Archive for November 2007

Christmas Collectables

Posted: Wednesday, November 28, 2007 at 12:00 am
By: Doug Lund
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In my 32 years at Keloland I guess I did stories on just about every kind of collection you can imagine.
From caps, cars, tractors, (both real and toy) beer cans, dolls, Elvis, Avon, trains (both real and toy)McDonalds stuff, Vikings stuff, Packers stuff, clocks, dishes, pheasant feathers, outhouses, barbed wire and hundreds of other things.
But it was always during this time of year when I would get the most calls from folks insisting I come by and take a look at their amazing collection of Christmas-related objects.
 
I’ll bet I’ve seen more Nativity scene collections than anyone.
The same goes for Santa Claus stuff.…houses filled to the rafters with Santas from life-size ones that talk, sing and go ho, ho, ho. to little salt and pepper Santas brought out to season the lutefisk.
A couple in Brandon had the largest collection of snowmen figures on display that I’d ever seen..over a thousand with a few hundred more still in boxes.
 
Sharon Larson who lives with her husband, Don, on a farm near Brookings, spends weeks getting her house ready for the holidays. She has dozens and dozens (I can’t remember the exact number) of full size Christmas trees throughout their home.
These aren’t just little trees stuck in a corner with a few twinkle lights on them either.
Each one is elaborately and beautifully decorated.
I asked if such extravagance was to somehow make up for not having a tree when she was a kid..but she said, no, I just love Christmas and can’t seem to get enough of it.
 
That was pretty much the same reason another Brookings-area family gave when I did the story on their Christmas tree collection…well over 100 of them throughout their modest farm home.
 
In fact, my final Lund at Large story last December was on a Christmas collection in Larchwood.A few of Brad’s 3,200 Christmas collectables
Brad DeWit couldn’t wait to show me his basement that, at last count, contained roughly 15 hundred Santas, 11 hundred snowmen, 84 Nativity scenes and 500 miscellaneous Christmas related pieces.
He keeps them up year round and has to budget considerable time to keep them all dusted.
He also has to constantly warn parents of little kids who come to see his collection to make sure they look..but don’t touch!”
 
Five years ago I did a story on the Santa bear collection of Linda and my good friend, Joanie Graves.
She has managed to get one of these Christmas-theme bears every year since they were first issued by Daytons in 1984.
Both Marshall Fields and then Macy’s carried on the Santa bear tradition but this year Macy’s said 2007 would be the end of them.
The last Santa Bear issueJoanie, in a bit of a panic, dragged her husband, Denny, out of bed at 4 a.m. on Black Friday figuring that should be early enough to guarantee a purchase.
But as the line into Macy’s inched forward, the lady just in front of Joan got the last one.
 
It was a tearful, cold, quiet ride home..in the dark.. empty-handed.
 
There’s good news, though, Joanie.
That lady in front of you and apparently a lot of others are using their good fortune in getting a Santa bear to make a little extra holiday cash.
There are several now up for sale on e-bay for about triple what it would have cost had your spot in line been a little closer to the door.
Ah, the spirit of Christmas.Anyone else out there know of an impressive Christmas collection I might have missed over the years?

Cold Blooded Bells

Posted: Monday, November 26, 2007 at 12:00 am
By: Doug Lund
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I was awakened early this morning by a thumping noise coming from the basement followed by a faint sound that reminded me of the bell that teachers use to call kids in from recess.
There has been a little criminal activity in our part of town lately and my first thought was, “there’s a burglar in the basement. My second thought was “what am I going to do about it?” My third thought was, “where’s Linda?”
That’s when I realized that the Christmas season had officially arrived at our house.
She’s the one making all the noise as she drags out boxes full of decorations that have been stored in the closet under the stairs since last January 1st.
 
