Archive for December 2010

Go Big Red

Posted: Tuesday, December 28, 2010 at 8:49 pm
By: Doug Lund
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And ‘Poof”, just like that Christmas is over and one by one our kids and grandkids give hugs and “I love you’s” then pile into their respective vehicles or board an airplane and take off for home.  Linda and I feel a little like Dorothy; frantically caught up in this huge tornado and then suddenly land with a thud in Oz where all is deathly quiet. It’s true that we no longer have to fret about running out of food or hot water. But also gone is the joy of a child in the house again who dazzles us with amazing artwork for the refrigerator door and who doesn’t mind you watching  “Sponge Bob Square Pants” with her in the mornings over a bowl of Honey Nut Cheerios.

 

Grandaughter Zoey packed and ready. Peace!

Grandaughter Zoey packed and ready. Peace!

 

Ella's turn to play Santa

Ella's turn to play Santa

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Linda and I will be departing ourselves soon…pointing Big Red southwest for the annual gathering of Midwest snowbirds in Arizona. Our big old red Lincoln now has 140 thousand miles but still feels pretty frisky; tugging at her leash anxious to get rollin’.  We don’t nest in the desert for as long as some others because our nest egg is a scrambled mess compared to theirs. Besides, the guilt of staying in the warm January sunshine for longer than a month while folks back home are bringing in their brass monkeys, would be nearly too much to bear.

Speaking of January, I suppose it’s time for making resolutions if you’re in to that sort of thing.  I keep resolving to diet and exercise then have to resolve not to slit my wrists for failing to keep my resolution. All I can say about that in 2011 is I will continue looking for ways to have there be less of me at the beginning of 2012. After that it won’t matter anyway if you believe those doomsday predictions based on some Mayan calendar.

Sorry, but I’m making this short because Linda is threatening to have me pack my own suitcase if I don’t hurry up and lay out the clothes I want to take along. Plus, I’ve got to pay bills, put some polish on my good shoes and clean and organize my golf equipment..heh, heh. 

As usual, I’ll post a few words and pictures from along the way.

Just a couple other notes; I had lunch with an old pal today at the Falls Park restaurant. I’d been in the building but never to eat. What a pleasant surprise. The place was busy and the food fantastic. While there, a guy I didn’t know stopped over to wish me a Happy New Year and say he really enjoys reading my blogs.  I can’t tell you how much I appreciate those of you who check in here regularly. Thank you so very much! Linda and I wish you peace, prosperity and best wishes in the New Year.

A Holly Jolly Christmas

Posted: Friday, December 24, 2010 at 11:10 am
By: Doug Lund
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I hope you can handle one more story about Eureka, South Dakota’s Holly Hoffman, who survived the popular CBS reality show, “Survivor” finishing fourth out of all the contestants vying for a million dollar top prize.  Holly has since been pretty busy giving interviews and making personal appearances..including one at the Pizza Ranch in Hartford on Thursday which is where our paths crossed. 

Survivor star, Holly Hoffman, greets fans at Hartford Pizza Ranch

Survivor star, Holly Hoffman, greets fans at Hartford Pizza Ranch

She was there with her husband, State Representative, Charles Hoffman, along with Governor-elect, Dennis Daugaard signing autographs and picture-posing to raise money for the West Central D.A.R.E. program.  Thanks to the efforts my of old pal, Joe Prostrollo, the event also helped raise a few dollars for West Central Senior, Tucker Smith..our grandson.

On December 13th, Tucker was admitted to Avera with severe pain. A body scan revealed numerous dangerous blood clots that required immediate attention. Tucker spent several days in ICU and underwent three surgical procedures to remove the clots and have stents inserted in his vulnerable veins.

Tucker Smith manages a smile with his sister Tara in ICU

Tucker Smith manages a smile with his sister Tara in ICU

Everything went well but doctors had some bad news; Tucker, who has been an outstanding member of the West Central Trojans football team and a candidate for college scholarships, learned that he won’t be able to play football ever again; devastating news for a young man with such talent and passion for the game. But, as is so typical of Tucker, he has handled this disappointment with class and an optimistic attitude that other doors will open.

tucker tuesday

Just before he was released from the hospital, his friends and classmates at West Central held a benefit called Tucker Tuesday in which a sizeable sum was raised to ease the sting of a big hospital bill. Good kids!

Tucker WAS able to be at the Pizza Ranch for Holly’s appearance and was presented a Charley Brown-type Christmas tree bearing branches filled with cash. Thanks, Joe.

