Archive for July 2007

How Sweet it is!

Posted: Monday, July 30, 2007 at 12:00 am
By: Doug Lund
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“People have tried and tried but sex is not better than sweet corn”
(Garrison Keillor, “A Prairie Home Companion”)
 
I don’t know if I’d go that far, but I certainly have to agree with the bard from Lake Wobegon, that dining on fresh sweet corn with butter and salt is about as pleasurable experience as one can have while fully clothed.
 
I live on the east side of Sioux Falls, and, as Perry Groten reported last week, east 10th street is to sweet corn what the “strip” is to gambling in Las Vegas.
I’ve done lots of stories on sweet corn over the years including with my old pal Vernon Frye who operates Belly Acres Greenhouse along  highway 77 near Baltic. He taught me all about the importance of getting sweet corn under refrigeration and then eaten as fast as possible because the sugar starts turning to starch as soon as it’s  picked. He says every minute those ears sit out in the hot sun, they’re becoming..what amounts to..silage. Yuck.
Frye also has issues with corn vendors with big signs offering “kandy” corn.
He says there is a late season variety that’s actually called candy corn..but that’s not what most stands are selling.  Over the years, he’s thought about suing for false advertising but I don’t think it’s ever wound up in court.
I do agree that the fresher the better when it comes to sweet corn but I’ve kept it in the fridge for up to a week and still enjoyed each bite.Dan "Tiny" Parker gnaws through 19 ears to win corn eating contest in Olathe, Colo.(photo:Matt McClain, Rocky Mt. News)
There are also lots of ways to prepare corn on the cob and I’ve tried them all but still prefer boiling the ears for a few minutes using a bit of sugar instead of salt in the water.
Microwaving will also do in a pinch. On the grill is okay but not in the husk. There’s something about the smell of burned corn silk that’s not very appetizing.
 
Last summer I decided to do a taste test of some of the corn being offered by vendors around town.
One was an old farmer near Vermillion who was set up by the Western Mall. He had the most perfect looking ears I’ve ever seen. They were pretty spendy though..six dollars a dozen, as I recall.  I spent five dollars for a dozen that I bought from the stand at Cliff and 10th…and another dozen from the Hokeness Farm kiosk and flatbed trailer at 10th and Cleveland. The cost there was only a dollar so long as you buy some other produce item at regular price.
 
We lugged our corn back to KELO and cooked some up in the lunchroom microwave. I then had Healthbeat reporter, Jaine Andrews, sample all three. She found the cheapest to be the best and we all agreed. Then nearly everybody in the newsroom came in to sample or take a few ears home.
Even if the corn that won our little taste test had been turning to silage in the sun on the back of that flatbed all day, it was still the sweetest I’d ever had.
I don’t know how this year’s crop is..we’ve been sort of distracted this summer.
But everyday when I drive by that huge pile of fresh picked sweet corn my mouth starts to water as I wonder how many of the 12 thousand ears they bring in each morning I could eat in one sitting.
I’m feeling a little frisky just thinking about it.
 
“LINDA, if you’re not busy what are you doing for the next two minutes?”

When it was a Game

Posted: Wednesday, July 25, 2007 at 12:00 am
By: Doug Lund
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Aside from worring that the Russians could start a nuclear war at any minute and blow us all to kingdom come, the fifties was a great time to be a kid..especially a kid who loved baseball.
If we weren’t playing the game on some makeshift ball diamond, we were thinking about it.
Back then, most people were either fans of the Yankees or the Dodgers.
My cousin, Grouse and I were Dodger blue through and through.
Whenever we played, he would be number 4, Duke Snider, I was number 14, Gil Hodges..two Dodger greats who went on to the hall of fame.
 
