Fragrance Of The Fourth

Posted: Thursday, July 2, 2015 at 9:09 am
By: Doug Lund

Back by popular request (my own) I’m sharing a favorite blog first written five years ago. Yes, another summer re-run but offered with sincere hopes that you have a grand holiday and a request to be careful out there in your celebrating.

I see that the fireworks stands are open for business again. It’s a pretty short season for those guys to sell their inventories and make a few bucks and I hope they have a bang up year but I’m afraid I won’t be one of their customers. I’ve already seen too much of my money go up in smoke on the stock market.

As a kid, though, I couldn’t wait for this day so I could blow any money I could scrape together on firecrackers.. often by whining to my mother and making promises I wouldn’t keep.

firecracker zebra

I’d peddle my bike up to the Skelly station right across Highway 14 which had laid in a  nifty supply of Roman candles, fountains, rockets, smoke bombs, black snakes, sparklers, lady fingers and fire crackers; LOTS of firecrackers. I can still see them now; piles of colorful packages with bright labels from exotic mysterious China. They came in various sizes and lots of different brand names: Thunder Bomb, Red Devil, Zebra, Wolf Pack and, of course, the more reliable but also more expensive, Black Cats.

I think what I remember most about those days leading up to and including the 4th were the smells.

After the guy at Skelly’s put my purchases, which also included one box each of sparklers and black snakes into a brown paper bag along with a couple free punks, I got my first whiff of black powder compressed into each little tube.

“Don’t you be setting those off anywhere near the building,” the Skelly’s guy said, “This is a gas station. The whole place could go up.”

Mom gave me pretty much the same warning when I got home but I headed straight for the gas stove, turned on a burner and held a punk in the flame until wisps of smoke arose and the aroma of burnt cork filled the kitchen. A couple of quick blows on the end to make sure it was properly lit, then I grabbed my paper bag filled with explosives and out the front door to make some noise.

“You be careful,” mom said, “remember what happened to Denny.”

My older brother had tried to blow his fingers off by holding a Silver Salute too long. It went off about six inches from his hand which caused poor mom to nearly faint when he came home and she saw it wrapped in a blood soaked rag. He sill bears the scars of his foolish bravado.

I sat on the steps opening the first of four firecracker packs; carefully unwinding the strand that weaves around the fuses holding the whole bunch together. I grab one, set it on the sidewalk then touch the punk’s glowing tip to the fuse. Oh, the excitement when it ignites with a hissing sound then eats it’s way back to the business end of the explosive and BANG it  goes off with a report loud enough to draw the attention of neighbor kids who come running over to watch the show.

As my audience grows, I become braver with each firecracker until I hardly run away at all. But then, as quickly as it began, it’s over. All that remain are a few duds so I lay each cylinder flat on the cement, snap them in half until a little powder falls out and light the middle. Sometimes they ignite and twirl around like a runaway water hose and if you slam the heel of your shoe on them just right they still give off a little pop. Most of the time, though, it’s just a fizzle.

I once took one of those duds apart and was amazed to discover that the insides of firecrackers were made from shreds of Chinese newspapers. What an odd thing to see ..printing in a language that uses drawings instead of letters.

fireworks snakeI tried to keep the neighborhood kids interested by setting off a few black snakes that start out looking like a rabbit pellet but when extreme heat is applied will erupt into snaky coils of  carbon that emit a pungent burning tar-like odor. They also leave big black circles on the sidewalk which riled my mother too.

But after dark, I do remember her sitting on the front step watching with delight as my brothers and I lit sparkers that burned so brightly they left a trail of light when we’d swing them around making big circles or writing our names.sparklers

Funny, as I think about it now, she worried about firecrackers but didn’t bat an eye at our holding on to welding rods throwing a shower of red hot sparks inches from our little noses.

I do recall that an ice cube and one of her kisses was a pretty good remedy for the pain of a burned finger.

Reunited And It Feels So Good

Posted: Friday, June 26, 2015 at 12:16 pm
By: Doug Lund

After the recently completed Lund Family Reunion at Palmer Gulch in South Dakota’s Black Hills, I now know what it would REALLY be like to go back and live in the “good” old days..and it is both wonderful and extremely frustrating.

First, the wonderful part; all the direct descendants of Harry and Gladys Lund (my parents) and extended families..save three grandkids..were there. An amazing accomplishment since travel arrangements from Hawaii, Arizona, California, Georgia, South Carolina, Tennessee and eastern South Dakota were..shall we say.. interesting and complicated which only delights me to think how determined everyone was to make it.

Great Faces Great Places

Great Faces Great Places

The accommodations didn’t quite measure up to the expectations promised but they were clean and..after agreeing to make the best of it, everybody made do and kept the joy up throughout our stay..rain or shine..which included a little of both all four days.  It was every family for themselves during the day; traveling to all the tourist destinations..but in the early evening, we’d rendezvous back at our circle of cabins where easy meals had been planned and prepared ahead of time followed by conversations, a bon fire with smores, adult beverages and songs.  Oh what joy!

Daughter Patty and Mom Linda

Daughter Patty and Mom Linda

Even Uncle Jay joined some of the kids climbing the rock in our back yard.  He was also looking for a phone signal and found one.

Even Uncle Jay joined some of the kids climbing the rock in our back yard. He was also looking for a phone signal and found one.

Daddy Tucker Smith holds great grandson, Jack..the youngest reunion attendee.

Daddy Tucker Smith holds great grandson, Jack..the youngest reunion attendee.

