When I was a kid, summer was incomplete without a family vacation, always by car and usually across multiple states at break-neck speed. We must have looked like Ma and Pa Kettle and their big brood of young ones as we puttered down the road. Our family was seven, two adults and five kids. That's a lot of bodies to cram into one car for hours at a time. For several years we drove a Nash. We graduated to a Pontiac station wagon and rode like lords. We probably still looked like the Kettle family, but we didn't care. We had a new car.
The first time I ever heard of the concept of traveling teams, our younger son came home from fifth grade and told us he'd been left off one. I remember thinking, "Wait a minute. In fifth grade you can't not let a kid be on a basketball team if he wants to play, can you?" See, I was thinking a school team of some sort. I didn't know there were organized teams that involved school kids but that weren't school sponsored or sanctioned or whatever the word should be.
This is the time of year when the hot, dry weather we've endured recently used to suck every drop of moisture from the fields and pastures and stock dams back home. Many years in the spring, we'd get the kinds of rains that would fill the dams to overflowing. Sometimes spring would be so wet that my dad and the neighbors would begin to wonder if they'd ever get into the fields to plant spring grains and corn. Some years we'd be trying to mow and windrow alfalfa while huge puddles of water glistened in the low spots in every hay field.
When you've been out of high school for more than half a century, you go to a class reunion not so much wanting to impress the old gang as hoping you'll recognize people with whom you shared 12 kind-of-important growing-up years.
I joined the news staff at the Sioux Falls Argus Leader as a photographer in 1967, but as soon as I met John Egan, I knew I wanted to work in sports.
We had a wind storm tear through our part of town the other evening, and I didn't even see it coming. I'm out of practice. Too many years of living in the city, relying on the TV meteorologists or the radar on my smartphone. Too many years of letting other folks track the skies for me. Time was, since I am a farmer's son, I'd have seen the storm building two or three hours before the wind picked up.
So we celebrate Independence Day on Tuesday, even though history says the initial resolution to separate the colonies from Great Britain passed on July 2, 1776, the anniversary of which is Sunday. That's when the Continental Congress passed Richard Henry Lee's offering, "Resolved: That these united colonies are, and of right ought to be, free and independent states, that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the state of Great Britain is, and ought to be, totally dissolved."
One Friday night in the summer of 1963, I got to leave the field early enough to clean up, drive to Chamberlain, pick up Nancy and another couple and hurry to Gregory to dance to the music of Myron Lee and the Caddies. I've written about that a time or two. Myron remembers it because it was a Friday gig that allowed his band to earn some money on their way to a Saturday night show with the Everly Brothers in Spearfish. The Caddies were on the road a lot in those days.
A couple of years before my newspaper career ended, I spent three weeks typing into a laptop computer basic information from thousands of applications for concealed pistol permits on file in the South Dakota secretary of state's office. June of 2006, I think it was. The previous Legislature had passed a bill prohibiting access to applications for permits to carry concealed pistols. Up until then, the applications were open records. That July 1 when the law took effect, they would be closed to the public.
You're pretty old if you remember Johnny Weissmuller, but for a time I wanted to be just like him. He played Tarzan in several movies back in the 1930s or 1940s. He was the first actor I saw in a Tarzan film, so he'd have made an impression no matter what else he did. He was a rugged, muscled guy with good looks and dark hair, a little on the wild side like a guy who might have been raised by a family of apes. And you can trust me when I tell you Weissmuller had the best Tarzan yell of any actor who ever played the role.