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I was rummaging through a magazine rack in the living room the other day when I happened upon a most amazing book, one I'd forgotten I possessed. The book is an over-sized soft-cover publication titled "South Dakotans in Vietnam.'' The one I have contained oral histories of that war by some of the Pierre-area men and women who served their tours in Southeast Asia.
Many years ago when I had younger friends, Nancy and I would join them on weekends like this one to search for firewood in the Missouri River breaks above Oahe Dam. We were three couples, each with a fireplace and a chainsaw. The fall firewood hunt had its practical side because of the fireplaces. You need wood to keep one going, and every member of our three-couple group was way too cheap to consider buying wood. Wait. Cheap may be too harsh a word. Perhaps we were simply frugal. We were children of the 1940s and 1950s, you know.
Mother Nature can be so cruel. Not that long ago, we had winds that howled like our old Labrador when he picked up a snoutful of porcupine quills. Not that long ago, we had a few nights of terribly unseasonably chilly weather. So, what's the forecast for Halloween? Well, out here where I live, The Weather Channel says the daytime high is supposed to be 66 degrees and the evening low might be high 30s. The wind is forecast at the moment at about 18 mph, so that's promising. The temperature, though, offers no relief at all. Relief from what, you ask?
I'd heard of Russell Means, of course, before the spring of 1972 when I first saw him speak at a public meeting in Billy Mills Hall in Pine Ridge. By that time, the American public was becoming aware of Means, Dennis Banks, the Bellecourt brothers -- Vernon and Clyde -- and the American Indian Movement.
Finally out raking leaves, twigs and small branches from last week's major-league wind storm on Sunday afternoon, I had more time to think about former Sen.
Booker T and the MGs had a hit in October of 1962, a song called "Green Onions." It received huge air play on KOIL Radio in Omaha that fall, sharing the air with "Sherry" by the Four Seasons, "Do You Love Me" by the Contours and "Surfin' Safari" by the Beach Boys. A popular DJ -- Sandy Jackson, I think was the guy's name -- drew listeners from across the Missouri Valley region. If a song was on his show, it was all over Omaha, Council Bluffs and the heartland of the country.
Back in high school, I took a series of tests that resulted in the guidance counselor telling me I'd make a good doctor. Well, as anyone who knows me can confirm, that was never in the cards. I grow weak at the sight of blood, and even the most casual of medical doctors likely sees blood at some point. In college, I took a series of tests at Creighton University that seemed to be intended to measure my emotional well-being.
Three things I remember most about my year at Creighton University: the library, the observatory and the administration building. Well, sure, also crawling out of bed at 4:10 a.m., pulling on an overcoat and stumbling across the street from Wareham Hall to St. John's Chapel for 4:15 Mass on Sunday mornings. Hard to forget something like that. Father Renard often said the 4:15 Mass, and it took him about 20 minutes, opening prayer to final blessing, all in Latin in those days before Vatican II.
Carv Thompson only served four years in the South Dakota House of Representatives, but it seems much, much longer than that to me. Perhaps that's because we were both relatively young then. All the world was new and anything was possible. He was in his first term, a druggist from Faith with curly dark hair and an unlined face, when I showed up in Pierre to cover the Legislature. He probably would have been re-elected many times to the House had he not chosen to run for governor in 1972. He was popular back home.
I suppose it might seem somewhat out of the comfort zone for an old, retired newspaper guy, but there I was at the South Dakota Festival of Books, sitting in the audience listening to a presentation called "You Go, Girl! Writing Strong Female Characters." The festival gives attendees eight or 10 choices every hour on the hour, all day long. If there's a criticism, it's the one my friend Jill Callison voiced on Twitter or somewhere last Friday or Saturday. Jill writes features and columns and all sorts of other stories and essays for the Argus Leader.