After we got a TV set in 1953, we never missed the Saturday Game of the Week with announcers  Dizzy Dean and Buddy Blatner..sponsored by Falstaff beer. Oh, man, even though I was only a kid, I could imagine how good that stuff must taste when ol’ Diz would pour a foamy glass-full during the live commercials.
Being for the Dodgers, though, usually meant suffering and pain each October when they’d get to the World Series against the Yanks and find a way to lose.
(As I think back, it was good preparation for football heartaches courtesy of the Vikings.)
But 1955 was different. After losing the first two games against those damn Yankees, Brooklyn went on to win the next three and eventually take game seven and the series. Duke hit four homers and Gil also had a homer and several key hits.
It was big stuff for a 9 year old kid, I’ll tell ya.
Out here on the great plains, we weren’t as traumatized as the Dodger fans in Brooklyn when the team moved to Los Angeles two years later.
We just got my aunt Leila to cut out an L.A. logo from white felt and sew it on our blue caps where the “B” had been.
But even lifelong loyalties can be fickle, especially when you have a major league team move essentially in your own backyard as the Senators did when they left Washington DC and came to Minnesota in 1961.
With players like Harmon Killebrew, Bob Allison and Earl Battey, the Twins started winning games..and our hearts..the very next year.
I’ll never forget the first time I got to go to a game at Metropolitan Stadium and how my jaw dropped at the site of that beautiful green field and the letters spelling out TWINS around home plate.
I can still hear the nasally voice of Twins announcer Bob Casey introducing the players; “Now batting, Twins shortstop, Zoilo Versalles..Versalles.” (I’m pretty sure he said “Ver-Sallys)
Or the stadium vendors cry..”Beer here..cold beer here.” (again with the beer)
I had to settle for an “Iiiice cold Coke” and a hot dog.
 
I now have three grandsons who play ball..and play very well, I might add. But I don’t know if they look at the game the same way..with the same reverence..with the same kind of heroes.
 
Years ago, I had the rare opportunity of interviewing baseball legend, Hank Aaron whose home run record will likely be broken any day now by Barry Bonds.
Even then he was concerned about the way the game was heading..with guys more interested in money and personal statistics than team loyalty and the simple joy of just playing.
Recently, Aaron said he was not going to be in attendance when Bonds erased his record and I really don’t blame him. 
I’m not all that interested in seeing it either.
I keep thinking about that motto we learned as kids that seems to no longer apply in some batting circles;
“Cheaters never win and winners never cheat.” 

Pondering Life’s Mysteries(updates in comments)

Posted: Monday, July 23, 2007 at 12:00 am
By: Doug Lund
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Last Friday, another family that’s been spending a lot of time in the Avera Mckennan ICU waiting room got the bad news that their loved one..a young man in his early 20’s, had lost his battle with leukemia.
Amid their sorrow…just a few feet away..our family was rejoicing after the doctor for  my 83 year old Mother-in-Law, Mary, was using the word “miraculous” to describe her remarkable turn around.
And now, 24 hours after being moved out of intensive care and into a private room, Mary is sitting up, eating and asking questions. She’s concerned about how she looks and is sort of stunned by all the attention.
 
In the waiting room today I noticed one of my favorite people come in. Reverend Marlin Haugrud. He’s the longtime pastor at Canton Lutheran Church. He is a gentle caring soul and wonderful dedicated minister of the gospel.
I was about to go over and tell him about the miracle that has happened to our family but he was quietly talking to a distraught woman whom I later found out was a member of his church and whose husband was diagnosed with cancer 6 weeks ago. His prognosis is grim.
Before Pastor Haugrud left, I did talk to him and introduce Mary’s family.
I also asked the age old question; why does God seem to answer some prayers and not others?
“There is no clear cut answer,” he said. “All we can do is keep praying and giving thanks.”
Then he asked if he could visit with Mary.
"Well, she’s a pretty devout Catholic but I’m sure she’d appreciate a second opinion," I said.
And of course she did.. squeezing his hand as he offered up prayers of thanks and for her continued recovery.
 
This will probably be my last blog entry on the subject. But I’ll keep you updated in the comments section below.
All we can say is “THANK YOU” for caring and sharing. Below is a picture of Mother Mary and all 8 kids..From left to right, Shelle, Bill, Linda, Chad, Renee, Jeff, Cynthia and Maria.

