Archive for June 2011

Vacationing In Minnesota..A Gamble

Posted: Tuesday, June 28, 2011 at 9:45 am
By: Doug Lund
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I’m not supposed to be here.

Let me rephrase that. Linda and I were planning to be out of town over the weekend and part of this week on a mini vacation to the North Shore of Lake Superior and Northern Minnesota woodlands. But those plans changed after spending a little travel-planning time on the computer which revealed lousy weather in the forecast and hotel/motel rates in that part of the world are OUT of this world. Even the thrifty folks at the Duluth Super 8 somehow believe one of their rooms is worth 135 dollars for a Friday night in the summertime. Umm..no, it’s not. Not even if the room has a view of the lift bridge and they throw in a few postcards of the Edmund Fitzgerald before and after she sank to the bottom of Lake Superior, I’m not shelling out that kind of money. But somebody IS apparently because most of the places had even higher rates and were full up.

jackpot junction packing 006

So, being really smart people, we decided to go to Jackpot Junction near Redwood Falls instead.  Okay, yeah..it’s a casino. But room rates are half of Duluth..plus you have a shot, albeit a remote one, at WINNING the entire cost of vacation  back. Okay, yeah, that didn’t happen but at least there’s the thrill of the wager. Okay, yeah..I don’t play casino games myself anymore but Linda and our friends, Denny and Joanie, do and were happy with the choice. It also gave Denny and me a chance to tackle Dakotah Ridge golf course again.

jackpot junction dakota ridge golf

Dakotah Ridge, which is affiliated with the casino, is simply the nicest public course I’ve ever been on. Its bent-grass fairways are like putting greens and, on those rare occasions when we actually landed a drive on one, we felt uncomfortable hitting down on the ball for fear we’d tear up the beautifully manicured surface. That must be the reason neither of us played very well. Yeah, that’s it.

We gave “Big Red” (our massive old high miles Lincoln) a break this trip and took Denny’s Nissan. It’s a very comfortable and economical car but at first glance you are convinced there’s no way all of our luggage AND two sets of golf clubs will ever fit into that trunk.

jackpot junction packing 001

Denny ought to charge a fee for letting people watch as he performs his magic show.

As Joanie describes a romantic evening to Linda, Denny struggles to remember how he got it all to fit the last time..the luggage, that is.

As Joanie describes a romantic evening to Linda, Denny struggles to remember how he got it all to fit the last time..the luggage, that is.

And Voila..next show at 2

And Voila..next show at 2

It may take a few tries, but he somehow manages to get everything in its proper place so the trunk lid will close…barely.

We may not have gotten up into the Minnesota woods this time but we did travel through a forest of those silly spendy whirligigs spinning away along the breezy Buffalo Ridge.

jackpot junction windmills

No, I’m not going on another rant about how obtrusive and landscape-spoiling I find them to be but I did take particular pleasure in seeing one of the turbines at a standstill with its giant prop hanging limp as if  it had been in a collision.

A confrontation with a Bald Eagle or Whooping Crane, perhaps?

Fleeing Facebook?

Posted: Wednesday, June 22, 2011 at 1:15 pm
By: Doug Lund
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yankton facebookI see by some of my Facebook friends that Facebook is LOSING friends by the boatload. 7 million last month alone by some accounts. Don’t worry, there are still 700 million of us left. I suspect it’s mostly young people fleeing like deer from a forest fire because they’re tired of having their on-line party crashed by old farts like me who’ve discovered that the social network is just dandy for posting pictures of the grandkids and backyard barbeques or hourly personal status reports on such important matters as what I had for breakfast or where to find the cheapest place to buy Metamucil.  It’s like Ward and June Cleaver have moved into Wally and The Beaver’s bedroom so they can pal around together. And even though Eddie Haskell would say to their face, “Why, Mr. and Mrs. Cleaver, how very nice to have you be part of our one big happy Facebook family”..he’s not fooling anybody with his phony politeness.