Everything came together like I hoped and prayed it would; especially seeing all the kid cousins just connecting and laughing and climbing the rocks and laughing and running and playing and laughing. It was worth it all. Then having Linda’s Brenda, James and Christy make the effort to be there..to be real Lund’s for a week along with Tucker, Julia and great grandson Jack staying with us. I just can’t thank them enough.

Uncle Jay was like a magnet to the kids.

Uncle Jay was like a magnet to the kids.

James, Christy and Suzan with Linda and sister in law, Ilene in background

James, Christy and Suzan with Linda and sister in law, Ilene in background

Niece Kimberly's husband, Ryan turned out to be fine campfire guitarist. Niece Erin's husband, Tate a fine singer..but we were all fine singers after a while. What fun.

Niece Kimberly’s husband, Ryan turned out to be fine campfire guitarist. Niece Erin’s husband, Tate a fine singer..but we were all fine singers after a while. What fun.

So, Doug..you mentioned frustrating??

Well, Palmer Gulch doesn’t really advertise that if you need to make a phone call, you have to drive to Hill City..same with getting reliable WiFi service. Oh, I know the purpose of staying at a Black Hills resort is getting away from it all but when you have so many people whose business depends on their keeping in touch, vacation or not,  and phone calls that are expected to be made and received, it’s just not terribly realistic to be isolated in the 21st century.

Even for a blogger who promised to send some pictures.

This joyful week wouldn’t have happened without the persistence of my sister-in-law, Judy Lund and, while there were several tearful toasts offered up to her husband, my brother, Denny, who died last August. There were even more stories told about his unbelievable life that brought laughs so hard the tears rolled too. Thanks Judy.

Matriarch, Judy Lund..the organizer..who also hand made beautiful necklaces for all the grown-up girls.

Matriarch, Judy Lund..the organizer..who also hand made beautiful necklaces for all the grown-up girls.

It’s up to the grandkids to plan the next one.

I can’t wait.

The Hills Are Alive With The Sound Of Lund’s

Posted: Saturday, June 13, 2015 at 12:10 am
By: Doug Lund

Look out Black Hills..thar’s a whole herd a Lund’s a headin’ your way and we’re fixin’ to do up all the touristy things you can put in front of us.

Lund family vacation 1948. (L-R) Grandpa Ole Lund, Grandma Bertha Lund, Mom Gladys. Brother Denny and Me down front 1948 I think. Dad Harry would be taking the photo.

Lund family vacation 1948. (L-R) Grandpa Ole Lund, Grandma Bertha Lund, Mom Gladys. Brother Denny and Me and me down front.  Dad Harry would be taking the photo. Brother Tommy wasn’t born yet.

As I write this, it’s late on Friday night June 12th and I’m supposed to have Big Red’s trunk all packed and ready to go so Linda, our granddaughter, Ella, and me can be headed West by 7 in the morning. We need to be in Rapid City to meet up with Desert Daughter Christy who flew in to Rapid from Arizona and son, James from Oakland, California last evening.

Also on the road in the morning will be daughter Suzan, husband Joe and granddaughter Zoey from Lincoln in one car along with daughter Patty, granddaughter, Allison and grandson Michael of Sioux Falls in another. Daughter Brenda and her beau Bob of Crooks will be in their RV and bringing the Harley. Grandson, Tucker, Julia and great grandson Jack are heading West too. We’ll all be rendezvousing at Palmer Gulch resort where my kid brother from South Carolina, Tom Lund, his wife, Ilene their three kids, Kim from Hawaii with her husband Ryan and three youngen’s. Bradley from Atlanta with wife Susan and three daughters and Erin from Chattanooga with her husband Tate and three beautiful little ones arrived Thursday so should have a good start on the reunion.

Also hitting the road Saturday are my sister-in-law, Judy of Sioux Falls along with son, Mitch, wife Jody and three of their kids, Joey, Nichole, and Tyler. Plus Denny and Judy’s other boy, Jayden Lund from Hollywood rounds out the group.

Whew!

I know that listing all those names and lineages sounds like the beginning of the Bible with all the boring begats..but I wanted to give you a sense of how getting this thing to actually come to fruition has been sort of miraculous.

It’s not the first time we’ve done this.

For many years, whenever the three Lund brothers and our wives have talked during  quick trips home, the discussion always came around to how sad it was so many of our kids and grandkids live so far apart they’ve really not had a chance to get to know their aunts, uncles and cousins. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could arrange a Lund family reunion?

Well, it finally happened 3 years ago, when Tom and Ilene invited everybody to their new lake home in the beautiful woods of South Carolina. Somehow we all managed to round up enough money for the flight to Greenville and had one of the most memorable few days of our lives.

Two new kids will be added this time.

Two new kids will be added this time.

Linda and I had never met any of Tom and Ilene’s grandkids. When it was time to return home, it was like saying goodbye to our own.

Tom, Denny Doug

Tom, Denny Doug

Everyone agreed that we must do this again and it wasn’t long before Judy and Denny were making plans for the gathering to which we now go.

As long as everybody wanted to visit the Hills, I suggested we look into leasing a bus and having Denny the bus driver do the honors behind the wheel. We laughed at the idea but didn’t totally rule it out either.

Then, Denny’s heart arrhythmia started giving him fits again; losing energy losing weight.

We all talked like everything was still a go for the reunion but the way my brother appeared to be wasting away, I think we all were wondering if he’d be up for the trip.

Well, as most of you know, he didn’t make it. The patriarch of the Lund family did have a reunion of sorts last August as so many of us gathered around his hospital bedside..made roomier after the nurse, at his request, disconnected all the noisy machines; rolling them to the side..leaving only the morphine drip that would soon send him painlessly off to his maker. “I love you all” was what he said bringing sobs from those of us unable to comprehend life without him.

