Archive for June 2012

The Aroma Of The Fourth

Posted: Thursday, June 28, 2012 at 6:59 pm
By: Doug Lund
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As long as others in the entertainment business don’t have a problem presenting Summer re-runs, I thought I might drag out a  timely blog written a couple years ago; sharing some Fourth of July memories from my youth.  Enjoy and, hey, be careful out there.

I see that the fireworks stands are open for business again. It’s a pretty short season for those guys to sell their inventories and make a few bucks and I hope they have a bang up year but I’m afraid I won’t be one of their customers. I’ve already seen too much of my money go up in smoke on the stock market.   

As a kid, though, I couldn’t wait for this day so I could blow any money I could scrape together on firecrackers.. often by whining to my mother and making promises I wouldn’t keep.

black cat

I’d peddle my bike up to the Skelly station right across Highway 14 which had laid in a  nifty supply of Roman candles, fountains, rockets, smoke bombs, black snakes, sparklers, lady fingers and fire crackers; LOTS of firecrackers. I can still see them now; piles of colorful packages with bright labels from exotic mysterious China. They came in various sizes and lots of different brand names: Thunder Bomb, Red Devil, Zebra, Wolf Pack and, of course, the more reliable but also more expensive, Black Cats.

I think what I remember most about those days leading up to and including the 4th were the smells.

After the guy at Skelly’s put my purchases, which also included one box each of sparklers and black snakes into a brown paper bag along with a couple free punks, I got my first whiff of black powder compressed into each little tube.

“Don’t you be setting those off anywhere near the building,” the Skelly’s guy said, “This is a gas station. The whole place could go up.”

Mom gave me pretty much the same warning when I got home but I headed straight for the gas stove, turned on a burner and held a punk in the flame until wisps of smoke arose and the aroma of burnt cork filled the kitchen. A couple of quick blows on the end to make sure it was properly lit, then I grabbed my paper bag filled with explosives and out the front door to make some noise.

“You be careful,” mom said, “remember what happened to Denny.”

My older brother had tried to blow his fingers off by holding a Silver Salute too long. It went off about six inches from his hand which caused poor mom to nearly faint when he came home and she saw it wrapped in a blood soaked rag. He sill bears the scars of his foolish bravado.

bllack cat zebraI sat on the steps opening the first of four firecracker packs; carefully unwinding the strand that weaves around the fuses holding the whole bunch together. I grab one, set it on the sidewalk then touch the punk’s glowing tip to the fuse. Oh, the excitement when it ignites with a hissing sound then eats it’s way back to the business end of the explosive and BANG it  goes off with a report loud enough to draw the attention of neighbor kids who come running over to watch the show.

As my audience grows, I become braver with each firecracker until I hardly run away at all. But then, as quickly as it began, it’s over. All that remain are a few duds so I lay each cylinder flat on the cement, snap them in half until a little powder falls out and light the middle. Sometimes they ignite and twirl around like a runaway water hose and if you slam the heel of your shoe on them just right they still give off a little pop. Most of the time, though, it’s just a fizzle.

I once took one of those duds apart and was amazed to discover that the insides of firecrackers were made from shreds of Chinese newspapers. What an odd thing to see ..printing in a language that uses drawings instead of letters.

I tried to keep the neighborhood kids interested by setting off a few black snakes that start out looking like a rabbit pellet but when extreme heat is applied will erupt into snaky coils of  carbon that emit a pungent burning tar-like odor. They also leave big black circles on the sidewalk which riled my mother too.

sparklerBut after dark, I do remember her sitting on the front step watching with delight as my brothers and I lit sparkers that burned so brightly they left a trail of light when we’d swing them around making big circles or writing our names.

Funny, as I think about it now, she worried about firecrackers but didn’t bat an eye at our holding on to welding rods throwing a shower of red hot sparks inches from our noses.

 

Doug Is All Wet

Posted: Tuesday, June 26, 2012 at 9:04 am
By: Doug Lund
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On “staycation” this week with our friends, Denny and Joanie.  To celebrate our shared anniversaries and Denny’s birthday in late June, the four of us usually head off on lengthy sojourns by car or plane to some distant destination. This year, though..in part because Linda’s mom isn’t doing so hot  but mostly as our way of giving the finger to big oil companies, we decided to stay closer to home. That brings us to Lake Madison where we chose to again accept the long standing generous offer by Denny and Joanie’s daughter and son-in-law to take up residence at their cabin for a few days. Karen and Paul Rensch are rarely here during the week so we have a run of the place which includes long chats sitting out on the deck or the dock during soft warm summer evenings with a fishing line always in the water just in case something swims by and grabs the bait; a bullhead and a  small Walleye have been the only takers so far. There was a time when the girls would slip into  bathing suits and paddle around in the water but these days they’re more inclined..and just as  content…to dangle their toes in the tepid green water. I think Denny would like to go swimming but can’t find anybody to take the plunge with him; certainly not me. I haven’t removed my shirt  in public for decades and don’t ever intend to either thank you very much.

doug swimming patch I suppose if somebody was drowning I’d dive in to save them..afterall, I am an official Red Cross Advanced Lifesaver and have a patch like this tucked away somewhere to prove it.