No..No..No. The kids (And, by kids I mean anyone under 30) don’t want us messing around in what was once their exclusive territory and I’m guessing Mark Zuckerberg, the 27 year old billionaire whiz-kid Facebook founder, is already devising a new network to accommodate those young exiles demanding a clear generation separation.  

yankton taylorMeanwhile, my grandson Taylor, the Marine, has figured out a way for me and grandma to still be his Facebook friends but keep us blocked from seeing his photos or reading his wall. Taylor’s motive is pure, though. I’m sure he’d just rather we weren’t exposed to the occasional (okay, prolific) use of language in his posts that’s common among military personnel but not in polite society and colorful descriptions of life on the front lines in Afghanistan. This image of Taylor is one of the few light moments he’s shared from his time in the desert.

Anyway, I love Facebook and believe it’s here to stay.

 Through it, I’ve discovered  many long lost friends and relatives. Just last week, I touched base with a cousin in Seattle and a Keloland colleague neither of whom I’d seen or heard from in 35 years.

                             *********************************

Like most of you, I’ve seen lots flooding pictures since the U.S. Corps of Engineers started sending ginormous amounts of Missouri River water cascading through the dams and into people’s back yards but I wanted to see it for myself. So last weekend, Linda and I along with our friends, the Graves, piled into Big Red and headed for Yankton.

yankton ground view

The road over Gavin’s Point Dam was clogged with vehicles filled with looky-loos like us. The cloud of mist rising up from the spillways is visible for miles. Once you get close, it’s a bit frightening to witness all that water gushing angrily through the wide open gates and boiling up in great white swirling torrents before racing southward. One can’t help but imagine what would happen if the strain was just too much and the whole thing let go. But on the Lewis and Clark reservoir, behind the dam, all was peace and tranquility. Dozens of sailboats skimmed across the water and all of the campsites were full as if nothing was going on just a mile or so downstream.

Well, watching so much running water not only makes a fella have to pee but works up quite an  appetite.  So we decided to satisfy both pressing issues  with a stop at the historic (It’s been there since the mid 60’s) yankton black steerBlack Steer in downtown Yankton. I remember dining there a few times in the  70’s and the décor inside hasn’t changed a lick in all that time; deep dark oak paneling, red carpet and dim lighting. I half expected to see the cast of Goodfellas sitting at a back table. We decided to dine in the lounge because we were thirsty after such a busy day. We became less thirsty after learning that mixed drinks cost about the same price as they charge in airport bars.

I recalled that they used to make their own special salad dressings. I was especially fond of the Thousand Island and would buy a jar of it at the checkout counter to take home. I didn’t see any for sale this time though..plus they happened to be out of the Thousand Island so we settled for the homemade French and bleu cheese which were delicious. Three of us ordered steaks and one chose scallops; then the long wait began. Not only did it seem like the cook had to kill and butcher the cow himself but, in our case, he took it to a 4-H show first.  Ugh, the only thing the four of us could do during the long wait was talk or drink or both. But with booze selling at five bucks a pop, I wasn’t sure we had enough cash in the debit account. Besides I still had to drive home. The chef way back in the kitchen must have heard the loud  growls coming from my empty ample abdomen because our waiter..who was also our bartender..finally wheeled out a cart full of food. It all tasted very good but after two hours sitting there I’d have gobbled down a big plate of road kill raccoon and been happy. It took another half hour to get our check, pay and depart. I know, I know, you can’t rush quality and there’s a reason The Black Steer has been in business so long but if  I wish to spend so much time lingering over  dinner I’d rather it was my choice and AFTER I ate..not before.

We’ll have to give JoDean’s a shot next time we’re in Yankton. I hear they have a no wait buffet.

