One of the things I have never liked about being a father is how, when the kids are around, a dad must pretend he isn't afraid of anything. Like the dark, for example. I've been afraid of the dark for as long as I can remember. When I was young, that didn't matter. A lot of kids are afraid of the dark. Even as a young adult, it was something I could mention to a close friend. I'd be ridiculed, sure, but it wasn't the end of the world. But a father simply can't let a child see that he is frightened by a dark night or dark house.
When I was a kid, the first day of pheasant season wasn't so much "the opener'' as it was a Saturday when we went to the farm and didn't work.
During the week I spent in New York City covering the Democrats' national nominating convention in 1976, I loved waking to the sound of the morning newspaper hitting my hotel-room door. It was the first time I'd been able to read the New York Times the same day it was published. I started reading mailed copies back in college in the middle 1960s. The news was a bit old by the time I got my hands on the paper, true. It was news, still, and the Times' staff filled the newspaper with it.
It was chilly down by the Missouri River last Saturday afternoon. Windy, too. The bridesmaids shivered in their sleeveless green dresses, and the groomsmen in shirtsleeves squinted into the sharp breeze that blew in from the water. Wedding attire for the invited guests ranged from suits and ties to heavy sweaters, light parkas and wool blankets. I didn't see any of the guests actually pull hoods or blankets over their heads during the ceremony, but I wouldn't call you a liar if you said it happened. It was a blustery day.
Photographs of early-fall snow in the Black Hills remind me of the 1970 general-election campaign when I nearly couldn't make it from Rapid City to Lead to cover a candidate for Congress on the second or third day of October. Recently I've seen a couple of images of snowfall in the Hills. One was from a highway camera at Hardy Station along Highway 85 near the Wyoming border. Well, there's always snow up there. Television meteorologists like to grab that camera shot when they want to scare viewers.
Except for the fact that it brings us 30 days closer to winter, October in South Dakota is the perfect month. And even with winter not far behind, October, most years, anyway, is about as close to perfect as a month can get. What's winter, anyway, besides an opportunity to test ourselves against cold, snow, wind and ice so we'll be in the mood for the generally milder if whimsical nature of the spring to follow. And we'd have neither the test nor the whimsy without October.
As a young reporter for The Associated Press half a century ago, I had the good fortune of interviewing Congressman Ben Reifel several times before he left the U.S. House of Representatives at the end of 1970.
Several years ago when my mother-in-law awoke in the night and feared she was having a heart attack, she got out of bed, dressed, packed a small overnight case and sat at her kitchen table in Chamberlain, patiently waiting until morning to call the hospital.
The earth, relatively speaking, is round, not flat. Had I written that sentence back in my days of news reporting with The Associated Press, I might have been tempted to say, "The earth, relatively speaking, is round, not flat, authorities said."
While some people say their world shrinks as they grow older, I'm finding the world is the same and I'm shrinking. Back in high school in Chamberlain, I played center for the basketball team. The coaches listed me at 6 feet 1 inch. I thought I was just a hair taller than that, but then, former professional basketball great Wilt Chamberlain used to sometimes say he was 7 feet and 1 and 1/16 inches. At CHS, the coaches didn't mess around with fractions.