Archive for April 2007

Splitting Hares

Posted: Monday, April 30, 2007 at 12:00 am
By: Doug Lund
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Some exciting moments at our house this past weekend…over rabbits!.
First, on Friday, my wife noticed that those (expletive-deleted) backyard bunnies have been feasting away at the bark of our lilac bush. She’s okay with rabbits taking up winter quarters under our deck but not if it means they’re going to kill off our favorite springtime plant.
 
We’ve known from tracks in the snow that rabbits were under there but forgot that they breed like…well…rabbits. Then Sunday as we were sitting outside enjoying the record breaking warm weather, our five year old granddaughter and the neighbor girl started screaming with delight. They’d spotted a baby bunny emerging from the darkness and protection of below deck into the bright sunshine.
“It looks thirsty grandma,” said Zoey…and so my wife who earlier had been ready to kill this furry little creature’s mother for bark abuse, agreed and went to find the water dish which, incidentally, she had bought for the stray cats that pop in from time to time.
But before she could get water the little fella had hopped into the garage and under the car.
Zoey and her new friend, even more excited now, tried coaxing the bunny out but to no avail. Finally, everyone stepped away and, sure enough, the little fur-ball scurried out the door and back to the safety of it’s own family living a couple feet below us.
 
I was rooting for the rabbit to be okay. Here’s why.
 
Recently, Linda and I were driving along the back roads to Alcester when I commented at not having seen a jackrabbit in years. There used to be millions of them.
Were they hunted into near extinction or did they die of embarrassment at the thought of being turned into jackalopes and sold to tourists?
It’s just as well that I haven’t seen any for a long time because it only brings up a traumatic experience from my youth.
During pheasant season sometime in the sixties, I was frustrated at not having fired my gun all day. That’s when I spotted this jackrabbit standing at attention in a plowed field..nearly within range of my 12 gauge. My buddies dared me to take a shot.
I did.
The pellets only wounded the poor thing and its painful screams sounded like a baby crying. Upset at what I’d done, I decided to reload and go put the prairie hare out of its misery but it had limped off into a shelterbelt. We could still hear that sickening sound as we got back in the car and left.
I was sick about it then and guess I still haven’t gotten over it.
I recently read in South Dakota Magazine that jackrabbit numbers are gradually bouncing back in the state.  I hope so.
They certainly have nothing to fear from me.
 

Getting Back In The Swing

Posted: Wednesday, April 25, 2007 at 12:00 am
By: Doug Lund
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I confess, I’ve been living a lie for the past couple years. Remember all those times Jay Trobec and Angela Kennecke would tease me on the air about how the weather might affect my golf game or that I should play hooky from work to indulge my passion for the sport?
Well, the truth is I quit playing golf for a couple years.  I did not toss my clubs in a water hazard and walk off in a huff.  I just got fed up after another poor round and left the game.
Actually, I think the game left me. I blame the likes of Tiger Woods, John Daly, Phil Mickelson, Ernie Els, Retief Goosen and all those other professional players who hit the ball so hard and long that it sucks the spirit out of the competition. They’ve become heroes to most amateurs… but not me.
Golf used to be more of a finesse game where an average hitter had a chance to reach the green in two even if you were using your dad’s old set of Northwestern clubs. A long par four was 390 yards…a par five 520.  Now, some of the game’s big hitters can almost reach that distance off the tee.
Consequently, golf courses are being designed to be longer and the greens faster so today’s players have more of a challenge.  It’s been great for golf equipment companies as we hackers try to keep pace.
Every year they’re coming out with new expensive drivers made from some futuristic metal guaranteed to send your state-of-the-art new titanium-filled balls soaring passed your buddy’s drives because he’s using last year’s outdated model made from the same material as the nose cone on space shuttle Discovery.
Oh, yes, I was one of those desperate people who tried to spend my way to success on the golf course.  I have a garage full of clubs and putters of all shapes and sizes that, when I paid through the nose for them, were practically guaranteed to take from five to ten strokes off my score. None of them did, of course, but I was too ashamed to return them for a refund.
I should have invested those thousands into golf lessons instead of drivers the size of a Volkswagen Beetle.
Now that I have a lot of time on my hands, I have made my way back onto the links for an occasional round but as the years add up, my game has gone down. Even a driver made of plutonium or kryptonite wouldn’t get me passed 250 yards anymore. That’s a distinct disadvantage when you wind up in a group consisting of younger flat-bellied guys who like to hit from the back tees. 
So tomorrow I’m playing with some fellas closer to my own age and weight. We tee-off at one.
I’m kind of anxious to see how my new Callaway X-18 Irons work. Hey the salesman says they’re what all the pros are hitting!