If WomenDon’t Find Ya Handsome They Should At Least Find Ya Handy(Red Green)

Posted: Friday, June 17, 2011 at 4:18 pm
By: Doug Lund
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Linda and I recently shelled out 600 bucks to finally take care of some plumbing issues in the house which had progressed way beyond the point of denial and my poor power to find ingenious solutions with duct tape. Replacing the 40 year faucets in the bathtub, vanity and kitchen actually required a hole to be cut in the wall as well as the severing and soldering of a few copper pipes.  I should have been able to do the job myself because I’ve been well trained in home improvement techniques by watching all the “how-to” programs on TV..but Linda would have none of it.

norm abrahmIt’s true; I’ve been a fan of “This Old House” since it first went on the air. I also love all the woodworking shows and have lived vicariously through master carpenter, Norm Abram, since his first appearance on the program in 1979. I’ve even bought several power tools but, as Linda or any of my kids will tell you, I am NOT handy with them; more like dangerous, actually. They happily recount instances of my tool related close encounters with death and dismemberment due to over confidence, carelessness and an occasional lack of respect for electricity. I don’t know why I find handymen so fascinating. Perhaps it was because my dad was one of the best; not only as a carpenter, cabinet maker and woodworker but he was a pretty good mechanic too having turned a garage full of rusty Model T parts into a couple of beautifully restored vehicles which he proudly drove in area parades for years.

Dad with the first of two Model T's he restored. This is a Depot Hack, sort of an early station wagon that required his skills as a woodworker too.

Dad with the first of two Model T's he restored. This is a Depot Hack, sort of an early station wagon that required his skills as a woodworker too.

Today, there are lots of television shows dedicated to nothing but the building and restoration of cars and trucks and even though I don’t have a shred of mechanical ability myself, I am mesmerized by the process. Just as I admired my dad’s skills, I regard these TV mechanics as superstars.  For some reason, I really enjoy seeing old vehicles saved from the junk pile and transformed into sparkling new souped-up street machines. Perhaps there’s a metaphor in there somewhere about getting old but I doubt it. I ain’t that deep. But I must tell you that I DO have a little personal history on this subject that goes back to long before there were any television shows about it.

My childhood chum, Donny Tucker, was just like all boys in the 50’s and 60’s; crazy about cool cars. But UNLIKE most kids, Donny was born with a silver wrench in his hand. By the time he was ten years old, he knew all about auto mechanics and could take a car apart and put it back together like a pro. He also knew how to weld and operate a cutting torch.  We were young lads in high school when the subject of our building a hot rod together came up. He knew of a 1927 Model T shell that we could mount on the chassis of a later model Ford flathead V/8 which he also had access to. We would be able to work out of a shop owned by his dad. It had lots of tools, a welder, and cutting torch.. PLUS a Knipco Kerosene heater which stunk to high heaven when in use but kept us toasty warm in the wintertime.  The deal was that I would pay half the cost and be there to help with the grunt work. Beyond that, my contribution to the hot rod’s construction was mostly holding the trouble light and handing Donny the tools he needed. I don’t remember how long it took to build but most of the money I earned from delivering groceries and mowing lawns went into that dang hot rod. I also missed at least a year of dating possibilities because WAY too many nights were wasted in that blasted shop holding a light and yawning a lot. Finally the day came when it was ready to fire up and take for a test drive. We’d bought a couple plastic chairs with metal legs, cut the legs off then bolted them to the floor board to use for seats and that was about the extent of interior work. It really was a HOT rod; so light in the rear end that the old tires would spin at the slightest provocation from the throttle. To be honest, it was a little (okay a lot) scary to drive. What the hot rod lacked in creature comforts and other amenities was more than made up for by the great paint job. Our friend and fellow Volgaite, Denny Nagel..who still runs a body shop in Brookings today, did the work giving it a fetching blue metallic color. Well..see for yourself.

hot rod

That’s Denny behind the wheel. He eventually bought the hot rod after Donny and I decided that..for him anyway..most of the fun was in the building. I had other reasons for agreeing to sell; even at 50 cent a gallon gasoline, I couldn’t afford the cost of fuel, oil, tires and the price of insurance.  I think both my Dad and Mom were much relieved when it disappeared from our drive-way and up the street in a cloud of dust.     I’d forgotten what the hot rod really looked like until I ran into Denny Nagel recently. He thought he might have a photograph of it lying around somewhere which, as you can see, he did.  Denny also thinks he knows where the thing might actually be located. I wish he wouldn’t have told me that because now all I can think about is finding and restoring it just like my mechanical heroes on TV. I’ll have to check with Donny though to see if he still has the use of a well equipped shop.  I’m pretty sure Linda would be more than glad to have me out of the house a few nights a week. Besides, I’m still one of the best light holders and wrench passers in the business. Now, let’s see, where did I put Don’s number?