I recently came across a photograph from when I was a kid of me and a bunch of other youngsters at the curb in front of the Volga Auditorium waiting for the school bus to pick us all up for the short ride to the Brookings Pool for our weekly Red Cross sponsored swim safety course.

doug swimming running

That’s me in the flowery shirt whistling and charging toward the bus which had just rounded the corner. Funny, I can still name just about every kid in the photo which was taken by a professional photographer and printed in the Volga Tribune. I used to love those lessons; in part because swimming came easy to me and also I was at the age of self awakening and bewilderment; unable to quite figure out why I so looked forward to seeing those bronze skinned South Dakota State College women lifeguards who served as our swim instructors. Those lessons were pretty early in the morning and the water was usually chilly. It didn’t take long for me to get used to it but I can still see some of the purple-lipped skinnier kids standing along the edge, wrapped in a towel shaking uncontrollably refusing to be coaxed back into the water. (They never got a patch.)  A few of us breezed through the preliminaries;  like ducking your head underwater and using a board to help keep you afloat as you kicked and paddled your way forward. In no time a few of us were doing the crawl stroke back and forth across the pool without assistance which qualified us to swim in the deep end where the diving boards were. I loved the swimming pool and would either ride my bike or hitchhike to Brookings whenever I could muster up enough lawn mowing money to cover the cost of admission.

doug swimming basketIt’s been over fifty five years but I can still smell the powerful aroma of chlorine that hit my nose upon entering the brick building which led to the water. After paying the quarter, customers were issued a wire locker basket to put street clothes in. Each numbered basket had a big metal diaper pin with the corresponding number that you’d affix to your suit.

doug swimming pinThe bottom of the pool used to be littered with them leading to chaos when a kid who’d lost his tried to reclaim his pants and shoes. I believe it was rule number three that said everybody had to take a shower before entering the pool. I never could figure out the apparent redundancy until some kids showed up looking as if it was the first shower they’d had in months. Even then I remember being grateful that their grime and sweat was going down the shower drain and not floating amongst the general population like a big oil slick. We were expected to take a turn under the spout after swimming too. I suppose it was to wash the chemicals off but, in my case, I learned to appreciate the benefit of a cold shower after beholding those lovely college girls perched atop their lifeguard stands all day.

I sure do miss those days at the Brookings Pool when..even though I was a chubby kid.. modesty didn’t prevent me from those wonderful watery experiences.

Heck, maybe, just for old times sake,  I’ll sneak out of the cabin late tonight and go skinny dipping in the lake. I’ll probably need a shower afterwards to wash off the algae but at my age, there’s no reason the water needs to be cold.

A Scaled Down Blog

Posted: Monday, June 18, 2012 at 9:43 am
By: Doug Lund
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I receive lots of e-mails and Facebook entries that feature someone’s idea of fascinating subject matter whether it be pithy sayings, preposterous political propaganda, religious rhetoric, dirty jokes and cartoons or photographs..I’m sent lots of photographs. Some I cannot click DELETE  fast enough, others get a quick glance but one I received last week kept me awed and occupied for over an hour and I wanted to share here.  I’ve never met Michael Paul Smith but I have become a huge fan of his work. He’s a Pennsylvania guy who’s just a marvelous photographer and, like me, loves all things automotive. His combination of those skills has set the hobby world on its ear.  Well, here are a few samples of his stuff..see for yourself.

 

A busy street in Elgin Park on a cold winter's day

A busy street in Elgin Park USA on a cold winter's day in the 1950's

A rainy Spring night

A rainy Spring night

What’s so special about those images, you say? Well, check this out.

All is not what it seems. That's Mr. Smith standing behind the die cast model cars. He places them on a card table. Sprinkles some powdered sugar on a grey flat and, using a natural background, uses perspective for his photos.

All is not what it seems. That's Mr. Smith standing behind a few of the 300 plus die cast model cars in his collection. He places them on a card table, sprinkles some powdered sugar on a grey flat and, using a natural background, finds perfect perspective for his photos.

Just a simple card table and homemade flat.

Just a simple card table and homemade flat for the street or parking lot.

Smith never uses photoshop although he will use different settings to create a mood like black and white. He also uses a simple 6 pixel camera with no fancy lenses..again because its perfect for the proper look.

Smith never uses computer photoshop although he will use different settings to create a mood like black and white. He also uses just a simple 6 pixel camera with no fancy lenses..again because its perfect for the proper look.

Smith has over 300 high end die cast model vehicles. He makes the houses and buildings himself in incredible detail.

Although Smith does not make the cars..he does construct the houses and buildings himself in incredible detail.

He uses natural lighting for the day scenes.

He uses natural lighting for the day scenes.

For many of the night scenes he'll use a few electric lights

For many of the night scenes he'll use a few electric lights

I love this shot. To achieve it, Smith used a 60 watt bulb inside the store which, like all of the buildings, me constructed himself.

I love this shot. To achieve it, Smith used a 60 watt bulb inside the store which, like all of the buildings, benches, street lamps, signs, fences and furniture he made himself.