Now, I know what you’re thinking; why aren’t you down there helping her ya lazy lug?
Well, she doesn’t want my help., at least that’s what she says.
Linda really gets focused on the task at hand and it’s best to stay out of her way until I’m called in to give final approval to what she’s done.
“The front window looks great, Honey. Yes, I like the candle sticks on either side of the red bow and tiny twinkling tree.” No, Honey, I can’t see the electrical cords that you’ve neatly camouflaged in green garland. You’ve really outdone yourself again, Honey.”
Occasionally I’ll hear an un-Christmas-like curse come from her sweet lips as she steps back to admire her handiwork and a suction cup holding one of the little wreaths lets go for lack of spit and comes crashing down.
Linda always says she’s not going to put as much stuff up this year..but, like lovin’ her man, once she gets started it’s awfully hard to stop. (It’s probably a good thing she doesn’t read these blogs)
I did try to help one year. 
Over her objections, I bought a string of bells that played a dozen Christmas songs. My plan was to string them around  the inside patio door and fill our house with the joyful sounds of the season.
It seemed easy enough until I discovered that most of the little electronically-operated clappers needed to be bent a bit so they’d strike the bell properly.
But the biggest problem was trying to keep the bells from touching the curtain which prevented them from having a peal.(sorry)
“We three kings of Orient (thunk).”
After doing much holiday cursing of my own, and to Linda’s great relief, I finally took the bells out to the garage and strung them up above my work bench where they could hang free.
Well, I thought. Our Christmas Eve guests will still be impressed when they arrive to the sound of familiar carols chiming away by the back door.
But what I didn’t realize is that the bell’s computer chip was never designed to operate in the cold and before long, “Silent Night” was being played at lightening speed with a lot of the important notes missing.
I figured out what might be wrong and went in to get something out of the house to fix it.
“What have you got in your hand?” Linda asked.
“Nothing.”
“Yes you do, what is it.”
“A hair dryer.”
“A hair dryer..what in the world do you need a hair dryer in the garage for?”
“Um, to warm up the bell controller.”
“Are you going to be running in and out of here all night shooting hot air onto those damn bells while your family is in here having Christmas?”
It was a rhetorical question..and I almost blurted out, “well, as hot as you are right now, maybe you could just stand out here and that would do the trick.”  But I didn’t.
 
Those Christmas bells are still hanging in the garage right where I strung them up years ago.
I sometimes plug them in on a 90 degree day in August just to get Linda’s attention.
They work great!

A Thanksgiving Wish(bone)

Posted: Wednesday, November 21, 2007 at 12:00 am
By: Doug Lund
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Besides gorging on fantastic food to the point of explosion, Thanksgiving Day in my youth was always exciting because after the feasting, there was a chance the adults would choose me to be one of  the kids to pull on the turkey wishbone and maybe..just maybe.. have the larger section snap off on my side meaning I’d be granted a wish.
Did it ever work?
I don’t know.  My opponents always managed to get a better hold on that greasy dang wishbone.
“Okay, guys, pull,” one of my uncles would yell to begin the competition.
Crack!
And there I’d stand with tears welling up in my little eyes holding a small sliver of bone..the final act of revenge from a turkey that a few minutes earlier had given me such pleasure at the dinner table.
Oh well, I don’t think there was a whole lot of truth to the wishbone thing anyway.
 I know for a fact that my cousin, Allen, a farm kid with the grip of a Texas politician, never got the million dollars he put in for.
My big brother, Denny, (even though he cheated to win by sliding his thumb up the wishbone) still had to make restitution for a hay stack he helped burn down with his buddies on Halloween a month earlier.
I don’t even remember what it was I wished for on the slight chance I would have won.
It doesn’t matter because most of my wishes have come true anyway and I have much to be thankful for.
Those who follow this blog know that last summer Linda’s mom (Mother Mary, I call her) suffered a seizure at home in Alcester. She was flown to Avera McKennan hospital where she remained unconscious in the intensive care unit for nearly a week.
Many of you joined with us lifting her up in prayer.
It was during one of those hospital prayer sessions, with the whole family at her bedside, that Mother Mary started to wake up. Soon after, her doctor began referring to her as “My Miracle Lady.”
Today, this 84 year old “Miracle Lady” is home baking three pies for Thanksgiving dinner and will lead the prayers of thanks herself when we all gather together on Thursday.
Who needs a wishbone when a little faith works wonders?
 
