Archive for October 2010

More Road Trippin’

Posted: Wednesday, October 27, 2010 at 2:00 pm
By: Doug Lund
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“How would you guys like to go on a little road trip?” our friend, Joanie, said when she called. “Sure, where to?”  “Well, we thought it might be fun to check out the old South Dakota School for the Blind campus in Gary.”   “The what..where?” I said.  “Yeah, the place has been restored and turned into a hotel resort with a lake and everything, I hear it’s really neat.”

So that’s how we came to be headed North a couple weeks ago; taking the back roads through Pipestone and Canby, Minnesota through canyons of wind turbines before turning west to the tiny town of Gary just across the South Dakota border. More about that in a minute. First, a refresher course on how the four of us travel. It takes us forever to get to a destination because we’ll stop to check out just about anything from a quaint small town watering hole to an abandoned farm house along side the road. This time we stumbled upon a real doozy.

We spotted this spooky looking house just off highway 75 somewhere between Lake Benton and Canby

We spotted this spooky looking house just off highway 75 somewhere between Lake Benton and Canby

Had it been dark I'd never have left the car but since it was a sunny warm day, the place wasn't quite so frightening

Had it been dark I'd never have left the car but since it was a sunny warm day, the place wasn't quite so frightening

All we could talk about is who might have once lived here and how long ago. Its sad to think about families that had once gathered inside for birthday, Christmas and Thanksgiving celebrations. You could almost hear the voices.

All we could talk about is who might have lived here and how long ago. Its sad to think about the families that had once gathered inside for birthday, Christmas and Thanksgiving celebrations. You could almost hear the voices.

Closer inspection revealed why there was a noticible stench coming from the place. Someone had decided that the structure, once somebody's home, would make an acceptable place to store grain. It wasn't.

Closer inspection revealed why there was a noticible stench coming from the place. Someone had decided that the structure would make a suitable spot to store grain. It wasn't.

After a half hour or so we left with more questions than answers about the old place which is slowly being devoured by a tree that wasnt there when the people left long ago.

After a half hour or so we left with more questions than answers about the old place which is slowly being devoured by a tree that wasnt there when the last owners left long ago.

 The School for the blind at Gary was established in 1900 and grew to a sizeable self sustaining live-on campus over the next several decades before folding up and moving to Aberdeen in the early 60’s.

buffalo ridge history use

 The old school buildings and dormitories have been sitting vacant and vulnerable to the elements and vandals ever since.  Some folks would swear that the buildings and underground tunnels that connected them were haunted and most people wouldn’t go near the place except on a dare.

Well, that didn’t scare local entrepreneur, Joe Kolbach..who made a tidy sum in the wind turbine business and decided to invest a sizeable chunk of it in renovating the whole area to its former glory.  Less than a year after purchasing the campus and to nearly everyone’s amazement, Kolbach has completed phase one and transformed a decaying eyesore into the magnificent Buffalo Ridge Resort and Business Center.

South Dakota Magazine photos

South Dakota Magazine photos

 Two buildings that once served as dormitories have become an upscale hotel..with a lounge, ballrooms and meeting facilities. He has also brought back Lake Elsie, a scenic little pond that was filled with dirt and plowed over years ago. It’s located next to a crossing bridge, a lovely little waterfall, and beautiful oak trees that shelter several camp sites. People we talked to absolutely love it and just can believe how quickly Kolbach was able to get it done. To check it out for yourself, click here.

Who knows where we’ll be heading next time. I hear there’s a place called Danton, Minnesota that’s home to the world’s biggest ball of twine. It’s either that or the outhouse museum in Gregory. We’re easily entertained.

Trust Me, I’m A Meteorologist

Posted: Thursday, October 21, 2010 at 11:46 am
By: Doug Lund
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Weather forecasting is not an exact science, but it’s getting pretty dang close.

When I started in television, way back in the dark ages, forecasts were based, primarily, on barometric pressure readings. Our radar consisted of a black and white camera we had hooked up to the radar screen out at the National Weather Service. A dark grey splotch indicated rain..or hail..or moisture of some kind in the air. Keloland has always considered the weather to be important but, the only real requirement for being a weather man was a quick course in understanding how to read the weather wire..which is about all the information any broadcaster had to go on.