I initially thought that Denny’s death would put the kibosh on this Black Hills assembly but on the contrary, everybody was 100% in favor of going forward. In fact, it’s become like a quest and a tribute to his memory.

The forecast is calling for rain Monday and Tuesday. No matter, I’m just anxious to see all those loveable Lund’s sharing lots of memories, loads of laughs and maybe a few tears but most of all just the joy of sitting back to watch and listen as the next generation of kids get to know each other and, hopefully learn the importance of family forever.

I’ll likely be close to a WiFi and will post a few pictures of this gathering..be it mayhem or monumental so check back soon.

A League Of Her Own

Posted: Tuesday, June 2, 2015 at 4:17 pm
By: Doug Lund

Well, I’ll be doggoned.

As I write this, the Minnesota Twins..given little or no chance of being anything but an also-ran..kind of embarrassing..Major League team again this season, has caused fan’s jaws to drop as new Skipper and former Twins’ player, Paul Molitor, has lived up to his old nickname “The Ignitor” and lit a fire on the early slumping team to where they now have the best record in the American League and top of their division.

Of course, I and all Twins’ fans know they’re likely to crumble into obscurity before long..but we can dream can’t we? Dream  that God will smile down upon us with another miracle season and World Series Championship like 1987 and  1991.

Nay..Methinks the prayerful pleadings from Chicagoland  are much too strong and wouldst there be another Divine intervention it would surly fall down upon the field of Wrigley before re-Targeting the land of ten thousand lakes.

Speaking of baseball.

Isn’t there something in the rule book about uniform uniformity?

Let’s start with baseball caps.

On the left..that is wrong. On the right..that is right. Questions?

On the left..that is wrong.
On the right..that is right.
Questions?

For heaven’s sake; the baseball diamond is a place for players to represent their TEAM..not to express their individuality with a personal fashion statement.

Stop it, I say.

Put your cap on straight. Bend the bill like God intended and find those colored stirrups to go with the pants half or all the way up the calf.

This is the correct way to wear baseball pants and socks.

This is the correct way to wear baseball pants and socks.

This is as if you have something to hide..like a police ankle bracelet.

This is as if you have something to hide..like a police ankle bracelet.

 

Here endeth the lesson

Now just a minute..I’ll be right back, there are some kids on the yard that need a talking to.

I did lots of stories on baseball during my time at Keloland TV.

My favorite, I think, was when the movie “A League Of Their Own” came out in 1992 about a league of women professional baseball players formed to take up the slack when so many Major League men players got called up to World War II. The film starred Tom Hanks, Geena Davis, Madonna, Rosey O’Donnell and directed by Penny Marshall. I thought it was very good except for the whiny younger sister to Davis’ character. Lord she was annoying.aggie league of own

Anyway, it came to my attention that a woman who played in the All American Girls Professional Baseball League was living in Sioux Falls.

And that’s how I met Agnes Allen.

Agnes Allen holding an official All American Girls Professional Baseball league ball during our interview in 1992.

Agnes Allen holding an official All American Girls Professional Baseball league ball during our interview in 1992.

Aggie grew up on an Alvord, Iowa farm..just a few miles east of the South Dakota border.  Sadly, her mother died when Aggie was just 11 so she was greatly influenced by her dad and older brothers who were baseball players. It turns out Aggie was a natural. She had a blistering fast ball and wicked curve. Her dad spent hours and hours teaching her the basics of the game but when Aggie turned 19 in 1950, and they heard about the All American Girl’s Professional Baseball League tryouts in Rockford, Illinois, he had reservations about letting his little girl go. He finally relented..deciding the experience would be a positive one and urged his daughter to calm her nerves..even providing a “Hoosiers” like pep talk with a reminder that the game is the same; it’s all about throwing and hitting and catching..nothing she’s not used to.  It turns out he was right. After screening about 100 players, the scouts were impressed enough with Aggie’s arm during the three day tryout and she was called up to play for the “Springfield Sallies.”  aggie in uniform use this Although, Aggie held her own on the ball field, she recalled feeling inferior to the other girls when the games were over.

Here's Aggie (top left) after she joined the Kalamazoo Lassies were she spent most of her four year career.

Here’s Aggie (top left) after she joined the Kalamazoo Lassies were she spent most of her four year career.

I was pretty shy, not very worldly and certainly not much to look at, she said. But, it turns out the other players were having pretty much the same feelings..especially being homesick. It wasn’t long before they made the most of those long grueling bus rides from town to town by singing songs and enjoying the fix they all shared.

No doubt the biggest thrill of Aggie’s professional baseball career was the chance to play a three inning exhibition game against the Chicago Colleens at Yankee Stadium in New York to help promote the league.   Can you imagine, this Northwest, Iowa farm girl strutting out to the mound of the most famous Major League ball park in the country to pitch in actual competition?   She confessed to me that she was so nervous she hardly remembers the experience. Especially disconcerting was the fact she was going to have to throw five and a half feet farther..the difference from the rubber to home plate in a Major League park.  But she settled in and even though the Colleens won the game, she got to meet the likes of Casey Stengel, Yogi Berra, Joe DiMaggio and a bunch of other New York Yankees who she remembered as being, “really nice.”

Aggie later signed with the Kalamazoo Lassies where she stayed for most of the next three seasons..including her best in 1953 when she went 10 and 9 with a 3.7 earned run average.

Aggie (far left middle row) in her final year with the Lassies and the league.

Aggie (far left middle row) in her final year with the Lassies and the league.