Ending The Ratt Race

Posted: Thursday, April 19, 2007 at 12:00 am
By: Doug Lund
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There are a few certainties in life; the sun will come up in the morning, the Vikings will never win a Super Bowl and Ratt Reno will be live on the air every day playing traditional country music at KXRB Radio.
Ooops..forget about that last one. 
At 67, my old friend and broadcast hero has decided to follow Hemmingsen and me down that dark mysterious road of retirement…sort of.  Ratt’s familiar voice will continue to be heard over KXRB..but his segments will be pre-recorded away from the studio.
Back in 1969, area AM radio stations pretty much focused on farmers, (WNAX) housewives (KSOO) and teens. (KISD).
No one had thought of..or dared to try..cashing-in on the fast growing country music market. No one until John Breece, that is. 
In February of that year, he exploded into the market with KXRB. It had a powerful signal, a powerful country-only format and a powerful team of disc jockeys that included Joe Morrison, Dale Thomas and, Ratt Reno.
So polished were these guys that from the very first day it sounded like the station had been on the air for years. Each had a distinctive voice, amazing knowledge of country music and a crazy sense of humor..the likes of which local radio listeners had never been exposed to before.
I listened to them all but liked Ratt the best. Anyone who can go through life with the nickname of a universally despised rodent is okay in my book. 
When I moved to Sioux Falls late in 1969, I bumped into Ratt during a break at a nightclub where he was playing drums with D.K. and the Coachmen. 
“I’m a big fan of your show,” I said. “I also play drums.” That’s when his eyes lit up. 
“Hey, D.K., say hello to Doug Lund..he plays the tubs with Ralph Lundquist and the Midwest Travelers over at the J&M..can he sit in?”
Sit in? I don’t want to sit in! But Ratt insisted and the next thing I know is I’m up on stage playing my radio idol’s drums on a Johnny Cash song.
Ratt Reno retiring from KXRB

A couple years later, I actually went to work for KXRB trying to sell radio advertising. 
I was terrible at it but did get a chance to hob nob with the on-air guys at the studio which at that time was a double-wide parked by the radio towers just east of town. 
The first time I delivered ad copy out to the trailer for them to record was nearly my last.
I’d always thought St.Bernard dogs were gentle giants. Indeed, when the KXRB announcers talked about their station mascot, Mama Cass, listeners imagined her to be this loveable lug ready to lick your face and give you a swig from the barrel of booze hung around her neck.But in real life..Cass was nothing like that and we were warned to call ahead and make sure she was tied up before going out to the studio. She had a reputation of treating strangers like chew toys.
As I was leaving and about to get into the car, I noticed Ratt standing at the trailer door with a big grin on his face. Then he said “SIC’EM!” 
At that moment Cass came charging out of the building like a grizzly on a salmon. 
It was like a scene out of the Cujo movie as this huge orange and white barking beast reared-up against the car with only an quarter inch piece of glass between his teeth and my head.
As I pulled away, I could see Ratt through my slobber-stained window, doubled over with laughter.
I hope to share that story and maybe a few more this Sunday afternoon at Roosters in Garretson where they’re going to roast Ratt in honor of his retirement.
The fun starts at 2:00 PM. Who knows, I might just bring the neighbor’s Rat Terrier along for revenge.

A Parent’s Worst Nightmare

Posted: Tuesday, April 17, 2007 at 12:00 am
By: Doug Lund
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Those of us who spent a long time in the news business would always cringe whenever we heard a reporter say, “A parent’s worst nightmare.” It has become one of those overused phrases like “an accident waiting to happen” or “lucky to be alive.” 
Yet, in the aftermath of what has occurred this week, I’ve been thinking about the parents who are now getting those dreaded calls and being told the awful news that their child is among those murdered by a madman on the Virginia Tech campus.
All of us as parents have at one time or another imagined or had “nightmares” about getting such a call and, cliché or not, nothing you can imagine “could” be worse.
 
My second attempt at marriage during the 70’s was a scaled-down version of “The Brady Bunch.” I had two daughters, Suzan and Patty, and she had two daughters about the same age as mine, Lezlie and Sonja. When we split-up after seven years it meant the step-sisters were forced to split-up too.
That was really tough on Suzan and Sonja who had grown especially close.  It was easy to love Sonja. She was an adorable child with long blonde hair.  Although rather quiet and shy, she had a beautiful caring soul and a contagious laugh. 
Sadly, I didn’t see much of Sonja in the years following the divorce but she had grown into a stunning young woman with the same marvelous personality.
She and her big step-sister, Suzan, remained close, though, all the way to the end.
 
“Sonja has cancer and it’s bad,” Suzan said on the phone fighting back tears. “I’m flying home to be with her.”
And, indeed, she was at her bedside when Sonja slipped away leaving her family and everyone who loved her in a daze.
We should not outlive our children. 
I pray that the parents of those Virginia Tech students who must now live with that reality will someday be able to have sweet dreams again.