ICU (updates..click comments)

Posted: Thursday, July 19, 2007 at 12:00 am
By: Doug Lund
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It’s a real privilege that Keloland allows me this space on the website to share some of my thoughts and memories with you.
I hadn’t planned on it being used for daily updates on my mother-in-law’s condition but so many people have indicated that they keep checking the blog for news.
Many of you don’t even know Mother Mary but are pulling for her recovery just the same.
She has remained unconscious since arriving here by air ambulance Sunday morning.
At first she was diagnosed with shingles..then possibly West Nile Virus..now it appears it was dehydration and extremely low sodium which brought on what doctors describe as “a very sick heart.”
She remains in the ICU filled with tubes and hooked up to monitors.
It’s to the point now that if Mary makes the slightest movement, the family gets excited..only to be disappointed again when her sodium level goes down or blood pressure fluctuates. Emotional roller coaster comes to mind.
The whole family will be here Friday.
As much as Mary loves having her kids around, that, if nothing else, could wake her up because she’d hate to miss it.
Despite everything, there are moments of levity in this depressing place.
 
On that first day, there was a huge basket filled with chips and Cheetos and Cracker Jack sitting on the waiting room table. None of us had eaten and helped ourselves to about ten bags of treats. We all figured it was left there by some caring  volunteer only to find out that it actually belonged to a family from near Mobridge.
The Mobridge people had a good laugh over it but I noticed they’ve been keeping a closer eye on all their belongings when we’re around.
We got paybacks yesterday, though, when our daughter brought up hot sandwiches, baked beans and pickles for lunch.
She left it in on the vending room table and everybody in both waiting rooms, including the Mobridge bunch, helped themselves…..no doubt surprised at the hospital’s generous gesture.
But, like the loaves and fishes at the Sermon on the Mount, the barbeque and beans seemed to multiply and there was plenty to go around.
It doesn’t take much to entertain us as the wait goes on.
The family has been reading all your comments and wanted me to say how grateful they are for the amazing concern from friends and strangers.  

The Waiting Game

Posted: Wednesday, July 18, 2007 at 12:00 am
By: Doug Lund
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Dear Lord..please grant me patience…and grant it to me NOW.
 
That’s an old joke I probably read in a book of church humor somewhere but there certainly is some truth to it..in my case anyway.
 
Most of you have gone through what we are going through now: waiting..and waiting..and waiting in the hospital for news about a loved one.
 
Linda’s big family has now kind of staked out a corner of the ICU waiting room looking anxiously at the door every time someone walks by in hopes it will be a doctor or nurse with information on Mother Mary’s condition.
Results of lab tests promised in a half hour to 45 minutes, usually don’t get passed down for several hours.
While Linda and the others seem to have adjusted to the frustrations of “hospital’ time versus real time, it just drives me crazy and wish I had their patience.
 
I know where it comes from….their mom.
 
Mary Trudeau is one of the most unflappable people I’ve ever met.
She was having babies pretty much through the forties, fifties and sixties and there wasn’t much money or many frills but she still managed to raise each of her eight children in an atmosphere of love, respect and responsibility in their tiny Alcester home.
 
I, of course, didn’t know my future mother-in-law back then but you can see the fruits of her labor reflected in those same children all grown up today who now faithfully and patiently deal with her illness and, as the hours pass, courageously accept the reality of the situation.
I just want to kick something.
 
There isn’t time or space here to explain the kind of person Mother Mary is..but here’s one small example that I think speaks volumes.
 
She probably wouldn’t want me telling you this but the kids all talk of how their dad, Len, used to snore so loud at night it would rock the rafters..
I once asked Mary, how in the world she could stand it. I said when there’s snoring in our house one of us usually retreats in disgust to another room in order get some sleep.
She just smiled and said, “Oh, you get used to it. Besides I take comfort in the knowledge that he’s safe and sound right there beside me.”
 
“Dear Lord, grant me patience..and please make it something like you gave Mary.”

