On Labor Day I like to be with family, but when I still worked full time, I often spent at least some of the holiday weekend at the State Fair. I have a great family, but the fair was a decent second choice for a place to spend the last weekend of summer. Crowds, kids, brand-new farm machinery, carnival rides, fancy fried food, loud music and long walks along dusty fairground streets. What's not to like about that? And if you're lucky, you just might see an old friend or two. For sure, you'll meet some new ones.
At my age, I'm one of those senior citizens who always seem to be the target of scams and consumer-protection warnings about scams. Even so, one of few times I fell for a scam of sorts, I was a young man, recently married, living in a rented house off East 10th Street in Sioux Falls and looking for a nice turntable to play some albums.
During a trip to the grocery store the other day, I bumped into a school-teacher friend and walked away with a renewed appreciation for what a positive attitude can do. It was the day before classes began here in Pierre. Like many other of the teacher's friends, I suppose, I made a comment something to the effect that it was time to go back to work, back to the old grind in the classroom. He shook his head and laughed.
Mixed with the intense grief that enveloped me when my dad died was a shameful feeling that only several years after his passing I was able to identify as disappointment.
If you think about it, the breathless flashes and updates available online these days aren't so different in concept from the extra editions put out by newspapers 100 or 150 years ago. I have always found the idea of an extra edition of a print newspaper romantic. I felt — still feel, I suppose — the same way about the BULLETIN we sometimes sent when I worked for The Associated Press. Like the extra edition, a bulletin meant something pretty out-of-the-ordinary was happening in the world.
Meanwhile, in an abandoned gold mile nearly a mile under the ground below the city of Lead in South Dakota's Black Hills, scientists continue their relentless search for the darkest and (so far) most elusive of forces on the dark side.
I rarely try to stir up trouble these days, but good heavens, the press is not the enemy of the American public, no matter who says it is. Yes, I'm biased. I worked for newspapers or wire services my whole career. I know reporters and editors and photographers. I never worked with one, never met one, who was an enemy of the people. I met many who made mistakes, sure. But their errors happened during good-faith efforts to report the news, and the mistakes were publicly corrected as quickly as possible. That's being human, not being an enemy of the people.
During an otherwise relaxing bicycle ride the other afternoon, a young woman whose attention was on the cell phone in her hand nearly ran me down. Here's the thing: She was riding a bicycle, too. We were on a hard-surfaced bike path that runs along the west shore of the Missouri River. Seriously. I had to brake and veer off the trail almost onto the pink rip-rap to avoid being struck by a phone-using bicycle rider. That may happen all the time in some cities, but it's a first in my 74-year life out here on the prairie.
It's been 40 years since the only South Dakota governor to resign the office left Pierre for Singapore and a post as United States ambassador. Dick Kneip, whose official last day as governor was July 24, 1978, was also the last Democrat elected to the executive office. South Dakotans chose him three times — twice for two-year terms and a third time for a four-year term after the state Supreme Court said he could run again because of a change in the constitution approved by voters in the 1972 election.
The first time I sang in public, back in high school with a six-piece combo called the Bearcats, I did a song by Elvis and another by Johnny Cash. The crowd in the old Chamberlain auditorium seemed to like both songs, "Hound Dog'' and "Folsom Prison Blues,'' even though one was rock and roll, the other country-western. Cash and Elvis had crossover appeal.