As I read the sports page in the local newspaper the other day, I happened on a quote from a high school cross-country coach that made me realize once again how far, far back my athletic career was in the Dark Ages of organized sports. The coach was talking about his best runner and how he would hold her back in practice, having her run with the other members of the team to help develop the bond that is evident in so many of the cross-country squads these days. Left to her own pace-setting, that girl would have left the other runners in the dust.
When I reached the kids' place in Chamberlain a while before sunset a week ago Friday, I parked the truck, got out and leaned over in the driveway to scoop up Sage, our 3-year-old granddaughter who came sprinting across the concrete to welcome me to town. After a hug or two with Sage and some pleasantries with her parents, I found myself in the trampoline with Nancy and Sage, bouncing around like jumping jacks and generally acting like something other than a senior citizen who ought to be thinking about calling it a night. I tired rather quickly. Sage didn't mind that.
What I thought I might do last Sunday was read the paper, drink some coffee, go for a walk with Nancy, do a little writing and catch a mid-afternoon nap as the temperature climbed to the upper 80s. Well, I got the paper read, with the help of two or three cups of coffee. We went for a long walk, too, down toward the river and through Griffin Park. The writing had to wait until later, and the nap didn't happen at all.
Ten years seems such a long time, until you look back at something like the terrorist attacks of Sep. 11, 2001. Then it seems no time at all. I remember feeling that way in 1982, 10 years after the Rapid City flood that claimed 238 lives in the space of an early June overnight in the Black Hills. A decade after that flood, I could remember as if it were only that morning how it looked to drive into the east edge of Rapid City just at dawn and see the cars crushed, the trees uprooted, houses moved from foundations and debris hanging from every fence rail and storm drain.
When I was a sophomore at South Dakota State back in 1964, one of the BMOCs (that's big man on campus for folks who didn't grow up half a century ago) was a guy named Don Barnett. He and my big brother were friends, and I got to know him mostly through Jim. Barnett was involved in a ton of campus activities -- and a few non-campus activities, so the stories go -- so he was pretty visible and kind of a hero to introverted underclassmen like me. He graduated, did some time in the U.S.
One day not so very far in the future, the last strains of the final song will fade and a voice will say softly but authoritatively, "Captain Jayco has left the building." Actually, that isn't going to happen, not quite that way. It should, though, because the guy who came to be known as Captain Jayco -- my pal Marty DeWitt -- is leaving the South Dakota park system later this month.
Tomorrow is the first day of September. School is back in session, and the State Fair has started a five-day, Labor Day weekend run that signals either the beginning of fall or the end of summer, take your pick. It seems an eternity ago that we were in the run-up to Memorial Day weekend.
The 1959 spring track and field season at Chamberlain High School started with a new coach at the helm. Had you walked among the thin-clads warming up on the outfield grass at the baseball field next to the school during the first practice or two, you would have guessed which of the baby-faced guys doing calisthenics was the coach only by the whistle around his neck. Don Giese looked like he shaved about as often as the 15-year-old freshmen he was planning to whip into some semblance of a track team in the coming eight or 10 weeks. Actually, Coach Giese still looks like a baby-faced kid.
A few years ago when legislators were talking about how to spend money from a railroad trust fund (and, yes, I'm oversimplifying the issue), I sat in a committee room and fought to keep from laughing out loud as Rep. Gordon Pederson of Wall explained how a railroad bed falls apart if it isn't properly maintained. I wasn't laughing at the explanation from the veteran Republican legislator. I was laughing with delight at Gordie trying to give some relatively green lawmakers a quick lesson on why railroads in general and the railroad trust fund in particular, were important to the state.
The sun had just dropped behind the river bluff on the west edge of Lower Brule a week ago Friday evening when the spiders began to drop from the top of the arbor around the pow-wow grounds. I'd been admiring the quiet evening, with the moon just beginning to rise over toward the east from the general direction of Big Bend Dam. You couldn't have special-ordered a better temperature if you'd been best friends with the producer of The Weather Channel, and the pow-wow circle filled with dancers each time a drum group began a song.