Mother Mary (update in comments)

Posted: Sunday, July 15, 2007 at 12:00 am
By: Doug Lund
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As most of you probably know, I’ve been married before. Well, okay, twice before. Lucky for me, Linda has stuck with me for 23 years now..and we both figure it will probably work out.I only bring  this up  because, contrary to what comedians like to joke about, I have gotten along great with all my mothers-in-law…espcially Linda’s mom, Mary Trudeau. She is devoutly Cathloic but has accepted this Lutheran into the family with open arms and I’ve adjusted to everybody else crossing themselves after praying..in church or at the table. Mary and Linda’s Dad, Len, had eight children. The youngest just turned forty.  Len died seven years ago and now, as I write this from the Intensive Care waiting room at Avera hospital, I’m really worried she might be anxious to join him.She hasn’t been feeling well all week and Saturday morning went to the doctor and was diagnosed with shingles. Linda and I spent the day with her in Alcester so she wasn’t alone and to make sure she took the medicine that was prescribed. Even though she was clearly sick to her stomach, she insisted on sitting with us at the table like always and offering to make coffee.That’s Mother Mary..never failing to put others first.Then, this morning when her daughter Maria was there, Mary had a siezure and now we wait for word on the damage and prognosis as she lays unconscious in the ICU.I write this short entry in hopes that those of you who believe that a little prayer can do some big things, will go ahead and offer a few up on her behalf.I know she’d do it for you.

Post Execution Thoughts

Posted: Thursday, July 12, 2007 at 12:00 am
By: Doug Lund
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I had a blog all written out earlier this week containing some personal thoughts on the upcoming execution of Elijah Page.
I write these things out on the computer and was in a hurry as I was copying it over to the Keloland web site and somehow hit a wrong button and the entire column disappeared.
I did all the usual procedures to retrieve what I’d written but it was gone..a couple hours work..phhhhhht.
I quickly concluded that it wasn’t my computer incompetence that caused my profound ponderings to be wiped out..it was divine intervention.
God, Himself was watching out for me. He knows I don’t take criticism well and that the piece I’d written was sure to bring down the wrath of some of you dear readers and hurt my tender feelings. So, for my own good,  He worked a mini miracle and sent the words off to some electronic trash bin.
 
The number one question I hear these days is, “Doug, how do you like retirement..do you miss working at KELO?”
The usual answer is..”I’m liking it fine and, yes, I miss it sometimes.”
But historic events like the Page execution really get my juices flowing and it was tough to not be a part of our excellent broadcast coverage.
It’s probably just as well, though, since these are some of the trivial things that crossed my mind as I watched at home from my easy chair Wednesday night:
I wonder if Page, who wasn’t religious, had any talks with members of the clergy in his final hours. Any last minute conversion… just in case he was wrong about the Almighty? I couldn’t hear the question but did someone ask coroner Brad Randall during the briefing if Page was a Muslim and how that would affect the autopsy to which Muslim law apparently opposes? That was a new one on me.
I wonder if they make jalapeno poppers with cream sauce..part of Page’s rather sizable last meal..right there at the prison or did they order take-out? From where?
Did he eat fast or savor every last bite?
Did they bring the ice cream with the meal or keep it in a cooler so as not to melt?
Did anyone one else think it looked odd to see a bunch of people sitting in lawn chairs across from the pen like there was going to be a fireworks show afterward?
Was I the only one who was a bit surprised that Page’s elderly father who gave Keloland’s Lou Raguse the tearful interview, is also the father of that cute little baby whom he brought to the penitentiary to cheer up his condemned big brother? If, as his father said, Page was remorseful at what he’d done, why didn’t he express that when asked if he had any last words? Was anyone else wondering if Dottie Poage, mother of murder victim, Chester Poage, was ever going to speak when she stood silent for so long at the briefing podium?
Were you, like me, shocked at the eloquence of what she had to say when the well-chosen words finally came?
In her face you could see the pain of seven years without the son she bore and loved…the agony of knowing how he suffered and died.. and perhaps a bit of the guilt for being unable to convince Chester to choose his friends more wisely.
But there was also a look of relief and satisfaction at having witnessed the demise of one of her son’s murderers. You could also see a determination in her eyes that she will be there again to see justice carried out if and when Briley Piper meets the same end.