Why Do We Live Here?

Posted: Monday, June 13, 2011 at 10:09 am
By: Doug Lund
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It’s usually around mid October when I first start complaining about the approach of another winter and all the problems and perils sub-zero cold and snowy weather presents.     I didn’t play golf last Tuesday because it was way too hot and windy for fat people to be out there risking heat stroke and possible death over a silly game. Instead, I stayed inside my air conditioned house and sulked about how we went from a cold, wet blustery spring right into stifling heat and humidity that felt more like a Louisiana Swamp than June on the Prairie.    Now the bugs are back trying to get into the house again and it won’t be long before outdoor conversations will turn into yelling matches because of the racket from a billion cicadas in the treetops banging on their tymbals to a deafening roar.

Geeze, Lund, if you hate it so much here why don’t you pack up and leave to someplace more to your liking and don’t let the door hit ya where the good lord split ya.

Well, hold on there a second, pally.  I’m not going anywhere..just exercising my God given rights as a bred and born native South Dakotan to pee and moan about my surroundings every now and again. In fact, I was reminded several times this past week about why I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else BUT here.

sandbagging wall

Record releases from Missouri River dams have been a hellish nightmare for homeowners who reside along the Big Muddy facing the very real possibility that those homes could be ruined by flood waters. But in this time of potential catastrophe, volunteers from all over my state and beyond have swarmed to the front lines lending a helping hand.  Among those offering up their muscle and sweat were members of my grandson, Michael’s baseball team; Sioux Falls East Legion, who, after playing two games on a hot day in Omaha, stopped on their way home outside of Sioux City and spent three hours filling sandbags destined for Dakota Dunes. Coaches and parents of the players pitched in too. That makes them winners both on and off the field in my book. 

 

sandbagging at pile

sandbagging group pix

Linda’s mom, Mary Trudeau, who still lives on her own in Alcester, hasn’t been feeling up to snuff lately so, in typical South Dakota fashion, friends and neighbors check in regularly to make sure she’s okay offering up hugs and hot dishes. The guys from the machine shop next door are right there once a week to mow her yard because..well, it’s Mary who is known to all of them for the plates of cookies and other hot- from- the- oven goodies she brings to them.

1,400 South Dakota World War II veterans have been able to see the national memorial dedicated to them and visit all the sights in Washington, D.C. free of charge thanks to organizers of the Honor Flight program which came to a conclusion last week. What began as a nice gesture two years ago has turned into a treasured memory for all the veterans and a life changing experience for those reporters who covered the dozen Honor Flights.

honor flight salute In the end, South Dakotans donated 1.4 million dollars toward this wonderful way of saying thanks to those who served.

Then, this past weekend, my cousin, Grouse, talked me into going home to Volga for “Old Timer’s Day.”  I’ve never been too keen on that name figuring I don’t need any additional reminders. But it was a gloriously beautiful day and turned out to be great fun.

More tractors and pick-ups than big floats but I caught several pieces of candy.

More tractors and pick-ups than big floats but I caught several pieces of candy.

After the parade everyone walked over to the city park for food, music and a game of guessing the names of people we hadn’t seen in decades. I was amazed at the number of those I got right. It all led to lengthy conversations filled with laughter and shared memories.  

Classmates Bev and Lynal with a plate of pies they refused to share

Classmates Bev and Lynnal with a plate of pies they refused to share

I guess I need these occasional “wake up and smell the coffee” reminders that there are other things besides a perfect climate which bring  real purpose and pleasure to life.

