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Twenty years ago this week, legal gambling came to Deadwood. Local folks had circulated petitions to put the issue of limited gambling in Deadwood to a public vote. South Dakotans approved the measure, and Wild Bill Hickok and Calamity Jane rode again. I worked for the Sioux Falls newspaper then. The paper gave me $100 and sent me out to Deadwood Gulch to do some gambling on that opening day. The rules of my game were, I could lose up to $100. Anything I lost beyond that was my money, and nobody was wiring extra cash so I could buy gas for the trip home.
The first year we had Halloween at our current home in Pierre, I came back from a trip to the old neighborhood to find Nancy madly popping popcorn and pawing through the cupboards in search of any loose candy that might be given to the next kid to ring the doorbell and shout "trick or treat." Nobody warned us what to expect when we moved from way up on North Grand down to a neighborhood next to the governor's mansion.
I started wearing a seat belt in my vehicle because of Sue Schuurmans. That was before the law required adults drivers and front-seat passengers to buckle up, but it was several years later than I should have made the practice a habit. I used a belt sporadically, quite a bit on the highway, not so often around town or for short jaunts. I guess I thought safety lay in brevity. Sue was a young woman from the Tyndall area. She worked for the state Health Department for several years and did emergency medical service, too. We called it ambulance work back then.
When I was just beginning to hunt pheasants, the federal government offered a program called Soil Bank. This was back when I was 12 years old or so, so it must have been about 1956. Dwight D. Eisenhower occupied the White House and a guy named Ezra Taft Benson was U.S. secretary of agriculture. From what I could gather listening to chatter at the Co-op in Reliance, Benson was to blame for every problem facing American agriculture in the 1950s.
During my senior year in high school, I ran several times against a Mitchell kid who was about two steps slower than I was in the 440-yard dash. We were quarter-milers, he and I, so we found ourselves on the track in the same races at four or five meets that senior season. We each ran legs of the medley relay and the mile relay, but our basic competition came in the open 440.
When I left the Sioux Falls Argus Leader for the first time back in 1969 to take a job in Pierre with The Associated Press, the boss for the wire service was a guy named Jim Wilson. I had only two years of newspaper experience at the time, and all of that was either in photography or sports writing. I knew nothing about state politics or legislative procedure, and the closest I'd come to hanging around with a South Dakota governor was taking a photograph of Gov.
The Missouri River is pretty much back to normal, recent news stories say. The stories cite U.S. Army Corps of Engineers numbers that show a lot of water being stored in the dams that run from Yankton to Fort Peck, Mont.
I didn't get to see all of the schools perform last weekend at the Festival of Bands in Sioux Falls, but I saw several. Nancy and I were on the street for the morning parade and in the stands at Howard Wood Field for some of the field competition. We traveled to the event to watch two granddaughters perform with the Chamberlain High School band.
I have a friend named Jim Carrier who grew up fascinated by the West. I capitalize the word because it's a region, of the mind, if not of the land. Jim grew up in upstate New York, and he said in something he wrote once -- or at least a draft of something he was writing -- that the bedroom window in his childhood home faced west. That explained much, he suggested. I met Jim when he moved to South Dakota in 1975 to work for The Associated Press.
Everybody in the world has read "The Catcher in the Rye," right? I got to Creighton University in the fall of 1962, and I'd never heard of the book. I'd never heard of the author, J.D. Salinger, although I had a hazy sort of notion that he might be related to the Kennedy family somehow. I was thinking of Pierre Salinger, of course, but I was also scrambling to keep up. All I knew during those first, hectic days on the Omaha campus was I had never heard of half of the books the other kids in my literature course claimed to have read. Now, mostly, Chamberlain prepared me well.