Just for fun, though, we used to regularly consult with Leo Hartig’s uncle; a crusty colorful an old guy named Tabbert, I think, who claimed to possess powers of prognosticating the weather with a reasonable amount of accuracy.  Anyway, we’d prop him up before the camera at the beginning of the season to find out what kind of summer or winter lay ahead.  That would never happen today. We take our weather forecasting VERY seriously.

Leo Hartig Weatherman in the 60's. Unlike his uncle, Leo used the latest scientific information for his forecasts.

Leo Hartig Weatherman in the 60's. Unlike his uncle, Leo used the latest scientific information for his forecasts.

 What was once a simple weather set consisting of a map on which you wrote numbers and symbols with a grease pen, has transformed into “WEATHER CENTRAL” which takes up a third of the Keloland studio and contains hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of sophisticated radars and computer equipment connected to similar systems from all over the country and the world. Our four meteorologists not only have to be skilled communicators, but “scientists” as well in order to decipher, analyze and relay all the information available to them. I have to laugh when I hear some people claim that “Those TV weather guys rarely get it right.” The fact is, these days, they rarely get it wrong!  

I say all this because I’ve been checking the local forecast for next week and it appears my golf season is about to come to an end for another year. I’m really going to miss not only the game, but the great guys that play in our group and just being out on that beautiful piece of ground tucked into the Brandon Valley where I’ve spent so many memorable hours over the last thirty years.

The view from the clubhouse patio is one of the lovliest anywhere.

The view from the clubhouse patio is one of the lovliest anywhere.

  2010 has  been a rough go for most area golf courses, including and especially my home course at Brandon, mainly due to weather;  lots of rainy stormy days have kept golfers away. Because of all the rain, Brandon was hit by a grass-eating fungus in August that gobbled away at the  lush beautiful fairways. Hopes of fixing the problem with a major re-seeding were washed away last month when a torrential downpour caused normally tranquil Split Rock Creek to erupt out of its banks to unheard of high levels. There have been occasions when a couple holes would get flooded but this time the entire course was under water.

Brandon Golf Course underwater in September

Brandon Golf Course underwater in September

 Within a few days though, little Split Rock Creek had to face the reality that its designation as a mighty torrent was only temporary and it quickly and quietly retreated back to its trough. It did leave behind considerable amounts of silt which the remaining grass seedlings have taken a shine to. At least, the fairways are looking the best they have in weeks.

I had my best game of the year when we played on Tuesday so I’m anxious for a shot at one more round to close out the season on Friday. Next week it’s supposed to be rainy and colder. But then, there’s a chance those weather guys don’t have it right. Or is there?

A Hair Raising Tale

Posted: Friday, October 15, 2010 at 12:47 pm
By: Doug Lund
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I love writing this blog..but sometimes, I can’t come up with one blasted idea that justifies an entire column. Oh, I could rattle on about the upcoming election and explain why I’m reluctantly going to leave the U.S. House race on the ballot blank. But anyone who, like me, gags every time another negative ad from either candidate comes on TV.. doesn’t need an explanation.   I could also rehash such hot topics as event centers, smoking bans and Brett Favre…but after careful consideration, I’ve come up with a riveting subject: HAIR.  I really don’t like mine very much.

Now, I realize I’m not going to get a lot of sympathy from those of you who’d give your eye teeth to have a full head of hair again. But, trust me, it’s not so great going through life as Moe Howard’s son either.

Best as I can figure I’ve had about 700 haircuts in my lifetime from only a half dozen different barbers. The first was George Woodard. He cut my dad’s hair so when I came of age (around three) that’s where I went too. I remember climbing up and sitting on a board that George had placed across the arms of the barber chair so my little head would be at grown-up level. George wore one of those noisy hearing aids with a long cord that led from his right ear to a battery box the size of a deck of cards which he kept in his white shirt pocket right next to the pack of Camels. He liked to tease me about needing a shave and then world  give me a whisker rub with his weathered old cheek against mine  which, as I think about it now, kind of creeps me out. Anyway, my dad believed that if you spend good money for a haircut people better, by god, .notice that you got one..and George was only too happy to accommodate.. trimming me right down to the nubbins with just enough left in front to be stood up straight with the help of a bit of butch wax.  I hated short haircuts..still do. They made my big ears look even more enormous..like a 49 Ford with the front doors open.