This is a blog and we love to have feedback..so if you have a story or a few words to share this Thanksgiving..feel free to click on the comments below.

Baking With Kim Ode

Posted: Monday, November 19, 2007 at 12:00 am
By: Doug Lund
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“Honey..do you care if I drive up to Brookings for the day?”
 
“What’s in Brookings?”
 
“Well, I’d like to spend some time with Kim Ode…a gal I’ve had a crush on for 25 years.”
 
“Oh, well go ahead then.”
 
That’s sort of how the conversation went between Linda and me last Friday.
I’m still trying to figure out if her quick approval demonstrates..      A) The strength of a 23 year marriage thats built on love and trust
B)     It would free-up her day to meet with an old boyfriend.
C)    She knows my gallivanting days are long gone and she would just welcome a few hours with me out of the house.
 
I’m betting its “C.”
 
The truth is, I hardly know Kim Ode but I’ve been in love with her writing since she worked at the Argus Leader back in the 80’s.
Occasionally, we’d be covering the same story or event and, while the Keloland photographer and I would be scrambling around lugging lights, a tri-pod and camera looking for the best shots, she would be off in a corner quietly observing and taking notes.
When our stories came out, we both had all the facts but hers had all the emotion and insight that I was looking for and missed.
I’ve always considered good writing… like that of Charles Kuralt, Garrison Keillor, Terry Woster and Kim Ode..to be an art form.Eric Sevareid once said, “ A well chosen word was worth a thousand pictures.”
 
Anyway, it wasn’t long before Kim’s talents were recognized by the Star Tribune in the Twin Cities. Before long she had her own column which appeared three times a week in that prestigious newspaper.
She had it made: a wonderful job, home, husband and children. What more could this shy Brandon area farm girl want?
To be a bread baker!Yup, after 11 years, she had kind of burned out on the column so she gave it up and began her quest to create the perfect loaf of bread.
No kidding, she actually built, all on her own, a 3000 pound oven..brick by brick.. in her back yard and uses it year round. She gives baking demonstrations (which is why she was in Brookings last week) and has even written a book entitled, “Baking with the St. Paul Bread Club.”
Kim Ode with a few treasures from her outdoor ovenIn the book, Kim Ode’s marvelous way with words takes us right into her mother’s farm kitchen on bread baking day.
Here’s an excerpt:
“There is nothing like a slice of hot, fresh bread, the steam still rising through a sheen of butter. Especially the heel of a loaf, she’d say, and with a child’s breathtaking selfishness, I would agree and eat the whole thing.”
 
Here’s another excerpt that describes how the act of bread making is good for your soul.
“Kneading, however, is where most of the therapy lies. If there were a study assessing the mental health of people who, on a regular basis, kneaded a shaggy boulder of dough into a bouncy, satiny orb, I’m convinced that they would set a new high standard for even-keeledness.”
To learn more about Kim Ode’s career as a writer and a baker click here.
 "Would anyone care for a freshly baked scone?"  Ahh, yeah!  
Now, I’m starving for something from the oven.
 
“Linda..?”

Yellowstone Fever

Posted: Thursday, November 15, 2007 at 12:00 am
By: Doug Lund
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Do you have trouble falling asleep at night?
I have the answer; my dad’s home movies of Yellowstone National Park.
Trouble is, I haven’t figured out how to market them to all you insomniacs out there yet.
 
We made that family trip to Yellowstone in the summer of 1956, I believe.
I just remember being car-sick most of the time from riding in the backseat sandwiched between my two brothers. It was especially bad when we arrived in geyser country.
Now, there’s a place where the devil has provided people with  a little preview of what Hell will be like; hot gasses boiling up from the bowels of the earth causing water to shoot high into the sky or just ooze to the surface creating little burps of slimy mud… like a thick spaghetti sauce bubbling on the stove.
The whole place stinks of Beelzebub too..a sulfuric stench not unlike rotten eggs.
 One of Yellowstone’s million or so mud pots..peww
It didn’t seem to bother anyone else in the family but me.  So, while they explored this steaming wonderland on foot, I stayed in our ’53 Mercury..miserable from a combination of heat, car sickness and that awful odor.
I remember being afraid to cough or sneeze for fear that I would erupt like Old Faithful from both ends.
Anyway, that’s my memory of Yellowstone National Park.
But my Dad loved it there and took reel after reel of film..much of it while he was driving the car.
For some reason, he didn’t trust my mom or any of us boys with the camera.
So a lot of the footage is shot through the windshield and shows his left hand gripping the steering wheel with a Camel cigarette between his fingers.
After we got home, it wasn’t long before Dad had the film developed and spliced together on one big brown reel.
 