But she could see the future of the league wasn’t looking too bright which is why she’d been going to college during the off seasons and by the time she’d hung up her cleats for the last time at the end of ’53, she had enough credits to start teaching physical education and later a life long career in physical therapy; retiring at the age of 69.vlcsnap-2015-06-01-13h11m55s176

It was clear that Agnes Allen was tickled to be giving interviews in connection with the movie “A League Of Their Own” not so much for her own glorification but to share how the experience brought her and so many other post war young women out of their shell; giving them a can-do attitude..a life filled with the desire to push their limits, face all kinds of challenges, enjoy the rewards and just plain have fun..without a man.

Aggie Allen Died in 2012 at the age of 81.

aggie tomb stone

Too bad there’s no mention of her baseball career on her headstone at Alvord’s St. Mary’s Cemetery.

There IS, however, a pretty nice tribute at the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York.

Bull Session

Posted: Tuesday, May 19, 2015 at 11:00 am
By: Doug Lund

I’m not proud of it, but it appears that with advancing age, my attention span is becoming shorter and shorter. (No pun intended..oh wait, that was the last blog)

I’ll sit down to this keyboard with every intention of writing something interesting and on schedule only to get hopelessly distracted searching the web for more information about some trivial item that I figure will enhance the project. Next thing I know, several hours have passed. My butt is tired, my eyelids are heavy and the man-cave daybed is only a few steps away. Tomorrow.

I’ll concentrate better tomorrow and finish what I’ve started then.

Pathetic.

Here’s how this week’s endeavor morphed into whatever follows.

Somebody brought up the blog I did on Neal Wanless..the big time Powerball Lottery winner who lives a secluded life on his Western South Dakota ranch whom I saw on TV buying a car at the Barrett-Jackson collector car auction in Scottsdale for an ungodly amount of money.

He’s always reminded me of another South Dakota kid I did a story on back in the early 90’s who, like Wanless, loved rodeo and the idea of being a cowboy; only my guy lived on a Brookings County farm and was the son of a high school classmate, Dale Swartos.

So enthusiastic was this kid about rodeo-ing, that his dad found and purchased a used mechanical bull and set it up in the barn so the kid could practice night and day.

Well, I couldn’t remember the kid’s name but it only took one Facebook message to his cousin Tim Swartos to put me in touch with Kevin..the teen age cowboy from Sinai determined to be the next world champion bull rider. (The following four images are from our 1993 interview)vlcsnap-2015-05-19-08h15m09s204

vlcsnap-2015-05-19-08h19m55s234

vlcsnap-2015-05-19-08h19m08s21

I remember Kevin Swartos as the strong silent type who had already mastered all that mechanical bull had to offer..no matter how high the speed or degree of difficulty was cranked. He made it look easy and it was suggested I give it a go..which I immediately nixed with no possibility of exception after which I’m pretty sure I heard photographer, Kevin Kjergaard quietly making bwwaaak bwwaaak chicken sounds from behind his Keloland camera.

Well..young Kevin Swartos did alright for himself on the amateur rodeo circuit, riding bulls in about fifty of them. His best was his Junior year in High School when he won a third of the 15 events entered.vlcsnap-2015-05-19-11h50m35s158

I remember Kevin telling me during the interview way back when he was 19, that he preferred bull riding because he didn’t have to trailer a horse around to events..plus everybody loved watching the bull riders because of the danger and he kind of enjoyed the attention..no doubt from the ladies

As if it was necessary to further prove his toughness, Swartos joined the Marine Corps during which he took part in the Military Rodeo Association..which has since folded.swartos marine corps

Even though bull riding is the most dangerous event in rodeo by far, Swartos told me he was really lucky. “I escaped serious injury. I got stepped on a few times. Once the hoof ripped my pants off just inches away from turning me into a steer. “

He doesn’t think all those hours on the mechanical bull were that close to the real thing but better than nothing.swartos rodeo twoswartos rodeo

These days, Swartos, now 41, is a happily married father of four who lives on the family farm and works at a nearby ethanol plant.swartos wedding 2013

Rodeo is no longer part of his life.

Well, that’s not entirely true. He’s married to Kelly Jo Scofield..who grew up in a rodeo family whose brother,  Justin Scofield, is a tie down rodeo champion. As a result, Kevin’s kids all love the sport too but even though their dad was fearless in life..the military..and the bull ring..it’s their uncle Justin the kids idolize.

The Swartos kids with their rodeo  hero, Uncle Justin Scofield

The Swartos kids with their rodeo
hero, Uncle Justin Scofield

Kevin told me, “The kids think uncle Justin walks on water and that’s okay with me”. I was never good with a rope. Participating in calf roping and other timed events is a whole lot safer and, thanks to Justin, the kids are good at it.”

Nothing like a family to mellow a legitimate tough guy who wasn’t afraid to put his life on the line for his country..or a few bucks and an 8 second thrill ride in the rodeo arena.

Kevin Swartos with son Cole.

Kevin Swartos with son Cole.

Ain’t That The Berries

Posted: Thursday, April 30, 2015 at 1:36 pm
By: Doug Lund

 

WARNING: THE FOLLOWING LUND AT LARGE BLOG CONTAINS MATURE SUBJECT MATTER; READER DISCRETION ADVISED.

 

Ha.. never thought I’d ever feel obliged to post a disclaimer on my scribblings here ..but then again, I don’t wish to alienate any of you good folks by publically discussing, without a heads up, (pun intended)  a subject that most would consider to be rather sensitive…err..umm..

Erectile  Dysfunction. E.D.

But, then if you watch network television these days, including  “60 Minutes” which comes on the air at what used to be considered “family viewing time”, you’ve already been exposed to it without any advanced warning so I don’t know why I bother..but it has to do with advertizing certain products  that have to do with ..errr..umm Sex.  More specifically, intimate relations between people of advanced age (40 to dead)  who are discovering that over time,  attempts to satisfy their desires are coming up short, (pun intended) embarrassingly disappointing or downright painful.