Holly and Tucker and me..oh my.

Holly and Tucker and me..oh my.

As for seeing and visiting with Holly in person; well, not only is she drop-dead gorgeous (A fact Linda wishes I’d stop repeating every five minutes)  but possesses that wonderful quality of “South Dakota niceness” genuinely delighted to visit with folks and share her amazing Nicaraguan survival story.

Now it’s time to dwell for a spell on another story that’s as old as Christmas itself, about the arrival of a child who was born to die so we might live. We can never repay a gift like that only rejoice and be glad in it.

Merry Christmas to you all!

Aunt Leila..For The Record

Posted: Monday, December 20, 2010 at 7:50 pm
By: Doug Lund
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It’s real common this time of year for people to act like frosty the snowman and go thumpity, thump, thumping down memory lane ad nauseum. So, here I go too.

Aunt Leila. That's mom behind her.

Aunt Leila. That's mom behind her.

I liked all of my aunts but my very favorite was  dad’s older sister, Leila. She was married in 1924 and widowed in 1944. By the time I was born, her only son was already grown and gone so she really fawned over my brothers and me. She would often take me to Brookings shopping which was followed by a hamburger at Nick’s and then a movie at the College Theater. It was always fun spending time with Leila at her house where she allowed me to watch as she worked her magic around the kitchen baking cakes and pies or making a special meal just for the two of us. Over a stick of Beemen’s Pepsin Gum..which she always had in her purse..we’d talk about all kinds of things including our Scandinavian heritage and what Dad was like when he was my age. Leila was one of the first in town to have a TV set. It’s where I first saw “I Love Lucy”, “You Bet Your Life” with Groucho Marx and professional wrestling. She would laugh until the tears rolled watching those bouts believing for all the world they were legit and finding it hysterical each time Gorgeous George or the rasslin’  midgets entered the ring.

Leila also had a beautiful cabinet phonograph in her living room. It was filled with 78 rpm  records that I would play over and over until they became seared into my mind. Here are some favorites: 

Yogi Yorgesseson, who sang novelty songs in a Norwegian brogue that didn’t sound all that much different from my uncles. I still laugh out loud when I hear “I yust go nuts at Christmas” or “Who hid the halibut on the poop (pewwp)deck?”

leila records yogi

 “Little Toot” was not about a child with gas..but a tiny tugboat who kept getting into trouble as he putt, putt putted around the ship yard. The recurring theme was “Won’t you ever grow up Little Toot?” Then one day when an emergency arose, Toot saved the day and became the pride and joy of his tug boat parents.

leila records toot

 “Flick the Fire Engine” (see Little Toot”)

 leila records flick

“Bugs Bunny and the Tortoise” The popular Warner Brothers characters in a remake of the famous Tortoise and the Hare fable. This is the only one of Leila’s records that I still have but can’t listen to  because I don’t have a phonograph that plays 78’s.

leila records bugs bunny

 “The Lone Ranger” explained how the famous masked man came to be and how he and Tonto rounded up and captured the feared Butch Cavendish gang.

leila records lone ranger

“Song of the South” with Uncle Remus narrating stories like Brer Rabbit and the Tar Baby. It scared the snot out of me as a kid for some reason..and wouldn’t be very politically correct today.

leila records tar baby

 When I grew up and started a family of my own, Aunt Leila simply extended her love for children to the next generation; entertaining and spoiling my two daughters even more than me if that’s possible.  When my marriage broke up, Aunt Leila offered to come to Sioux Falls and live with the girls and me. She stayed for a year and really helped us through a rough patch.  I wish that you all could have an Aunt Leila in your lives whose love is unconditional and who keeps a supply of special records tucked away just for you.

Christmas time at Aunt Leila's. Me on left, brother Tommy center and friend Dixon on right. Far right is the cabinet phonograph which we'd lay in front of for hours listening to those records.

Christmas time at Aunt Leila's. Me on left, brother Tommy center and friend Dixon on right. Far right is the cabinet phonograph which we'd lay in front of for hours listening to those records.

Dan’s Bash For Cash

Posted: Tuesday, December 14, 2010 at 4:20 pm
By: Doug Lund
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dan christophersonI’ve known quite a few “characters” in my life but none could match the outrageous, funny, tough, sentimental, kind-hearted personality of my friend, Dan Christopherson who died nearly 4 years ago when that same big heart of his gave out at just 53.