My Mom was a great cook and she loved to have company come over for supper.
But those delicious meals usually came at a price; an after-dinner show that we should have called the “Wonders of Yellowstone” narrated by Harry Lund.
“You haven’t seen these have you?” he’d say to our well-fed guests. Before anyone could answer, though, the lights were shut off, the projector was switched on and..there we were…back at that hell hole he was so fond of.
 
But after a few minutes of watching Dad’s long rolling shots of mountain highways, trees and Yellowstone Falls, people’s heads around the living room would begin to bob backward and forward as if Mom had slipped a Mickey into their roast beef.
Children, including my normally hyperactive cousins, would crumple on the carpet and doze off out of boredom.
 
It never seemed to bother Dad, though. Showing those home movies always gave him great pleasure even without an attentive audience.
 
I think of my folks a lot during the month of November. Mom would have been 99 on the 13th, Dad 101 on the 27th.I would give anything to taste her fried chicken again and to sit in our darkened living room listening to the hum of that projector and hear Dad’s voice describing..one more time..the joys and dangers of feeding bears from right out of our car window and the unforgettable aroma of Yellowstone’s geysers.
I would stay awake this time.

A Million Here..A Million There

Posted: Tuesday, November 13, 2007 at 12:00 am
By: Doug Lund
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One of my favorite TV shows growing up in the fifties was “The Millionaire.”
It wasn’t a reality show like today but a half hour drama series that ran for six years.
Each week an eccentric billionaire, John Beresford Tipton, would give a total stranger a cashier’s check for a million dollars..tax free.
Tipton apparently got his jollies from seeing how sudden wealth affected folks.
Once in a while, people would have fun blowing their windfall but usually they wound up proving the old saying that money can’t buy happiness.
 
A million bucks back then was a lot of money.
It still is a lot of money as far as I’m concerned but it apparently won’t buy you much if you’re spending it on coliseums, arenas and football stadiums.
 
From a study released a week or so ago, we learned that it would cost 7 and a half million dollars to fix up the “aging” Sioux Falls Arena if it’s to continue as the city’s main sports and entertainment facility.
Now, seemingly out of nowhere, comes a brand new plan for a brand new coliseum big enough to play football in (with a regular 100 yard field I wonder?) and seat from 14 to 20 thousand people.
And, here’s the best part…a single donor would likely pay half the 100 to 150 million dollar tab.  (I have a hunch the final figure will be closer to 150 mil)
No official word yet on who that donor might be but, let’s see, John Beresford Tipton was a fictional TV character..so.. I’m just stabbing in the dark here but could it be T. Denny Sanford?
Maybe he read my blog last week and decided to step up! (Okay, that’s a stretch.)
He’s as rich as they come, though, and committed to giving away his fortune before taking the big dirt nap.
Kelby Krabbenhoft, the head of Sanford Health and Dana Dykhouse, head of Sanford’s bank are riding point on the coliseum plan so you might assume that they’re charging ahead on T.Denny’s no-limit credit card.
I’ve always felt that if projects like this are such a great idea, and necessary for a growing metropolis like ours, the private sector would, and should, step forward to foot most of the bill and reap much of the profits.
Sioux Falls Taxpayers have demonstrated time and again with their votes that they aren’t interested in bankrolling indoor soccer fields or aquatic centers with wave machines and tunnel slides or an event center downtown.
 
But who could argue with this plan..especially if a big chunk of the cost is being privately donated?
I’m all for it but the old reporter in me still has a few questions.
 