In recent years, our lord in his mercy, has seen fit to hear those cries of despair and frustration coming from the bedrooms of empty nesters around the world and empowered pharmaceutical  researchers with the knowledge to create medications to lift men’s spirits (pun intended) and ease women’s suffering.

All Hail PFIZER!

At first, these miracle medications were discreetly publicized..and then prescribed by a physician only after reluctantly confessing your most private shortcomings. (pun intended.)

It wasn’t long, though, (no pun intended) before Pfizer began a campaign to make ED part of our national lexicon. Nothing to be embarrassed about the ads suggested. Heck, they even got one of the toughest men of NASCAR, Mark Martin, to drive a race car with their logo plastered all over it.viagra mark martin

Mark retired a couple years ago. Sadly, he never won a championship but everyone who follows the sport knows he should have because no driver in the sport ever tried harder. (pun intended.)

In recent years, the product has been well publicized on television with those washed-out color commercials of  macho men getting their pickup stuck in the mud or putting water in the radiator of an overheated muscle car. The announcer did all the talking and the only suggestive part was the sweaty guy arriving home where he presumably popped  a little blue pill he’d picked up at the drug store in town, grabbed a long shower (30 minutes to an hour)  and then headed for bed where this time he would rise to the occasion (pun intended) much to her relief and satisfaction. Well, now for the first time, we’re seeing this lovely lady clad in her negligee looking all alluring telling us in TV land..including the entire 60 Minutes audience..that she’d much rather curl up with a man than a book and there’s no shame for a fella to not be able to finish what he started. Half the guys over 40 have problems in that area. (if ya know what I mean..heh heh) So, why don’t ya load up on Viagra and come over and see me sometime. Now back to Leslie Stahl on preschool education.

viagra

UNLESS, of course, the experience is too painful due to post menopausal dryness.

Yup.. that’s the other commercial I saw on “60 Minutes” shortly after the “cougar” lady promoting  blue pills to help her man finish what he started.

Man, that one made this old prude glad there weren’t any grandkids in the room to ask questions.viagra good one

I’m not unsympathetic to the problem of vaginal discomfort for women past a certain age whose significant other still has longings (pun intended) or recently discovered the power of blue, but frank discussions of creams and application techniques, make me squirm almost as much as if I were to discuss the pros and cons of circumcision at the dinner table.

I used to wonder how I’d know when my time of relevance on this earth was drawing to a close..and it’s showing up every day folks..mostly with how we’re expected to accept stuff that just seems wrong..be it in television, politics or the bedroom.

Which reminds me of how Ole and Lena were sagging (pun intended) in that department so Ole went to town and purchased the item promising to make him more manlike again. He started taking it as directed but when he failed to measure up (pun intended) he finally explained to Lena that the doggon stuff  just don’t work and showed her the package. She said, “Ole, you dumb ting. This  is Vigoro..not Viagra..Vigoro is plant food.”

“Oh, Vell,” said Ole, “That would explain the berries then.”

Hello, This Is Neal

Posted: Tuesday, April 21, 2015 at 12:02 pm
By: Doug Lund

 

“What are you going to do today?” Linda yells from downstairs..barely audible over the din of the treadmill she fires up 4 mornings a week.

“Research for the blog.” I yell back from my leather recliner in front of the Vizio HD with a HP notebook  in my lap and a distilled beverage close at hand.

It’s true, I do get a lot of  blog ideas surfing the web but more often than not, I get distracted chasing link after link and end up miles away from the original starting line.

This past week, though, I did come up with what journalists might call an honest to goodness “Scoop.” At least I don’t think anybody else has this one. Maybe nobody cares..but here goes.

How many remember Neal Wanless?

Think back six years to June when a rail-thin down on his luck 23 year old cowboy from Todd County, South Dakota  stepped forward to claim the Powerball Jackpot worth 232 million dollars and rode off into the sunset never to be heard from again. Well, that’s not entirely true. First, he took the one-time payment which, after taxes, came all the way down to 88 and a half million dollars. He and his family then used a big chunk of that to buy land out West near Vale. He became South Dakota’s version of the recluse billionaire, Howard Hughes. (If that name doesn’t ring a bell.. I’m sorry..try Google)wanless check

Well, I’ve not only seen Mr. Wanless, I’ve talked to him.

Here’s the “Scoop”..the “Exclusive”..the..aw, shut up, Doug.

Even though I was able to go to the Barrett/Jackson Classic Car auction in person when we were in Phoenix last January, I wasn’t there for the biggest day of the sale; So I was anxious to watch a replay on television last week when most of the expensive cars cross the block; some bringing millions of dollars. The bidders themselves are fun to watch as they agonize under the constant pressure to keep going higher and higher in an expensive game of chicken over a vehicle two or more people want.

This was one of those cars.

wanless mustang

A 1967 Shelby Mustang race ready GT 500 big block in Midnight Blue. It was a gift from the late Carroll Shelby himself to his son Michael and considered one of the most collectible cars in Shelby history.

Suddenly on TV up popped the bidder in the balcony who seemed determined not to lose out. Immediately, I thought to myself..I’ve seen that skinny guy in the black hat before. You don’t suppose it’s Powerball winner Neal Wanless do you? The bidding went on for some time and the cameras kept going back and forth from car to bidder and then I realized…crap..I’m not recording this. Just then, the gavel came down, “Sold, Sold, Sold..400 thousand dollars.” There’s my guy with a smile as big as his hat getting congratulated by the Barrett/Jackson assistant and I didn’t record it.

