Watching snow pile up on my patio the other evening, I recalled a creased, faded black-and-white photograph that showed a plowed country road with snow piled seven or eight feet...
Like many other old codgers you know, I'm guilty of telling stories about the good old days. But, wait, if you've read any of my stuff, you know that. One story I've shared more than once — and so have many others my age — is how, when I was in high school, every single pickup in the school parking lot had a gun rack with a rifle and a shotgun resting in it. Well, I grew up in those times, all right, so that's pretty much true. Or true in the way, I suppose, that Huck Finn said the book "Tom Sawyer" was true. The way Huck said it was "That book was made by Mr.
Most reporters I've known collect far more information in their notebooks — or smart phones or whatever these days, I suppose — than they ever have a chance to use in stories. David Kranz, back when he was my city editor, talked of carrying a second notebook. By that he meant that on assignments a reporter should keep a second set of notes on other topics that might become stories in the future. I did that, in my fashion, filling those slim, fit-in-the-hip pocket notebooks one after another, marking passages or pages where the topic changed, dating each entry.
It was important for Vernon Ashley to have me know, that time I interviewed him in 2009, that while he was homesick when he left his Crow Creek Reservation home for high school in Flandreau, he never cried. I thought of that story immediately when I read the news of Ashley's death this past week. The big man with the lined face, snow-white hair and eyes that seemed to see beyond the horizon would have reached 100 in another two months.
My little brother, Kevin, celebrated a birthday last Tuesday, and in a Facebook post reminded us that so did David Kranz, now-retired newspaper editor and political columnist. Kranz. The Kranzmeister. Kranz-a-matic. Kranzarama. Various co-workers used those nicknames at one time or another. I mostly called him David, a habit I picked up when we were both in J-school. He called me Woster, as in "Woster, what's your story?'' David was a couple of years behind me at State. That makes him 70. He's a scurrier. Even back on campus, he scurried.
Sometimes in moments of quiet reflection, I fear for my country. I don't spend most of my waking hours afraid. I have a life. I watch the news, drink some coffee, surf the Internet, visit the library to find William Kent Krueger novels, watch "NCIS'' re-runs, go for walks, watch the sun set and admire the gold leaves that fall from the green ash trees. But every so often, I worry. I don't worry that someone will take our country from us. That's not impossible, because there are a lot of bad people in the world who don't like the idea of this country.
When I was a boy, the family owned, for a while, a small house on the lot next to ours in Chamberlain. I don't recall the circumstances, but for a period of time, that house stood empty. It made a great place to play on rainy days. It wasn't outside, but it was out of my house, you know? I took a small portable record player (yeah, I'm that old) with a stack of 45 rpm platters to the empty house. I could play them as loud as I wished, with no one to complain about the volume.
I found two shotguns and a .22-caliber rifle tucked into a cranny in the furnace room when I cleaned in the basement the other day. Well, sure, I'm as Second Amendment as the next American, but I'd completely forgotten I was armed and dangerous and ready to protect my castle. Oh, wait. I should back up. I'm not completely ready to protect the old castle.
Strange to say, but sometimes it seems to me that weddings have little in common with marriages. I've been thinking about that now and then for the past week, ever since our granddaughter Jordan married her sweetheart, Patrick. They came together in a lovely and touching ceremony that focused on them — two young, earnest and excited people sharing a pledge to spend the rest of their lives together. I love weddings, especially when the couples are so clearly in love. There is so much hope, so much optimism and so much happiness. Nearly everybody is on their best behavior at a wedding.
A recent column about traveling South Dakota north of Highway 34 and west of the Missouri River on news assignments drew a quick and positive response from a teacher/newspaper friend who grew up in that part of the country. Jomay and I worked together for a while at the newspaper. She has returned to teaching. She appreciated especially the mention of the Red Scaffold area of the Cheyenne River Indian Reservation. I once had lunch there with the Head Start class following a blizzard.