Unless your last name starts with a letter way down in the alphabet, you haven't experienced the back-of-the-room feeling known well to the Ws and the Ys. In school at Chamberlain, most of my classes involved alphabetical seating. Even the teachers must have tired at some point of "Waysman, Wenzel, Woster, Yates,'' in the roll calls and assignment lists. But there we were, way down the list of letters and usually either across the back row in the room or the last four chairs on the far right side.
A year ago about this time, I was in the rehabilitation stages after a total shoulder replacement. Well, here we go again. Last spring, a skilled surgeon (at least I'm assuming the surgeon did it, I was out the whole time) deftly sliced open my right shoulder and replaced both the components of the joint. The parts have medical names, but I like to call them the ball and the socket. It makes things sound more mechanical than medical.
Funny, sometimes, how relatively insignificant events rush back from half a century when someone sends a reminder. It happened to me just the other day, and the reminder came through Facebook, of all places. I check my page most days, sometimes twice but usually not more than once. I rarely post personal stuff -- never photographs, once in a while a Sinatra song or some other music with lyrics that make growing older seem a noble thing. Now and then I find something a friend has posted, and I share that. Those are usually Winnie the Pooh sayings or Mr. Rogers stuff.
One spring back on the farm, rain fell for something like 900 straight days, filling draws, cutting new drainages along the ends of dam banks and turning the barnyard into about a dozen inches of slop. I don't know if it really was that kind of drought-breaker or if it only seemed so because I'd invited two friends from town out to spend a couple of days, and the rain placed some limits on the kinds of things we could do for excitement. What we couldn't do was spend every hour of every day in the house. My mom saw to that. I don't know if we were loud -- well, sure, I do.
One of the best college class periods I ever had came the late spring day Mary Margaret Brown led her "Literature of England'' class out the north door of Lincoln Memorial Library onto the grass of the Coolidge Sylvan Theater stage. Even with the best of instructors (and Dr.
The Cowardly Lion in "The Wizard of Oz'' says, upon being awakened by a surprise snow storm after falling into a drug-induced (Wicked Witch-induced) slumber in a field of poppies, "Unusual weather we're having, ain't it?'' He might have been talking about spring of 2013 in South Dakota. I've heard many words used to describe the weather in the past few months. "Unusual'' hasn't been one of the more frequent ones, but it fits. I'm not complaining about moisture, you understand. I grew up in the dry-land farming country just west of the Missouri River.
The time a circuit judge called me out of the audience to testify during a live trial might have been the weirdest experience of my newspaper reporting life. It happened in April of 1991 in the Tripp County Courthouse in Winner. Judge Max A. Gors presided over a hearing involving a disputed $12.4 million winning lottery ticket, the first big jackpot winner sold in South Dakota's history with legal lottery gaming.
Twenty years ago this Friday, I watched some television coverage of the Waco incident with Joe Kafka in the Associated Press bureau, then went home, set some hamburger to browning in a skillet and received a call with word that a state airplane had crashed near a small town in Iowa. A routine day, ordinary but for the national news. Then a phone call, and the world changed forever for South Dakota, its citizens and the family members and friends of the eight men who crashed. Lost in the crash were Gov.
In a few short days, it will be my wife's birthday. Six weeks after that, she and I will celebrate, quietly as is our fashion, the 46th anniversary of our wedding day. I don't need to give Nancy's age. That isn't important to the story. She is ageless, even after a career as a registered nurse and a second, part-time career as part of a team of daycare providers for a 5-year-old granddaughter.
The benefits of grandchildren are far too numerous to count, but at the Vivian Dance Hall last Saturday evening, I discovered one more. I had the rare opportunity to sing a rock and roll tune with Mogen's Heroes, the zany, multi-talented musical trio that joins with my big brother Jim for shows, fundraisers, fairs and hoe-downs across a wide stretch of South Dakota, Iowa and Minnesota. More a bit later on why Mogen's Heroes and Jim were in Vivian on a Saturday evening in early April. First, the granddaughter. I sang with a dance band for several years, but that is going on two decades ago.