I eventually convinced my mom to let me go to the other barber in town, Helmer Dahl. Helmer was a much younger guy who treated kids like adults and understood that they were after more of a look like James Dean or Elvis than Mahatma Gandhi.  He would actually ASK what style you wanted and we’d point to one of the pictures he had posted on the shop wall.

haircut 2

Helmer Dahl on the left.

Helmer Dahl on the left.

I remember when one of Doctor Peeke’s sons told Helmer he wanted a Mohawk. There wasn’t any picture on the wall for that but Helmer said okay and began buzzing away until all that was left was a windrow of hair down the middle from the front of his head to the back of his neck. I’m not sure if Doc’s son had parental approval for this radical cut or if Helmer caught hell for obliging but, if the desired effect was to get attention at school, it was mission accomplished. Helmer also kept a nice variety of comic books to read while waiting your turn in the chair. Sure beat the heck out of “Field and Stream” or “Today’s Farmer” magazines offered over at Woodard’s.  Sometimes my friends and I would go into Dahl’s Barber Shop just to read the latest edition of “Archie” or “Lil Lotta” even if we didn’t need a haircut. He never seemed to mind our loitering..in fact, long after I’d graduated from high school and moved away, I’d still make it a point, whenever I came home, to stop by Helmer’s for a trim or just to chat. He was a good guy.

For the last 30 years or so, I’ve been going to Steve Klooster, owner of Headhunters on Southeastern Drive. I don’t doubt that he’s had to take a lot of heat for being barber to that TV guy because so many people think I wear a rug. That probably doesn’t speak well for his styling skills. But it’s not his fault. He’s tried, over the years, to get me to go for a different look..even gave me a permanent once to put some curl into my thick stubborn coiff..but it sprung right back to straightness within 24 hours. Steve has finally had to admit that I have “heinie” hair; which is to say it grows forward like a field of sunflowers leaning into the sun.  As a boy I fought my follicle fate by using great gobs of Brylcreem to overpower the natural grain of my hair by weighting it down with grease. Later our  bathroom would be filled with a giant cloud of Aqua Net hairspray which I bought  by the case. It stunk to high heaven, but was effective in gluing my rebellious hair into submission. When it was determined that I might be solely responsible for depleting the ozone layer, I switched to a pump spray, Lady Clairol extra hold, to get the job done.

But I’m tired of fighting it..so on my last visit, I told Steve the barber to go ahead and cut it all off. I’ve said that before but this time he knew I meant business so for the next half hour he was like Edward Scissorhands. When the shearing ceased, I looked at myself in the mirror sitting there in a circle of grey fluff like I’d sneezed in a patch of dandelions that had gone to seed.  Oh, I still have hair left but now it sticks straight up in front just the way  George Woodard used to do it.

Oh, I know you say it doesn't look much different but I lost a pound during the cut. Just got back from the eye doctor which explains the yellow goo below them.

Oh, I know you say it doesn't look much different but I lost a pound during the cut. Just got back from the eye doctor which explains the yellow goo below them.

Hmmmm, I wonder. “Linda..we don’t happen to have any Butch Wax in the house do we?”

Stevie

Posted: Monday, October 11, 2010 at 10:57 am
By: Doug Lund
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I hate when the phone rings after 11 pm. I know it’s either a wrong number or bad news.

When Linda picked up at midnight last week, it was clear this wasn’t a wrong number.

“Oh no, Steve..oh, no…” and she hands the phone to me. That’s when I first learned from my longtime Keloland colleague and friend, Steve Hemmingsen, that he had suffered the most personal devastating loss any parent can experience; the death of a child.

stevie In this case, his only son and namesake, Stevie, who, at the age of  36, suffering from secretive but severe bouts of depression, took his own life.

At his memorial service on Sunday, hundreds of family members and friends turned out to show their support and sympathy for Steve, Betty and Stevie’s sister Lois…knowing full well that is all we can do. There is nothing anyone can say to ease the agony at such a time although the words of Monsignor James Doyle and Fr. Chuck Cimpl, along with the beautiful singing of Shawn Cable, were reassuring and helped express the sorrow and compassion we all feel for the family.

