It's probably no coincidence that singer-songwriter Hoyt Axton was born in Oklahoma. A lot of us old folks were (uh, figuratively, anyway). Many people know Axton's music. You'd have to have grown up in another universe not to recognize "Joy to the World'' and "Never Been to Spain.'' Both were hits for Three Dog Night. Waylon Jennings did a nice job with "Never Been to Spain,'' but no one sang it as well as the guy who wrote it. One line in that song goes, "Well, I never been to Heaven, but I've been to Oklahoma.'' I've never been to Heaven. It's on my post-bucket list. We'll see.
The decision to drink alcohol or not was such a simple one for me in high school. I didn't do it. I'd tasted the stuff as a kid, conspiring with my cousin to pilfer a can of beer from an ice-filled tub out in the garage at my uncle's place during a wedding reception. I was 10, maybe 12, at the time. The forbidden nature of the substance made it exciting. The taste was unimpressive. Even so, I took a sip, swallowed and sighed contentedly, the way an adult might, if an adult were a total doofus. After that, I didn't try the stuff until I was out of high school. I had chances.
Not long ago, I told a co-worker about the time one of the guys in the back-shop of a weekly newspaper spilled molten lead down the inside of his boot. The co-worker didn't believe me at first. It occurred to me that most people I know these days have never been in the back-shop of an old-time newspaper where hot metal was used in linotypes to set a line of type, called a slug, one line at a time to make a newspaper. What romance and mystery most people have missed, including my co-worker, whose first reaction to my story was, "You're making that up.'' "Making it up?'' I said.
The upside of growing older is being alive. The downside is parts wearing out on a body that long ago outlived the warranties that accompanied it into the world. Almost every day recently, I've had moments of reflection -- sometimes early in the morning, sometimes in the middle of a discussion at work, sometimes late in the night when sleep is playing hard to get -- during which I'm almost overwhelmed at the simple fact of having been allowed to live as long as I have and of having known the joys of a large family and a few close friends.
I’m the sort of gambler who folds with three aces if the other guy raises me a nickel, so you’ll recognize how amazing it is when I tell you that...
I never took the SAT exam before I enrolled at college. I took the ACT. What's the difference? Beats me. The SAT is in the news because it apparently will change some vocabulary requirements and make the essay writing portion optional instead of mandatory. The changes are supposed to make the test more like what students learn.
My mother was Irish, part of the McManus clan who grew up in the neighborhood around Lyman. I never pass the Lyman exit between Reliance and Kennebec on Interstate 90 without thinking of my mother and her Irish brothers and sisters.
Every good thing goes back to that Sunday evening movie date.
My lawyer died the other day, and South Dakota lost a decent human being. Max Gors drew up a will for Nancy and me early in our marriage. He did the work during a stint in private practice. I think of it as a brief stint, because for most of his adult life, Max was in public service, one way or another. He worked as an assistant attorney general in Iowa and in South Dakota, served in the South Dakota government cabinet and on the circuit court bench in the circuit that covers the central part of the state, and as an acting justice of the state Supreme Court.
One thing about the wacky winter weather this year: a whole bunch of broadcast news reporters have been captured on camera standing out in the snow, wind and cold telling their viewers that snow is falling, the wind is blowing and it's cold out.