Wait a sec. I have DVR..I’m always recording live television. Just hit the reverse button, get your camera out and….voila.

neil wanless 005

Barrett/Jackson doesn’t disclose buyer’s names but I was convinced in my mind that the young fella who was last seen by most of us picking up that big check in 2009 was, indeed, the same guy picking up a Shelby in Scottsdale.

I was just going to post the pictures and let you decide but then figured..what the heck..maybe I can find out myself so I called some folks I know in Winner where the winning Powerball Ticket was purchased by Wanless. I don’t know if my intention was to dig up some dirt on the young man who left Todd County shortly after he won the money…but I didn’t find any.

So I called a pal in Belle Fourche which is near the ranch Wanless bought with 10 million of his winnings. “He keeps a real low profile.” My friend told me. “He loves horses and rodeo and is very active in both. Around here, most people treat him just like another rancher and I’m pretty sure that how he prefers it. I’m also pretty sure you can’t just drive right out to his place..but he’s certainly not in hiding.”

My friend did give me a number he thought I might try.

I was kind of shocked when a man’s voice answered on the second ring. So surprised that I asked who it was. “This is Neal,” the voice came back. I nervously rattled off that I was Doug Lund with Keloland TV..which was appropriate, of course, to identify myself as a reporter, but I’d hoped to put him at ease first with a little relaxing small talk.  So I quickly tried to recover, “Neal  that was you I saw on TV getting the Shelby at Barrett/Jackson wasn’t it?”  “Yeah. It was” “That’s quite a car.” “Yeah.”

Short one word answers..he hates this. Come, on..think, man, think.

“Neal, it’s been quite a while since the lottery, just wondering what’s been going on in your life. Have you gotten married or any plans to?”  “No”  “ Would you be open to Kevin Woster coming out to…..CLICK.’

Well, that’s what I get for acting like some TMZ or ET reporter.

I’ve never been cut out for ambush interviews or trying to squeeze answers out of people who just want to be left alone.

So that’s it; my big scoop; three short answers in a phone call Neal Wanless wanted no part of and a screen grab from a TV car auction..all from the comfort of my man cave.

Linda’s right I do need to get out more.

As for Neal Wanless. I’m sorry I bothered you, Bud. I won’t be calling again and I hope others respect your privacy too. I also hope you can understand that not everyone wants something from you..it’s just that you’re living the dream so many have envisioned for themselves and are simply curious.

But  enjoy your fortune your way. Keep respecting God, your parents and hard work.

Oh, and have fun with that special new Mustang named “Shelby” now in your stable with those other prized Ponies.

neil wanless 008

What About Bob?

Posted: Wednesday, April 15, 2015 at 2:09 pm
By: Doug Lund

schieffer

 

Why in the world is Bob Schieffer  retiring from CBS?

He’s still the sharpest knife in the network’s drawer. His political savvy and general news knowledge is unsurpassed by anybody in TV broadcasting.

Bob Schieffer is just too important to leave. So why is he?

Oh, that’s right. The man is 78 years old. He’s done about all there is to do in the television news business. Covered every story. Monitored every debate. Asked all the questions. Anchored all the newscasts.

Perhaps he just wants to finally put the D.C. Beltway in his rear view mirror and head home to Texas where he can stroll through fields of Blue Bonnets thinking up lyrics to country songs.

It also might be nice to travel abroad without a camera crew in tow and maybe come up with ideas for another book or two before the good Lord calls him home.

I’ve always admired Bob Schieffer for probably the same reasons you do; his incredible knowledge of history and politics and how he reports it on TV..not with the perceptible arrogance of a Dan Rather but with a respect for viewers and in language people understand. Aside from Charles Kuralt and Tom Brokaw, nobody has represented citizen Doug better than Bob Schieffer in asking the questions I want answers to; be they posed to pontiffs or peasants or presidents.

For some reason, Bob Schieffer has never been on CBS’s “A” list for anchoring the “Evening News”..although I hear that after Uncle Walter was forced into retirement in 1981 because of some idiotic network age limitation, Schieffer was 3rd on the list behind Roger Mudd and the eventual successor to the anchor throne; Dan Rather.

Ironic, then, that when Rather..who managed to take a number 1 broadcast into a the comfortable number 3 position with his stiff personality and staccato presentation, finally got himself fired by letting his bias show over the George W. Bush Air National Guard document  fiasco, ..it was Schieffer the network called upon to calm the storm. Schieffer was 68 when he took over the reins..three years older than when Cronkite was forced out. It was understood that he would be interim anchor and Schieffer..being the gentleman he is and always has been, accepted that. What I didn’t understand then and don’t understand now is why the network didn’t just offer him the position straight out. He clearly saved the broadcast; restoring trust in a ship that was sinking with Rather at the helm. His ratings jumped,demonstrating that viewers appreciated the straight talking easy going Texan who’d been a familiar symbol of CBS integrity since the sixties. Plus, he loved doing it.

I particularly liked moments like this. When most anchors are afraid to break out of their stoic character and give a genuine reaction to a story, Bob Schieffer, never hid his feelings..be they sad or hilarious.

YouTube Preview Image

He should have had the job. But no, the network decided that NBC’s morning darling, Katie Couric, had the right stuff for evenings..so, after nearly a year and a half of grooming, she stepped into the CBS anchor chair with a five year 75 million dollar contract and Bob graciously gave it up. In fact, he was back to being a reporter on that same broadcast the next night and, of course, his duties as host of the award winning “Face The Nation.”