The Keloland Gold Rush

Posted: Friday, July 6, 2007 at 12:00 am
By: Doug Lund
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When I used to go on CBS promotional junkets for Keloland TV to places like New York and Los Angeles, it gave me a chance to meet representatives of other network affiliate stations from around the country. Invariably the conversation would get around to ratings.
Most were delighted if  their local newscasts could muster a 15 to 20 percent share of the viewing audience. So, when I said Keloland’s numbers are more like 45 to 55, I don’t think many of my broadcasting peers believed me.
But it was true then and it’s still true today.Some of the thanks for that, I think, should go to Joe L. Floyd..the man who began Keloland way back in 1953.Whether it was movie theaters, radio or  television, Floyd had no equal when it came to promotion and making Keloland so familiar to us that its become part of our geographic vocabulary.
Even before the station first signed-on, he began coming up with clever ways to get people to first, buy television sets…and then remain glued to KELO after they made the purchase.
 
Floyd believed that, in addition to having the best talent and equipment,  to establish viewer loyalty, you had to get them involved in one way or another with contests, personal appearances by KELO personalities or sponsorship of local events.
He even convinced people in central and western South Dakota, who were starved for television in the 50’s, to chip-in to help buy the transmitter that would bring KELO’s TV signal out to them too.
But the granddaddy of all promotions was the mind-boggling enormity of an event called the Keloland Gold Rush.
It was an opportunity to tie-into the centennial of Dakota Territory in 1961.
Keloland Gold Rush program Floyd and his staff, especially promotion director, Jack Townsend, came up with the idea of an old fashioned treasure hunt.
People could register, at stores that advertised on KELO, for a chance to win a gold shovel. (GI fox hole shovels from the Army surplus store that had to be painted gold.)
Engraved shovels were used to promote the gold rush with politicians. That’s Joe Floyd on the left and Governor Archie Gubbrud seated.On the weekend of August 26th and 27th, all 1400 winners would gather at the J.C. Johnson farm near tiny Manchester, South Dakota to dig for buried capsules. They didn’t contain gold..but notes that said which one of the 35 thousand dollars in prizes they’d won. That was a lot of money back then. Prizes included everything from household appliances to a new Chevy and the big one: $10,000 cash.
The Can you imagine the mess if it would have rained? (sorry, not very good at this picture scanning thing.)The event included appearances by bandleader, Lawrence Welk, along with Clint Eastwood and Paul Brinegar who played Rowdy Yates and Wishbone, respectively, on the popular Rawhide TV show..plus Captain 11 and other Keloland stars.
There was a talent show, carnival, fireworks and Ed Pillar’s famous dancing horse, King of Diamonds from Scotland, SD.
Even though it was hot, it didn’t rain and well over 100 thousand people showed up in 40 thousand vehicles to be part of it…a promotional masterpiece that has never been equaled in the state.
“So many things could have gone wrong with that damn thing I hate to think about it,” Joe Floyd told me in a 1978 interview. “We were very lucky with the weather and that everybody with shovel got a prize,” He said.
 
Some of the lucky gold shovel winners waiting for the signal to dig for treasure in their assigned plotsMrs. Floyd Carlon won the ten grand. I looked her up in Sioux Falls a few years ago. She told me all the money went to pay for the college education of her five children.
“Was it enough?” I asked.
“Yup,” she said.
 
Four years ago, a huge tornado destroyed all that was left of little Manchester. But  there is a historic marker that survived and is again standing along highway 14.It recounts that memorable weekend so long ago when Manchester became the largest city in Dakota Territory thanks to the imagination and gumption of a TV pioneer named Joe Floyd.

A Silver Salute to Independence

Posted: Wednesday, July 4, 2007 at 12:00 am
By: Doug Lund
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It would be like Christmas without lefse (Norwegian version of a tortilla only made from potatoes) if I didn’t see at least a short fireworks display on the Fourth of July.
So, tonight just before dark, I’ll try drag Linda, who doesn’t share my sentimentality about tradition, off to some public fireworks show.
A few years ago, I thought it would be fun for us to ride the motorcycle over to the fairgrounds and watch for free from the parking lot. But before the first rocket’s red glare, mosquitoes by the millions descended from the sky and onto our arms, legs, neck and faces.
We left long before the grand finale but that 4th was still being remembered on the 5th and 6th every time we scratched mosquito bites on the top of our feet and back of our ears.
 