Dan was a huge guy. He must have stood 6’4”.  When I first met him he was pretty heavy too but after suffering a heart attack and being diagnosed with diabetes, he made up his mind to lose weight and did.  Dan loved radio and had a perfect voice for it..deep and booming. Unfortunately for him, Dan wasn’t the least bit hesitant about using that voice to say whatever was on his mind over the air. Listeners, for the most part, loved it but  program directors not so much .. which meant Dan kept bouncing from one station to another throughout his broadcasting career. He took all his terminations in stride..even joked about them… knowing another job would turn up.  He also joked about his prosthetic leg after diabetes forced the amputation of his real one.  He once said to me, “Doug, this will be great if I ever join Alcoholics Anonymous because I’ll only have to complete a “six” step program. Dan loved magic and would perform tricks anywhere anytime for any one. He was good at it too. He was also the perfect choice as stadium announcer for the Sioux Falls Canaries baseball team. And, if you ever needed someone to help with a fundraiser, well, Dan was your man.

dan's daughterThen in the spring of 2005.. three days after walking his lovely daughter, Megan, down the aisle at her wedding, she was killed in a Colorado car crash.  As unimaginably difficult  as it would be to function following such a tragedy, Dan decided to put the best possible spin on it and, along with his wife, Dawn, started the “Megan Fund for Children’s Books” in memory of their daughter; a second grade school teacher who loved reading. In collaboration with Barnes and Noble, The Megan Fund Book Fair was created in which a percentage of store sales for one day each year would be donated to the fund.  It’s allowed them to purchase thousands of books and distribute them to classrooms all over the area.

in 2007, when a friend needed a bone marrow transplant, Dan organized a “Bash for Cash” at the El Riad Shrine. A fun night filled with music and frivolity.  It was a huge success and a big help toward his friend getting a transplant and beating his cancer.

Dan Christopherson wasn’t so lucky. Two weeks after the event, his finicky heart finally stopped beating. But even though he’s gone, the Bash lives on as a tribute to Dan and his sense of giving.

It will take place February 4th, at the Shrine Mosque downtown Sioux Falls and feature a night of nostalgia and rock and roll; Arlie’s All Stars, The Apostles and the Roarin’ Red Dogs will all appear on stage. Tickets are 20 dollars with all proceeds going to a 41 year old woman, Leigh Jerzak, who is in need of a bone marrow transplant.

Tickets will be available January 3rd. For ticket information call or stop by The El Riad Shrine office, 510 South Phillips, Sioux Falls, SD 57104 (605)336-1117. 

Ah, Dan..I wish you were here to emcee the event and work your magic. But then again, I’ve seen you do some pretty spectacular tricks before. Got one more up your sleeve? I’ll be checking behind the curtain and listening for that familiar thundering voice just in case.

X Marks The Spot

Posted: Thursday, December 9, 2010 at 1:30 pm
By: Doug Lund
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Oh, my gosh..two weeks ‘till Xmas.

 Okay now right there I’ve alienated many of you for daring to use the letter X to replace Christ in the word Christmas. If you really want to sap the peace-on-earth spirit right out of the season for some people, just send them a card with the word Xmas on it.

christmas xmas

When in doubt about the validity of most any claim, I usually consult with the website, Snopes.com which does extensive research to sort out truth from fiction. Here’s what Snopes has to say about Xmas.

  The abbreviation of ‘Xmas’ for ‘Christmas’ is neither modern nor disrespectful. The notion that it is a new and vulgar representation of the word ‘Christmas’ seems to stem from the erroneous belief that the letter “X” is used to stand for the word “Christ”because of its resemblance to across, or that the abbreviation was deliberately concocted to take the “Christ”out of Christmas ” actually, this usage is nearly as old as Christianity itself, and its origins lie in the fact that the first letter in the Greek word for ‘Christ’ is ‘chi,’ and the Greek letter ‘chi’ is represented by a symbol similar to the letter ‘X’ in the modern Roman alphabet. Hence ‘Xmas’ is indeed perfectly legitimate abbreviation for the word ‘Christmas’ (just as ‘Xian’ is also sometimes used as abbreviation of the word ‘Christian’).

But you know what? Even though the abbreviation may not have been created specifically for the purpose of demeaning Christ, the fact that so many people believe it does should be enough for us to avoid any confrontations on the matter and simply not to use it. Are we that pressed for time that we can’t write out or type five extra letters?