1)      Is it just a coincidence that the report on the Arena upgrades with its big price tag, comes out just days before this coliseum idea is announced?
2)      Why has the Krabbenhoft offer of 35 acres of free (Sanford Hospital) land for an event center closer to the interstates been abandoned in favor of this one which will mean the loss of Howard Wood Field?
3)      What would become of the current Arena? I’ve heard some ideas about refitting the interior and can only imagine the taxpayer outcry when that bill comes in.
4)      Has anyone done any serious investigation into whether or not there are actually very many big name entertainers still touring that would be willing to come here on a regular basis and be able to fill the place?
5)      And, please, Superintendent Homan, explain how replacing and repainting some 2 by 12 wooden seats at Howard Wood Field plus dealing with some concrete issues is going to cost six or seven Million dollars?  Or is there evidence that the grandstands aren’t safe and should be condemned?
 
If not, I’ll bet Menards or Home Depot will give you a deal on that much lumber and I wouldn’t be surprised if some local cement contractors could do a very nice patch-up job for a bit less.  
 
Also, according to Homan, several more million (reportedly 4 or 5) is going to be needed to re-do the Howard Wood Field “press box.” (Did someone tell her that we didn’t get the bid for the Vikings training camp and the national media won’t be here?)
Somebody really has to carefully explain how replacing that press box is going to cost as much as five of the fanciest homes off of South Minnesota Avenue. Maybe that includes granite counter tops and a hot tub.
Which is my point.
If these dollar figures are exaggerated to dramatize the need for a big new event center.. taxpayers..like before..will go to the polls and put the kibosh on the whole thing.

Veterans Day 11-11-07

Posted: Friday, November 9, 2007 at 12:00 am
By: Doug Lund
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Thank you!

History Anyone?

Posted: Wednesday, November 7, 2007 at 12:00 am
By: Doug Lund
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I love going to cemeteries. Not for funerals but just to hang out.
On a nice summer day I can spend hours in the peace and quiet of a cemetery walking amongst the tombstones, especially the real old ones, reading the names and dates trying to figure out the stories of those who lie a few feet below.
 
When my daughters were growing up and we’d go for a ride I’d often stop at a graveyard somewhere to explore.
At first I’m sure they thought ol’ dad was losin’ it but after a while they, too, kind of got into the "spirit" of things and, like me, learned to appreciate the underground history lessons there.
 
HAROLD A.JAMISON         H.A. “BUD” JAMISON      PVT. ANDREW JAMISON
B-1880  D-1918                      B-1914  D- 1918                 B-1900  D-1918
 
We might conclude that a father has lost his 4 year old namesake..probably to the terrible flu epidemic of 1918.  Then his 18 year old son is killed overseas during World War I.
Could Harold, in his grief, have taken his own life or did the flu claim him too?
That’s part of the cemetery experience…wondering and imagining.
 
One of my first reports for Keloland News was about a former pioneer cemetery west of Marion Road in Sioux Falls that was going to be developed for housing even though some county historians insisted that people were still buried there. I wonder if anyone now living in that neighborhood has experienced the movie Poltergeist in real life.
 
Devil’s Gulch, GarretsonI’ve done many stories on the saga of Jesse James who may..or may not..have jumped his horse across the Devil’s Gulch at Garretson while on the run from the Northfield, Minnesota bank job. I even got a tour of the nearby cave where he allegedly holed up for a night.
 
I’ve always been fascinated by pioneer history like Ole Rolvaag wrote about in “Giants in the Earth” or Laura Ingalls Wilder in her “Little House” series of books.
I’ve done reports from the “Little Town on the Prairie” in DeSmet many times.
The most recent was about the five cottonwood trees that Pa Ingalls planted in 1880. They’re still there!
Somehow, they’ve managed to survive tornadoes, lightning, prairie fires and souvenir hunters for an amazing 127 years.
 Pa’s cottonwoods still survive on the Ingalls’ homestead
I loved visiting with Black Hills photographer, Paul Horsted, about his book in which he finds the exact location of old photographs and shows the same area as it appears today.
The comparisons are really interesting..
 
