It's just about the time of year when we'd start cutting alfalfa back on the farm. I tend to connect early June and haying season because when I was growing up, school ended about the time June arrived.
I sat up late the other evening pondering one of the weighty questions of our time. What in the world ever happened to those wonderful old wool stockings we used to wear with our Keds or Converse low-cut sneakers, and sometimes with our penny loafers and white bucks, too? What ad wizard thought there could ever be a better foot-protection product than those things we called "sweat socks?" I know the Space Race and NASA and moon shots spurred numerous great inventions.
I remember a track meet a couple of years ago -- in Miller, I think it was -- when I discovered that one of the Chamberlain High coaches felt almost the same way about my granddaughter Frankie as I do. We were leaning against the fence at the top of the home straight, enjoying the warm sun and talking about the old days of track and field. Frankie was on the grass in the middle of the infield, beginning to stretch and limber up for the 300-meter hurdles a bit later on the schedule.
My friend Noel Hamiel was Robert Redford in the newsroom before most folks knew about Redford, Dustin Hoffman and "All the President's Men," the 1970s era film about the Washington Post reporters who dug into the Watergate mess that resulted in President Richard Nixon's resignation. I was thinking on that just last Friday as I watched him receive a plaque in recognition of his induction into the South Dakota Newspaper Hall of Fame. He spent most of his adult life, after a short stint as a schoolteacher, in the newspaper business, writing, editing and publishing.
I had the opportunity to consider a bit the importance of credibility in the news business recently during the recent convention of the South Dakota Newspaper Association. I found many aspects of being a newspaper reporter challenging during a 42-year career, but nothing worried me more than mistakes. The newspaper business is full of opportunities for mistakes. It includes reporters, copy editors, assignment editors, city editors, photographers, photo editors and all sorts of other people who handle a piece of copy before it goes into a newspaper.
If the universe unfolded according to plan, I'm having a six-week, post-surgery check-up on my totally replaced right shoulder just about now. I know. I talked about shoulder replacement some weeks ago. That should have been enough. However, several Daily Republic readers wrote or called (that's pretty much a landslide in the newspaper business) to say I should have written more seriously about the shoulder problem and the surgical solution, particularly since it's one of the health issues facing an aging population.
I used to really enjoy watching the old television series "M*A*S*H," and I liked the original movie quite a lot, even if it took me a while to understand that some of what was going on was commentary on the whole Vietnam Era. Last Friday, Nancy and I left town in time to take in the Brookings High School's production of "M*A*S*H." We're big theater fans, sure, but our primary reason for traveling 200 miles to see a high school play was because our sophomore granddaughter played Lt. Janice Fury in the BHS production. This isn't a critic's review.
I spent some time recently reflecting on the backboard and hoop I made and fastened to the REA pole at the edge of our farmyard, an uneven, rutted patch of rock-hard earth that sloped away from the pole and made the hoop an official 10 feet above the ground only in a tiny area directly below the basket. It wasn't a standard basket, and the ground kicked the ball at crazy angles when I tried to dribble. Still, I spent a ton of time out there after the day's work was finished, trying to develop a jump shot, some ball-handling skills and general basketball fundamentals.
I live in a small city, but I'm a Lyman County farm boy. I listen to the weather reports. (Now, farm boy I may be, but I wouldn't trade the static of old radio for the marvels of The Weather Channel for keeping abreast of cold fronts and storm warnings, high-wind advisories and heat waves.) The forecast the other evening called for a drop in temperatures, maybe lows in the 20s, quite possibly a freeze warning. Well, who'd have thought it? It's been a while since the temperature fell below freezing here in the Pierre area. I gather it's the same for much of South Dakota.
If Easter is a time of renewal, then my home community and its sister city across the Missouri River are deep into the season. Pierre and Fort Pierre, like Dakota Dunes and other communities downstream to the sharply pointed southeast corner of South Dakota, are slowly recovering from record flooding that started late in May and lasted through the summer and beyond. The signs of renewal abound.