One crisp morning when I was young, a rank Hereford calf kicked a piece of steel pipe smack into my dad's face. It was the first time I'd ever seen my dad really injured. It frightened me as much as the branding process was scaring that wild calf.
The age of instant communications has brought a sometimes vicious tone to arguments these days, but I'm pretty sure it's always been human nature to engage in spirited disagreements.
As I drove west through the pre-dawn darkness on June 10, 1972, my imagination worked overtime trying to picture what I might see when the sun came up and I reached Rapid City.
General Dwight D. Eisenhower gave the order for the D-Day assault on Normandy and other beaches on the coast of France when I was five months old. The invasion began on June 6, 1944. That's 75 years from tomorrow. The fighting that followed cost thousands of lives but marked the beginning of the end for Nazi Germany's war machine.
One of our granddaughters has a birthday today and for no particular reason I'm reminded of the time years ago when her grandma baked her a "Wizard of Oz'' cake with ruby slippers and a yellow brick road.
When we visit our son and his family in Chamberlain, I like to rise in the morning while the house is quiet, pour a cup of coffee and sit in a corner chair at a window that overlooks the Missouri River. I slowly come awake to a splendid view of the river from past the interstate bridge downstream to beyond the old Highway 16 bridge upriver. Across the water to the west, green bluffs mark the eastern edge of Lyman County. I sit, sip and study the river while the house gradually awakens around me.
Somewhere in a box of belongings stored away since we moved out of our big house a while back, I have a delicate piece of paper with a pencil-shaded name from the Wall in Washington, D.C. The names on the Wall are of the more than 58,000 men and women who died in military service in Vietnam. The pencil-shaded name is of a friend and fellow journalism major from college. We graduated in 1966. I found journalism work. He entered the Army and in 1968 went to Vietnam as a helicopter pilot. He died there in September of that year when his helicopter was shot down.
If you grow up on a farm or ranch, you probably never have to worry during your school years where in the world you will ever find a summer job.
Once when I was in Cub Scouts, I went to the garage, found some scrap lumber and made a side-wheel paddle boat to earn a badge or something. I pulled pieces of heavy, black wood from the stack in the rafters. It took forever to saw the wood and drive nails into it. When I had finished, I had a river boat that looked fine but that sank to the bottom of the wash basin. Imagine my embarrassment. I had built a wooden boat that wouldn't float. Who could appreciate such a thing? A mother could, of course.
In Presho the other evening for a Lyman County event, I got to talking about the past winter with a rancher who took me back to my childhood when, in the conversation, he measured the snow and rain in terms of five-buckle overshoes. Say that to some people today and I suppose they'd give you a funny look. I knew immediately what he meant, because there was a time in this part of the country when everyone measured things that way — snow, rain, mud, barnyard muck, didn't matter. We all knew about how deep it was by how tall our overshoes had to be to wade through the stuff.