My friend, John Mogen, founder and leader of the Mogen’s Heroes band, in which I played for about 15 years,  feels so strongly about the Xmas thing that he wrote a song about it and insisted we play it  during the holiday season no matter if we were working a bar or at a bar mitzvah . The lyrics include these lines: “The next time you forget what we’re celebratin’ give the son of God a higher ratin’.  God never had a son whose name was X.” I used to cringe a little each time he’d call up that song even if there was a dance floor full of people who were expecting Crocodile Rock  or another Elvis tune. But, it never bothered him. In fact it’s still in his repertoire every Xma…er, I mean, “Christmas” season. And I say good on ya John.

Christmas window

I finally pulled myself away from the computer the other day long enough to string up a few Christmas lights on our decks; a far cry from when I used to risk life and limb standing high on a flimsy ladder trying to hang icicle lights around the edge of our entire roof only to have strands of them burn out or flop up on top of the roof every time the wind blew.   One year  I was doing my delicate balancing act on the top rung when I leaned back a bit too far and suddenly the aluminum ladder gave way. I remember seeing visions of dead relatives reaching out to me from heaven as I cascaded in slow motion to the concrete.   But for some reason, it wasn’t my time and the bulky KELOLAND parka I was wearing cushioned the blow. In fact, instead of slamming hard into the cement, I sort of rolled like a circus acrobat dismounting from the top of a human pyramid. I stood up and was absolutely fine. At least that’s what I told the fella who got out of his car and came running to my aid after witnessing such a big guy taking such a perilous plunge. Anyway, Linda would rather I stick to decorating at ground level from now on.

We don’t go all out on Christmas decorations IN the house anymore either. Linda brings out some of the usual stuff for the tables and kitchen counters plus she does a spiffy job on the big window in our family room..but that’s about it.

For us, like a lot of you, I’ll bet, the joy of the season is the anticipation and eventual arrival home of all our kids and grandchildren so that we can celebrate together the anticipation and arrival of God’s son.  

You know, an occasion as special as that certainly deserves a few more lights. I have a strand or two left that would go perfect above the garage. Now, were did I put that ladder?

The Keg and I

Posted: Saturday, December 4, 2010 at 12:32 pm
By: Doug Lund
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the keg sign“Doug, did you see our “Keg” is closing?” Linda said after reading a story in the morning paper. “Oh, no,” came my reply in the same tone I would use at the loss of an old friend.

 

I’ve always liked fried chicken, I guess. But it wasn’t until I tasted “broasted” chicken from Ricky’s Quicky Chicky on East 10th Street in Sioux Falls way back in the 60’s that I learned to  LOVE chicken and crave it like an addict in need of a fix.

What was so special about it? I have no idea except I’ve been told that the owner, Rick Bell, marinated every piece of chicken in a secret solution then rolled them in a generous amount of breading , the ingredients of which were also a well guarded secret, and then broasted them.

the keg fryingThe end result was a less greasy crispy delicious coating on the outside and tender moist meat on the inside. Each batch cooked to order, no sitting under heat lamps or in holding ovens.  It took a little longer but the wait was always worth it

I don’t know all the details but in 1979, Hal and Donna Larsen bought the business called Keg Beer Lounge which included Ricky’s special chicken recipe and the delicious tradition continued.  I remember salivating as I sat in the car waiting to pick up my order at the drive-up window.  Well, they got so much chicken business that they eventually moved into a larger east side location and when they outgrew that, relocated to 26th and Sycamore. The Larsen’s later sold the business to their son Neil and head cook, John Cassidy. They, too didn’t change the recipe and kept turning out that great chicken which led to expanding to a second store on the West side of Sioux Falls in 2004.  After Sunday, it’s going to be the only Keg left.

 

In an interview with the Argus, Cassidy said the economy has been tough on the Keg’s business and when an opportunity arose to sell the 26th and Sycamore location, the decision was made to consolidate. So now, we get another sports bar in its place with lots of TV screens, beer varieties and boring plates of nachos, burgers and reheated frozen chicken strips. I’m sure that’s fine with some folks, but not for  those of us who have had the world’s best fried chicken just down the street for all these years and probably figured it would always be there. 

Well, Doug, you might be saying, you can still get Keg chicken, you just have to drive a ways for it. And that’s true but I know that when the fried chicken hankerings come upon me, I’ll end up staying close to home..settling for the so-so stuff offered up at grocery stores or the Colonel. Eventually, my taste buds will adapt to such mediocrity but my mind will never forget the pure pleasure of biting into a perfectly prepared piece of hot crunchy Ricky’s Quicky Chicky fresh from the fryers at the Keg.  I just wish I and other east side Keg fans would have had those hankern’s more often so maybe the place wouldn’t have had to closed.