At the close of the service, Steve rose to offer a beautifully crafted eulogy to his son who not only shared his name but other characteristics..both physical and mental. In Steve’s words, “He was me.”   In a voice as steady as possible under the circumstances, Steve talked about all the good times; the things that Stevie loved..and the family and friends who loved and thought the world of Stevie. But he also shared how no one was aware of the extent to which the demons of depression had crept into his son’s psyche. He masked them well.    In a note Stevie left behind, he said no one is to blame for this; he only wanted peace.  I pray that he has found that peace and, just as importantly, that those left to mourn will receive an outpouring of compassion and friendship from all of you who follow our writings here as we can only imagine what the Hemmingsen family is now going through.

P.S. this is Steve’s e-mail address: Anchor1@itctel.com

Randy And Rod

Posted: Wednesday, October 6, 2010 at 10:34 am
By: Doug Lund
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Pigs are flying around in the Metrodome.

Icicles are dangling off Satan’s nose because hell has frozen over.

Randy Moss is a Minnesota Viking again.

For some crazy reason, the New England Patriots have traded the premier but moody and self-serving wide receiver to the team where he got his start and became a superstar 12 years ago. Minnesota fans adored Moss who only needed to be in the vicinity of a pass thrown his way to leap up and catch it..often in spectacular fashion. But after several stellar seasons, Moss figured he wasn’t getting enough action on the field and started to slack off.  

Vikings fans give Randy a pass about quitting on them in the past.

Vikings fans give Randy a pass about quitting on them in the past.

When he walked from the field to the dressing room before one losing game was even over, It was the last straw. Moss was sent packing to Oakland with a good riddance from fans who had grown tired of his sulky attitude. Moss found new life when he was traded to the Patriots and became a favorite target of quarterback Tom Brady.  Earlier this year, though, Moss..ever the team player—not, gave notice that he probably wouldn’t be a Patriot next year.

Well, now, the desperate Vikings have a new\old target for Brett Favre to launch long balls to. Will Randy feel like jumping up to catch them? I guess we’ll find out soon enough.

All this Moss business has overshadowed the fact that Major League Baseball is in the post season and the Minnesota Twins are back in the hunt for another World Series. Oh, yeah..they’ve got to get passed the Yankees.

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

I got a call last week from an old friend and fellow musician, Rod Anderson, who lives in Nashville where his guitar playing skills are regularly put to use on stage and in the recording studio. He was being inducted into the South Dakota Country Music Hall of Fame and wondered if I’d join him on stage at the VFW last Sunday to sing a song. Rod played with lots of Midwest bands during the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s performing both rock and roll and country music.

Rod Anderson performs with his old band, The Apostles, last April at the SD Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony. Over the weekend he was inducted into the S.D "Country" music hall of fame.
Rod Anderson performs with his old band, The Apostles, last April at the SD Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony. Over the weekend he was inducted into the S.D “Country” music hall of fame.

After the ceremony, Rod’s  brother in law, Darrell “Boomer” Hoiland..a bass player and singer who was inducted last year, asked me about getting together at his house in Brandon on Monday to do some jamming and reminiscing. Boomer and I also go way back having played in several bands together.

Darrell "Boomer" Hoiland 2009 inductee into SD Country Music hall of fame.
Darrell “Boomer” Hoiland 2009 inductee into SD Country Music hall of fame.

rod anderson I haven’t sat down to a set of drums in a very long time but once Rod and Boomer started to play it all came back and we jammed and talked and laughed late into the night. Okay, by late I mean 11:30 but still.   

I’ve always admired Rod..not only for his skills as a musician but for his wonderful personality and the way he carries himself as a man.

If ever there was someone with powerful reasons to be bitter and angry it would be Rod. During the war in Vietnam he received injuries that cost him his sight. To make matters worse, those injuries were caused by friendly fire. But Rod, with the help of his wife, Bonnie, chose not to be bitter about the lousy hand he was dealt and, instead, has found joy, peace and success through his relentless pursuit of perfection in his music.

Randy Moss could learn a lesson or two about never giving up from a guy like Rod.