It's been 39 years since a flash flood in the Black Hills killed 238 people in Rapid City and surrounding communities. The 1972 flood began with torrential rains in the higher elevations of the Black Hills on the afternoon and evening of June 9, a Friday. By sunrise of the following day, most of the water that came crashing down the valleys of the Black Hills and through the downtown of Rapid City had run off and away to the east. It was that quick.
If you live anywhere near Pierre or Fort Pierre these days, there isn't much to talk about besides the Missouri River flooding. I haven't been out of the office enough to see much of the two communities first hand, but after more than 40 years as a resident of the capital city, I think I know the area pretty well. We bought our first boat in 1974. We're on our third one now. It's nine years old and has pounded its way up and down the channel below the Oahe Dam and across the broad water of the reservoir above the same.
A television commercial that seems to play a lot shows a couple getting ready for bed when the wife asks the husband if he would remarry if she were gone. The punch line comes after the wife asks if her golf clubs would be used by the new woman. The husband says no, and adds, "She's left-handed." My wife always laughs at the commercial for some reason.
I have a friend who served in the Army in Korea. After his hitch was up, he returned to Pierre in time for the great Missouri River flood of 1952. He's a terrific storyteller, with a good memory for detail.
The month of May is nearly over, and I forgot to mention that it's National Nurses Month. That's pretty important where I live, because I married a nurse. It comes in pretty handy when you're raising a couple of rambunctious boys to have a full-time registered nurse on staff. "Is there a doctor in the house? No, but we have a nurse." That will do nicely when the older son, age 8 or 9, free-wheels his new bicycle down the sidewalk on the hill next to the high school, can't get the brakes to work and crashes into the lawn, driving one end of the handlebar into his cheek.
Everyone in this part of the country has a Harmon Killebrew story, and his recent death gave many people a chance to share their favorite tale. When I mentioned the former Minnesota Twins baseball player at the office the day after he died, a co-worker looked mildly confused. "You know who Harmon Killebrew is, don't you?" I asked. "Some baseball player," she said, a bit uncertainly, giving me the opening I needed to tell my Killebrew story. I have never liked the Twins; I should say that up front.
Last Saturday morning, the activation ceremony for the 200th Engineer Company of the South Dakota National Guard drew so many people the cars and pickups were parked down where we live a couple of blocks from the high school in Pierre. The evening before, I'm told, the folks in Chamberlain held their own sendoff for the Guard members. They say my big brother, Jim, was the master of ceremonies and did a good job. I'm sure he did. Jim is good at those things.
I have a granddaughter in Brookings who just finished her freshman year in high school and who simply loved being on stage in plays and skits. How that came to be, I'm not quite sure. She's a remarkable young woman, for sure. But as a young thing, she was too shy to say her name in front of a class of preschool children, much less talk and move and sing on stage. She changed, and one of the few downsides to my day job is that it is difficult to buzz over to Brookings in the middle of the week to catch a play or a concert.
Getting older. Kids have been gone from home for years and years. Things should be pretty quiet for Nancy and me these days. I guess that's why we took off last Friday for Brookings, met our daughter and her husband and our younger son, climbed in a car together, picked up our granddaughter Lara from high school and drove to Vermillion to attend a hooding ceremony for graduates of the law school.
I guess I can thank the paper carrier. I opened the front door this morning and looked for the daily newspaper. I wasn't surprised that it wasn't on the porch. (The carrier is often challenged to hit the porch, even though when I stand at the curb and look at our house, the front porch seems like a pretty big target.) I was surprised when I couldn't see it on the steps or in the grass by the sidewalk or somewhere down toward the street. I found my paper around the side of the porch, nestled in the rocks under the dogwood plant.