So, the next time you feel like grumbling about living in this state of extremes, just click your ruby slippers together three times and repeat after me, “There’s……………………

Remembering Mylo

Posted: Tuesday, June 7, 2011 at 10:14 am
By: Doug Lund
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I lost an old friend over the weekend…a VERY OLD friend.

Mylo Preheim gave up the ghost on Saturday just a few weeks after his 95th birthday..but, boy, did he ever pack a lot of living into those years!. He reminded me of that guy in the Dos Equis Beer commercials; one of the most interesting men in the world.

mylo-fence

Like a lot of guys born in the first part of the 20th century, Mylo Preheim’s formal education ended in Freeman after the 8th grade. He had to get out there and WORK. He decided to become a barber which was his profession in 1942 when he met and married  a pretty young school teacher from nearby Marion, South Dakota; Dorothy Jensen.

mylo-and-wife

 Dorothy was the love of his life and favorite dancing partner for 69 years. Cheryl Preheim Koch, one of the couple’s four children, recently compiled a pictorial history of the family and posted it on the web. In it she wrote of her father: “Dad always was self-employed and was a jack-of-all trades: barber, electronics sales & repair, public address equipment provider & announcer, sign painter, piano tuner, etc., etc., etc. He was instrumental in developing the baseball diamond in Irene in the 1950s. In 1961 he was chairman of the Dakota Territorial Centennial for Southeast South Dakota and a member of the Turner County Fair Board for over 40 years. He helped to develop Heritage Park on the fairgrounds.”

I first met Mylo Preheim in 1980 when I was invited to Parker to do a story on an amazing kiddie train he’d built from scratch. Here’s how Cheryl describes it:

mylo engine

“The Dakota Special featured Engine No. 9 made of metal measured 8 feet high and 14 feet long. The engine was built over a 3-cylinder, 18-horsepower John Deere diesel garden tractor.  Added to the engine were a coal car and two passenger cars made of wood. The “go anywhere” trackless train was 40 feet long and could haul up to 12 adults or 24 kids.”

Mylo even let me take over Engine #9′s controls and later presented me with a plaque proclaiming me an honorary engineer.  After our report ran on Keloland,  Mylo started getting calls from people wanting him to bring the Dakota Special to their town. For the next 21 years, he and Dorothy traveled with that train to hundreds of celebrations and parades all over the Midwest and Canada.

I did lots of stories with Mylo after that including one on Parker’s short lived “Turtle Days” which featured races by the slow moving shelled creatures. Another report was on Heritage Park which was filled with antiques from his personal collection. I was back to do another story in 2003 when Mylo’s beloved Heritage Park was all but destroyed by a tornado that tore through Parker and the fairgrounds. I remember asking how difficult it was to lose so many of the precious and valuable items he’d donated to the park.  He said, “They’re just things. Nobody was hurt, that’s the most important part.”

I also did a “Lund at Large” feature about his amazing Music Museum on Parker’s main street.

Mylo Preheim in his "Music Museum." Actually, most of his stuff was not music related.

Mylo Preheim in his "Music Museum." Actually, most of his stuff was not music related.

The big old brick building was crammed full of antiques and interesting stuff he’d amassed over time.  I just loved to listen to Mylo talk about the things that excited him. He’d speak almost in a whisper with a big grin on his face and..I swear..his eyes really DID twinkle as he described his latest idea or discovery.  I saw that look when he stopped down to the Keloland Studios shortly just before I retired. He wanted to give me a little something to commemorate our long friendship.  It was an old Shure microphone, like the one early Elvis used, which I’d admired at his museum. What a wonderfully thoughtful gift and it is now a treasured part of my small collection of music and broadcasting memorabilia.

mylo dancingMylo and Dorothy loved our band, Mogen’s Heroes, and would show up to listen and dance whenever we played in the area. (Mogen’s Heroes still has a standing Wednesday evening gig at Heritage Park every year during the Turner County Fair)  

The last time I saw the two of them on the dance floor was at a party in Parker to celebrate their 65th wedding anniversary and Mylo’s 90th birthday. It was about that time, though, that his health began to fail. After suffering a stroke in 2008 he’s had to live out his final years in a nursing home. I’m sure it was not the way he planned to go out but I can almost hear him say with that twinkle in his eye, It has been such a wonderful life and I can’t wait to see what happens next.”

