Reading history in any form is a positive exercise, if for no other reason than to remind us of how far we've come in a relatively short period of time. I thought that as I read a summary of events from South Dakota history. It was a brief and incomplete history, consisting of just a few things each year that apparently grabbed the attention of the writer. I have no idea who prepared the summary. Perhaps he or she completely lacked formal training in the discipline.
Let me tell you about young people. They are different from you and me. They are, that is, if -- like me -- you are old enough to receive the "AARP Bulletin." And, yes, I paraphrased the opening sentences from F. Scott Fitzgerald's rather more famous, "Let me tell you about the very rich. They are different from you and me." The rich are indeed different, from me, at least.
Flags of the United States of America waved in a light breeze from rows of poles that stretched from the Kennebec cemetery entrance down a gentle slope toward a creek bottom. It was mid-morning on Memorial Day. A color guard marched crisply across the cemetery to halt before a huge wreath. The grass of the cemetery and of the land that reached beyond it toward Interstate 90 was the color of emeralds, so rich under a partly cloudy sky that it hurt the eyes, and I squinted across the prairie.
It's no secret that my initial reaction to virtually any new bit of technology is negative. If you asked some members of my family, they'd say that's my initial reaction to anything new, period. I'm not sure that's true. I simply have a healthy skepticism about the value of certain new and improved gadgets and gismos. If a couple of tin cans and a string were good enough in the old neighborhood, why try something new? I can be dragged into the 21st century, but only if I'm shown the value (What's in it for me?) of whatever change is being made in the way we always did things.
It seems like forever ago when I stood at the curb on Sioux Avenue in Pierre in a crowd of people who were applauding National Guard men and women riding past on flatbed trailers. A local unit of Guard members had just returned from a tour of duty in Iraq, and the whole town turned out to welcome them home. The soldiers in that homecoming unit were the first from around Pierre to be called to duty overseas.
Neither of my parents had any formal training as weather spotters, but each could read an approaching storm through smell, sounds and a feeling in the bones. Back on the farm, being a self-taught meteorologist was as critically important as knowing how to pull a calf or can a crop of beans. Where we lived, WNAX in Yankton provided most of the weather reports. They did a fine job, an essential job, since they were the one source we could reach most days.
When last we left the granddaughter, she was crying softly into my shoulder after the last volleyball match of her high school career had ended in a loss. I was telling her how proud I am to be her grandpa, unable to think of anything more profound or comforting than that to offer a 17-year-old who had just finished the last point in the last match of a sport she loved. I imagine the scene was repeated in gymnasiums and on athletic fields all across South Dakota last autumn after the fall sports seasons came to an end -- young women and men being hugged by their parents and grandparents as t
Well, I just did my annual health assessment and found out I am overweight. I kind of figured I would be when I filled in the height and weight numbers on the computer screen. Even so, it was a bit of a shock to finish the assessment, click the button and get back an instant response telling me to lose eight or 10 pounds.
The first thing I thought when I read that the kid from Lake Andes had set a discus record at the Howard Wood Relays was, "Hey, that's Schwartz's record." I didn't find a confirmation in that first story. The confirmation for me came the other day in The Daily Republic, when Luke Hagen contacted Gary Schwartz in Arkansas and talked a bit about how it felt to have Cody Snyder break a record Schwartz had held for 48 years. (He figured it would go someday, he said). Even before I read Hagen's story, though, I was pretty sure the Wood Relays record in the discus had been held by Schwartz.
If you grow up on a farm, for as long as you live, the regular crop and livestock reports from the U.S. Agriculture Department are required reading. It's been a long time since I actually worked a farm. I was a kid about the time gumbo was invented in Lyman County. Even so, I read the ag reports, worry about the weather and temperature and generally act like someone who is nervous about getting the last quarter-section of corn planted. That's natural enough. All of us in South Dakota depend to some extent on those who actually farm the land.