A lot of people were clamoring for interviews with Schieffer upon his departure from the anchor chair and, being Bob, he was busy granting most of them. So I wasn’t expecting anything when I sent him an e-mail saying pretty much what I’ve said above; that I’ve always admired his work..that I’ve considered him to be a class act and that he proved it once again with his gracious exit and his Southern Gentleman attitude toward Katie. I mentioned I was about to retire after 32 years in broadcasting and learned again from him on how to do it gracefully.

It was that very evening I received a reply and..doggonit..I swear I saved but can’t find it. Here, as best as I can recall was what Mr. Schieffer said:  “Well, Doug, that’s about the nicest thing I’ve ever heard. You’ve just made my day. My best to you down the road. Bob.

A couple months later, I actually got to meet the man himself as he came to South Dakota as a recipient of the Al Neuharth Excellence award in Vermillion. It was at that ceremony, we discovered Schieffer’s “country side.”  Here’s the story I did. I must say that as a country music writer and performer, Bob Schieffer is a tremendous newsman.

http://www.keloland.com/newsdetail.cfm/lund-at-large-singing-schieffer/?id=51552

Remembering Trygve

Posted: Tuesday, April 7, 2015 at 12:07 pm
By: Doug Lund

tryg farm place

I first heard the term “Norwegian Bachelor Farmer” when I fell head over heels in love with Garrison Keillor’s PBS radio show, “A Prairie Home Companion back in 1982.”  My favorite part of the program was..and is..Keillor’s “News from Lake Wobegon;”an account of the people and week’s events in the fictional little Minnesota town of his youth.

Keillor’s humorous and often poignant ramblings have always struck a nostalgic chord with me and all listeners who grew up in and around towns just like Lake Wobegon “where all the women are strong, all the men are good looking and all the children are above average.”

I must admit, though, if there was a real town that most closely resembles Lake Wobegon, not only in size and proximity of lake to land but also in real life characters it’s Hendricks, Minnesota.

My friend and longtime Keloland colleague has been telling me about the unique folks of Hendricks ever since he built a cabin on the lake just a quarter mile or so west of town over 30 years ago. Since that time, he’s turned his cabin into a permanent home with several additions and modifications..several of them made after suffering a series of personal losses. It was during those times, I think, Steve  found comfort among the positive thinking folks in his adoptive home town. Folks like John and Joy Thompson who, went against the grain and turned an old funeral home into a lovely B&B..then continued buying property on Main Street in hopes of jump starting businesses there. Gary and Sherry Johnson who were disappointed that there wasn’t a gymnastics program or facility at the school..so they built one on their farm just outside of town and have been holding matches there ever since.  Jason Markkula has always had a love for brewing beer. Folks were skeptical when he bought the old bank building on Main with plans to turn it into a brewery. Construction went on forever but finally, the “Bank Brewery” is up and running turning out craft beers with a wildlife theme. And, for the first time in over 40 years, Hendricks has a movie theater again on Main Street. Thanks to the efforts of Jay Nelson, Gary Johnson and Ron Rybinski..the Red Barn Theater has recently opened showing first run films in this town of less than 1,000.

I think, though, Steve has been closest to the Trooien family….Phil and Roberta..who live just outside of town…but especially Trygve Trooien, Phil’s little brother and Hendrick’s best known and best loved Norwegian Bachelor Farmer.tryg with cows

I’m not sure how or why Norwegian protocol was broken and the operation and ownership of the home dairy farm was handed off to Tryg…the youngest of the boys. I’m guessing it was because the other two realized Tryg was the natural choice. He loved the hard work and never missed a milking. He was a perfectionist and wanted things run right..the old fashioned way. He also had  a droll sense of humor and was smart as a whip..both characteristics that Hemmingsen admired and cemented their friendship.

Whenever I made my way up North to Hendricks I always hoped Tryg was  around so I could get a dose of his wit and wisdom and hear that genuine Norskie accent that he no doubt acquired from years of living in that big house first with his parents..then his mom..then alone.

I also loved the site of a man in his bib over(hauls). It was all my dad and uncles ever wore except on Sundays. Tryg didn’t necessarily make that distinction..often slipping a sport coat over a clean pair on the Sabbath.  They were his trademark.tryg by old tractor

As a packrat with plenty of room in his 18-room farm house, Tryg didn’t even realize he had a unique collection until about 15 years ago. He had saved overalls his mother had patched as well as brands he had tried to see if they were better than his favorite brand, which was Lee. A friend suggested he put on a fashion show, and the 1,000-acre rancher and dairy farmer added fashion shows to his resume.
He took his show on the road, often pairing up with Used Cotton, a country/bluegrass band out of Brookings.tryg with models two
“We maintain a ‘have fun’ atmosphere throughout the show, which takes about 1 1/2 hours,” Trooien told Farm Show magazine. It takes that long to show 80 different overalls from a collection of 200+ (42 brands including some that have been “gently worn”), modeled by two of Trooien’s models and 15 local high school and college age girls. Trooien provides the loudspeaker system, background music and the commentary, including information off the tags he has saved from the overalls when they were new. For example, Finck’s claimed that their overalls “wear like a pig’s nose”.

Tryg with his full compliment of overall fashion models.

Tryg with his full compliment of overall fashion models.

It was..in part..a quest to find additions to Tryg’s over(haul) collection that led to some infamous road trips around the Midwest with Tryg, his brother, Phil.. Steve Hemmingsen and Brookings radio personality, Grant Peterson. They traveled thousands of miles..a couple hundred at a time..visiting historic places, farm operations, unique businesses and of course eating joints with lots of laughing to work up an appetite.

Steve, Grant, Trygve and Phil "on the road again."