The Corps Of The Problem

Posted: Wednesday, June 1, 2011 at 2:09 pm
By: Doug Lund
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Playing golf on Tuesday was like spending four hours strapped to the hood of a semi heading west on I-90 at 75 miles an hour.  The mighty wind made for horrific playing conditions in which shots lucky enough to find the greens had to be marked quickly before they blew OFF the greens. But, that’s just par for the course in South Dakota again this spring which has  been mostly rainy, windy or cold or a combination of  all three. But, as one of my fellow duffers said, “Any day on the golf course is still better than a day at work.”

moeller floodingI’m not complaining, though, especially after watching reports out of the Pierre and Dakota Dunes areas where volunteers from all over the Midwest are scrambling to build levees high enough to hold back the ever rising waters of the Missouri River.  Home and property owners are bearing the brunt of the Corps of Engineers’ decision to release huge torrents of water backed up behind Oahe Dam from mega rains and a big snow melt in the mountains. I don’t pretend to understand all the details but isn’t it ironic that dams built in part to CONTROL floods are now causing them. South Dakota has a long running feud with the Corps over water releases from Oahe and other main stem dams and usually gets the short end of the stick. When, during the drought years, downstream states complained they needed more water to float the few barges still operating on the river, South Dakota had to bite the bullet and watch as reservoirs were drained down low putting the kibosh on economically important river recreation industries like boating, camping and fishing. As I say, I don’t know all the details but it sure seems like we’re getting snookered by the Corps once again.

On another matter, there’s this disgusting low life who keeps finding his way into the headlines making a mockery of the U.S. Justice system. Observe the many faces of a cold blooded killer, Donald Eugene Moeller, who has played more courts in the last 20 years than Billie Jean King.

moeller 2000 long hair

     moeller 1 beardkess

moeller beardmoeller tie On June 16th, a federal appeals court will hear arguments that Donald Moeller’s constitutional rights were violated at his 1997 trial where he was convicted for a second time in the brutal 1990 rape and murder of a 9 year old Sioux Falls girl, Becky O’Connell, and sentenced to death. He’s been the poster boy for frivolous appeals ever since.  Now, the 58 year old Moeller has filed yet another; this time questioning the quality of the three drug cocktail to be used in his execution…if he ever IS executed.  It would seem there are lawyers more than willing to represent this creature through countless appeals even though two separate juries found evidence of his guilt, including DNA, to be indisputable. It’s time all appeals were exhausted and Moeller keeps his date with the devil.

Don’t believe in the death penalty? Do you think Moeller has every right to tie up the courts in order to save his hideous hide?  Let’s review, shall we?

Little Becky O’Connell was last seen on the evening of May 8, 1990. She was headed to a nearby convenience store when she was abducted by Moeller at a busy intersection. The next day, two men found her naked body in a wooded area in Lincoln County. An autopsy revealed that she had been vaginally and anally raped, and had sustained knife wounds to her neck, back, shoulder, chest, hip, arms and hands. A pathologist concluded that she died as a result of a cut to her jugular vein. Ken Albers who was the first police officer on the scene said it was terribly vicious and violent.

Donald Moeller, who had a long history of criminal sexual abuse involving the use of a knife against both women and even a 13 year old boy, was arrested a few months later and charged with rape and murder in connection with Becky’s death. He’s been moaning about HIS constitutional rights being violated ever since.

Forgiveness is up to God, of course, but it’s high time this appeal business be brought to a halt and  justice for Moeller finally be carried out.