I had great fun interviewing a little old lady who just happened to be a teller at Security National Bank in 1934 when it was robbed by the John Dillinger gang.
During the heist, trigger-happy Baby Face Nelson opened fire with his machine gun, injuring the Sioux Falls police chief.
Public enemy #1 John DillingerAfter relieving the bank of $49,500,  Dillenger grabbed the teller and a few other hostages..then sped away in a big stolen car with gang members on the running boards..guns blazing away.Nobody died during the hold-up but there was a lot of lead flying through the air that day.
You can still see bullet holes in the old Sioux Falls bank.
After a blog I did last summer about the Perry Nature Area..which used to be the town of East Sioux Falls, I heard from Eric Renshaw who is obviously just as interested in stuff like that as I am…even more so.
He has put together a wonderful web site filled with pictures and history about Sioux Falls.
There are stories and images of theaters, breweries, trolleys, motels, hotels and other city landmarks.
The beauty of the old photos he has posted is that with a click most can be enlarged to reveal incredible detail unseen before without a magnifying glass.
To check it out for yourself,  click here.
 
Now, Linda says “I’m” going to be history if I don’t get off this computer and get some real work done.
 

Dollars and Common Sense

Posted: Sunday, November 4, 2007 at 12:00 am
By: Doug Lund
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I’ve learned a couple things during my first year of retirement.
 
1)      Playing a lot of golf has not made me a better golfer.
2)      Living on a fixed income is a pain in the place where I sit down.
 
The comment Linda and I always used to make when faced with an unexpected expense or costly purchase was, “Well, we’ll just have to stay on the job and make more.”
 
Now, we’re faced with the reality of living on a tighter budget because we “aren’t” going to make more.
I’m not complaining. It was our choice. But if I’ve got to be careful with how I spend my money, I don’t think it’s too much to ask that those who collect and spend my “tax” dollars..at all levels of government..use some common sense too.
 
We all knew things would be different after 9-11 and I was more than willing to help foot the bill to fight terrorism anywhere around the world.
But here we are six years later and despite our manpower and technology; the head terrorist  responsible for the attacks on America is still out there making home movies thumbing his nose at us and warning of more attacks to come.
Meantime, we were led into…and are now bogged down in…yet another war with no clear objective and no exit strategy.
A war that even conservative estimates place at costing over a TRILLION dollars when all is said and done…not to mention the immeasurable cost in human life.
 
A TRILLION dollars..a thousand Billion! 
Think of the ways we could have spent that money.
A serious health care program.
Some serious funding into cancer research.
Some serious guarantees that Social Security money will not dry up.
Some serious attention to alternative fuels to offset foreign oil prices which have jumped from 30 to 90 dollars a barrel since the Iraq war began.
 
How about a billion dollar bounty on bin Laden?
For that kind of dough, even the most zealot Muslim just might be persuaded to point towards the correct cave so we could root-out that scumbag .
 
On the homefront..heck, just half a billion dollars would pay for the Lewis and Clark Pipeline Project which is getting more expensive with every construction bid that comes in.
We could probably get a federal grant to build a couple streets by tunneling under both country clubs so those who live on the west side of Sioux Falls could finally have their east\west corridor and cut three minutes from their drive to and from work.
Maybe we could get the feds to help bankroll the cost of extending the interstate highways through downtown Sioux Falls. Then perhaps traffic would no longer be an issue in the debate over a huge new events center which we apparently must have if we’re ever to get Elton John to come back. And even though results of an  interestingly-timed study show the current arena to be structurally sound, it is in desperate need of  seven and a half million dollars worth of improvements. Maybe since everyone thinks the arena is so old we could get it on the National Historic register and help pay for things like a private shower for the occasional female referee.. plasma televisions and bar service for those who choose to enjoy games from the comfort of their private skyboxes and to upgrade ice making equipment that apparently taxpayers have to pay for so the Stampede can skate.
I know I can’t afford all this stuff  so unless T-Denny can be convinced to pony up more cash, we’re just going to have to get out of Iraq.