Random thoughts at the end of summer: As Nancy and I cruised the Missouri River on Saturday, it struck me that our decision in 1969 to leave Sioux Falls for...
Twenty years ago this summer, South Dakota legislative leaders and then-Gov. Walt Miller were still wondering how they'd make up more than $60 million the state treasury faced losing because video lottery had been ruled unconstitutional. This is the month in 1994 when the bubbly music of video gambling terminals went silent for a time. The ruling that brought the machines to a halt was a 4-1 decision by the South Dakota Supreme Court on June 22 of 1994, five years after the Legislature created the system of video gambling with electronic poker and blackjack terminals.
It was hot, stiflingly so, that late-summer evening 46 years ago when our dad died. It would have been this week -- Aug. 19, 1968 -- when he gave up and stopped breathing in a hospital room in Chamberlain. Cancer claimed our dad, Henry Woster, at the age of 56. He was a big, strong, good-natured farmer. Cancer was strong, too, and meaner than anything our dad had faced ever before. I used to say he lost his battle with cancer on that day so many years ago. It wasn't really a battle. The disease ate him apart. He tried to escape, more than he tried to fight. He didn't want to fight.
If you were born while World War II raged, and if all these years later you are still going to a full-time job every weekday, you should consider retiring. I...
Long ago, when I served as editor of a Pierre newspaper, the cover photograph on the back-to-school edition featured my son riding a skateboard. No, I wasn't playing favorites. It wasn't even my idea, although it turned out to be a good one. The advertising guy came up with it.
When the grain harvest hits in South Dakota, a good supply of rail cars at the right time can make all the difference. I suppose I knew that when I was a kid hauling wheat to Shanard's Elevator in Reliance. I used to see the cars lined up on the siding, waiting for the grain, for sure. I didn't pay much attention to the financial end of the rail/grain business as a youngster. The cars were always there when the wheat hit the elevator. Why wouldn't they be? That's how the crop went to market. That's how the world worked. I loved railroads as a kid, don't get me wrong.
Years ago, I used to talk sometimes with a wonderful woman named Alice Kundert about the wonder each of us found in the night sky when we were growing up in our parts of rural South Dakota. Alice was from the Mound City area in Campbell County. She served as state auditor, secretary of state and a member of the South Dakota House of Representatives, but she never forgot her roots.
We drove through the Rosebud area earlier this week, and I remarked at how much clover grew on the hillsides. Things may be drying up a little in parts of South Dakota, but the central area remains green into late July. Were my mother alive, she'd mention that every time we spoke. Many years by this time, pastures are parched and earth tones dominate the landscape. The clover seems thicker than most years. In fact, I thought as I drove along, this may be the most clover I've ever seen. At that point, I laughed.
I worked the family farm every summer until my senior year in college, and I did just about every chore there was to do on that farm, except drive a combine. The line ahead of me was just too darned long. My dad combined. My Uncle Frank combined. My big brother, Jim, combined. My cousin, Leo, combined. A lot of the time, we had only one combine, a lumbering old orange (maybe, the paint had faded so much it was hard to tell) thing shaped a lot like a dinosaur. That one had to be pulled with a tractor.
Long, long ago in what sometimes seems like another galaxy far away, people would go out camping for a weekend without television, cell phones and electricity. The moms and dads...