My parents seemed to appreciate celebrating Independence Day with a bang. They didn’t object to our setting off Black Cat firecrackers on the street in front of our house. (I would imagine that Volga has now joined the rest of the world in banning fireworks in town)
We’d all get the obligatory “be careful” from mom and then get to the blasting.
They also didn’t seem to have a problem with our waving those welding rods called sparklers around..or staining the sidewalk with "snakes" that started out as a little black pellet but would grow, twist and curl like the real thing when ignited.My older brother, Denny, though, ruined the parental endorsement one year when he’d gotten hold of a bagful of Silver Salutes.
Those were the kind that you lit and ran away from as fast as you could because they were powerful and later banned along with cherry bombs because they were too dangerous.I’ve never heard the whole story but I’m pretty sure my brother was demonstrating his bravado to friends by lighting and throwing them. He apparently waited too long with one and wound up spending part of that Fourth of July in the doctor’s office getting his hand sewn up and powder burns dressed.
 
I’m not sure if he was able to go along that year for our annual family trip to nearby Sinai for the city fireworks show.
It wasn’t much of a show by today’s standards but I can still remember my folks smiling faces as they leaned against our ’53 Mercury in anticipation of the next colorful explosion in the sky.
One year, my dad even took home movies of it.
You’ll have to come over and see them some time.

I love my country but….

Posted: Monday, July 2, 2007 at 12:00 am
By: Doug Lund
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After longtime CBS news anchor, Walter Cronkite returned from a trip to Vietnam in 1968 and reported his observations on the air, many people began to change their minds about that war.
Cronkite concluded that our military leaders were not telling us the whole story and U.S. involvement in Vietnam, in his view, could no longer be justified.
 
I’m no Walter Cronkite and I certainly haven’t been on any fact finding missions to Iraq but I watch and read the news and have finally joined the throngs of Americans who initially supported our escapades into Iraq and now think it’s time to get out.
 
Like most of us, I believed President Bush in 2002 when he barnstormed the country warning that Saddam Hussein had those weapons of mass destruction and wasn’t afraid to use them. It was time to finish what his old man, George Sr., started ten years earlier… take the dictator out and bring freedom to the oppressed Iraqis.
Oh, yeah..we’re going into Afghanistan too and destroy Osama bin Laden..mastermind of 9-11 and all of his terrorist  disciples.
Now, five years and 35 hundred American lives later, Osama remains a slippery shadow we can’t catch, Saddam is dead and gone but we’re still over there trying to force feed democracy down the Iraqi’s throats while a fanatical insurgency, that apparently none of our leaders anticipated, kills and maims more American military personnel each day including another young Sioux Falls man this week.
 
I believed and supported the president when after the attacks on America in 2001 he said we were going to wage all out war on any country that harbored or supported terrorists.
He warned that it was going to take time but said Americans have a powerful resolve to achieve what we set out to do no matter how long it takes.
No..I don’t think we do. 
That resolve fades more each day that we’re bogged down in Iraq..being sucked dry financially (approaching a half trillion dollars) with no clear objective for our soldiers other than to be targets of fanatics who refuse to stand up and fight but are willing to kill themselves for their cause.
It’s clear that the war against terrorism cannot be won with big powerful armies.
 
Maybe I’ve read too many Tom Clancy novels, but perhaps it’s time to put our resources…some of our American bravado, brains and technology to work in coming up with other ways of locating and taking out those who wish to destroy us.
 
I have never apologized for being a flag waver. Over the years I’ve done dozens and dozens of stories and features on veterans and have nothing but admiration and appreciation for those who willingly answer their country’s call..which my Grandson, Taylor is about to do as he leaves for the Marine Corps this month.
But for God’s sake..somebody in Washington needs to carefully explain why it is so important to the freedom, wellbeing and safety of this country to send yet another Humvee full of American soldiers down a dangerous road in Iraq.