Steve, Grant, Trygve and Phil “on the road again.”

They must have had a standing order.

They must have had a standing order.

But the good times they are a fleeting. A couple years ago, Grant suffered a debilitating stroke that cut short his radio career.  And then after he was seen driving his pickup around Hendricks on Saturday, Trygve Trooien returned to the only home he’d ever known; the family farm South of Astoria. He sat down in his recliner. That’s where the hired man found him Easter morning. Tryg’s tired heart had apparently given out.

I’d asked Steve if he’d care to write something about his old friend here and he thought Tryg and the family would like it if I would. But then, he did offer the following beautiful remembrance.

I wonder what Tryg…who always had to have brother Phil do his computer work and only had an old-fashioned dial phone…would think had he known anybody in the world can Google up Trygve Trooien, once the smallest dairy farmer in the county, then the biggest dairy farmer in the county and then the only dairy farmer in the county, all with no changes on his part. 

I don’t think most people appreciated the emotions involved when the daily dairy grind just became too much for his heart and he had to ring down the curtain on 109 years of continuous dairying in his barn on the home place south of Astoria. 

I once told him, during one of our many runs to Sioux Falls or Watertown, that I suspected that was a pretty emotional moment.  He admitted it was.  Right up until his death, he was anticipating this spring’s imminent calf crop from the small stock herd he kept, mostly for old time’s sake, I think.  He was also looking forward to spring planting on his remaining acres (he had “farmed out” a good deal of it) with his collection of old Farmalls.  Not many cabs around his place.  Just calves and cats, though a lot of them scattered with the dairy herd. 

On another of our “doctoring” trips he was reminiscing about a long-ago bachelor party that got pretty wild.  Tryg rounded out the account with: “I know for a fact that the party resulted in one marriage and….at least two divorces.”

tryg steve horse road trip

Tryg was married to farming, particularly the home place.  I asked him if he had ever considered any other occupation.  Tryg…who was  a paymaster in Vietnam which involved flying the pay envelopes to wherever the troops were…to my surprise said he kind of liked the military and could have done that for a while.  But his dad couldn’t handle the farm anymore, so it was back to Oak Lake.  In reflecting on his answer, I got to thinking “this makes sense.”  Tryg likes things in rows, nice and orderly.  The military might have suited him. tryg on thrasher

He liked to plant his corn himself.  His machinery is mostly neatly lined up next to the township road that serves as his driveway, where he would watch herds; I mean multiple herds of 20 or 30 deer, grazing on his bale stacks, up on top of the stacks like the Hartford logo.  .  Most farmers get all worked up over that.  It didn’t seem to bother Trygve.  He said his cows ate it even though the deer marked their territory first. 

Thanks, Steve

Tryg’s obit

 

Move Along. Nothing To See Here

Posted: Thursday, March 19, 2015 at 12:59 pm
By: Doug Lund

I have a new state slogan idea for the South Dakota department of tourism:

“Great Faces, Great Races.”

speed limit

That’s right folks, we admit there’s nothing in our state to see or savor between Sioux City and Fargo or Sioux Falls and Rapid City so we’ve jacked up the speed limit to 80 (which, as we all know, probably means 90 wink wink) allowing you to hammer down and put our boring state in your rear view mirror in record time.   Why heck, if you have a huge enough gas tank and enormous size bladder..you could probably “wiz” across South Dakota without ever having to stop at all.

What amazes me is how this little bit of legislation, tagged on to a gas tax and license plate fee increase, flew through the state capitol and across the governor’s desk faster than a toupee in a tornado.

State highway people are out in force hoping to get the 250 or so speed limit signs changed from 75 to 80 within in the next couple weeks. Apparently the “minimum” limit will remain at 40 M.P.H.   which means those who, for reasons of safety or economy, choose to plug along closer to the minimum than the maximum, will feel even more heat from annoyed drivers extending a one finger salute as they woosh by at  90.  Oh, and those truck drivers who regularly hold up the show blocking both lanes in their feeble attempts to pass one another? Well, I expect they’ll infuriate newly empowered lead foots even more now.

A familiar sight along every interstate in the country.

A familiar sight along every interstate in the country.

By the way, I just learned that many..if not most..trucks have speed limiters..or governors..installed on their engines restricting how fast they can go. In fact, a measure mandating those speed limiters is awaiting final approval in Washington. I’m not sure what their maximum speed will be..or is; 68 is what I’m told. It’s also not clear if the new rule, to take place in June, will apply to all big rigs on the road or just the new models. What I do know is that we can expect no end to road blocks by 18 wheelers as they try in vane to get around another semi set at the same exact maximum speed. From what I’ve read, truck drivers detest speed limiters while fleet owners love ‘em citing publically that it’s all about safety while they pocket profits from lower diesel fuel consumption.

I know a lot of you couldn’t be happier about this newly granted freedom to pour on the cobs, but I’m wondering if this could be a different kind of speed trap. Suppose the highway patrol no longer looks the other way at drivers who fudge the current limit by six or seven miles an hour and start nailing you for ANY reading on their radar that’s over 80. That would put a lot of extra money from fines into the road and bridge kitty, I’ll bet.

“But officer, I was only doing 82.” “Sorry, sir, no excuses any more.” “So I was actually able to get places faster when  it was 75?” “ That’s about it, sir. Here’s your ticket. Have a nice day.”

Oh, great, another excuse for road rage; ticked off truckers vs speeders who’ve just had their pockets picked.

Of course it’s all a moot point anyway. With all the new money for road and bridge construction, fired-up motorists who are seeing red..will likely be seeing more orange instead….as in barrels and cones where the speed limit is 45 and fines are doubled.