A hot summer day in the fifties

A hot summer day in the fifties

The reality. Amazing.

The reality. Amazing.

Smith used tiny LED lights to create this early campsite scene.

Smith used tiny LED lights in the homemade trailer to create this early campsite scene.

At the Elgin Park Depot in the thirties.

At the Elgin Park Depot in the thirties.

The reality.

The reality.

I’m pretty late coming to this Michael Paul Smith appreciation party. Google tells me that his pictures have been viral on the internet for some time and millions have  seen them but if you’d like to spend a little more time checking out Elgin Park USA  CLICK HERE .

Now, I’ve got to get back writing my next blog on potentially dangerous pet cats…NOT!

Rotties And Dobies And Pitties..Oh My!

Posted: Wednesday, June 13, 2012 at 11:52 am
By: Doug Lund
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What has four legs and one arm?

 

A PIT-BULL!

 

“What are you gonna write about in your blog this week, Doug?” a friend asked the other day. “Well, I’ve been thinking about  weighing in on the debate over whether or not certain breeds of dogs, like Pit-bulls, Rottweilers and Dobermans, should be banned in the city limits of Sioux Falls because they’re vicious,” I said. “Waddaya Nuts? Don’t you realize that dog lovers are going to tear into you like a…well, a Pitt-bull on a bunny rabbit?” he warned.

Point is, I’m not advocating for or against the proposal but I do have a few questions and observations. First and foremost is that every one of those breeds scare the snot out of me and, in my walking days, the site of a pair of Dobermans barking wildly and charging the backyard fence each day as I’d pass by, always caused my bowels to loosen just a little bit. Oh, I tried stopping and would speak softly..calling them puppy but they’d have none of it and kept looking for a hole in the fence large enough to squeeze through and get at my throat. Well, Doug, dogs are territorial and they’re just defending their territory. Well, that sidewalk is my territory paid for with my tax dollars and I should have the right to stroll by without being terrorized. There were lots of dogs of all breeds and sizes along my three mile route but only two (why are Dobermans usually in pairs) that wished me dead. Well, it must be the owner’s fault for not spending enough time with his dogs training them. I guess everybody agrees on that. I think most would also agree that these dogs..especially the three mentioned above..were genetically designed to be powerful, intimidating and in some cases, like Pit-bulls, vicious. What I don’t understand is why so many people feel the need to own one knowing that these creatures will require a lot of extra attention to train out the natural nastiness bred into them. I can hear it now, you don’t know what you’re talking about Lund, my “Rottie’ or my “Dobie” or my “Pittie” is the most gentle friendly dog on the planet. They also claim guys like me in the media are to blame for giving them a bad rap; only reporting attacks by these animals while, in fact,  more people are actually bitten by lovable Labradors..failing to mention that labs outnumber Rotties, Dobies and Pitties by a gazillion to one so your odds of an unfortunate encounter with a mean one are somewhat greater. Plus, unlike a Pit-bull, a lab is likely to bite once and take off rather than hang around until the attackee is dead as a carp.  

How do you see a Pit-bull?   Like this:

pit bull nice

Or This:

pitbull vicious

It seems on one hand they detest the media for what they believe to be unfairly labeling their dog vicious, while on the other they love the fact that their animal is a more effective watchdog because it has the reputation of simply having to do nothing more than stand there to keep trespassers away.

I personally think people like having these breeds of dogs mostly for the wow factor. “Wow, you have a Pit-bull?” “Isn’t he dangerous? Aren’t you afraid?Has he ever attacked anybody?”

Sort of like those who go to Buffalo Wild Wings and order the hottest ones on the menu and consume them in pain in order to impress their friends. “Wow, how can you eat those? Aren’t you on fire?”

 

 

I literally don’t have a dog in this fight (Even though I’ve tried to convince Linda we should get one) and I’m certainly not advocating the extermination of Pit-bulls but unless there’s a way to make sure they don’t wind up in the care of idiotic uncaring owners, I wouldn’t mind allowing the breed to naturally go extinct.

Okee Dokee commenters…SIC ‘EM.

Staying The Course

Posted: Tuesday, June 5, 2012 at 10:14 am
By: Doug Lund
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Sitting here at one of my favorite spots in the whole world; the club house patio overlooking hole number 18 of the Brandon Golf Course. There’s a day-long tournament going on so I can’t play but sitting here is just fine. It’s just a perfect place to find soothing solace if you’ve had a rough day on the links or an ideal locale for celebrating a good round with friends. Today, I’m here in search of blog inspiration. The view is…well, I’ve got my camera along..see for yourself.

BGC A little "slice" of heaven

BGC A little "slice" of heaven

 Dang it,  my laptop is flashing low battery. I’ll need to move into the lounge and plug in. Damn…I forgot my charger at home. Check with Zane..see if he has one in the office. Nope. Oh, well, guess I’ll take a cart down the hill and hit a few balls on the practice range. “Sorry, Doug,” Shelia says, “every cart is in use.”

Walking down to the range isn’t bad but climbing the steep hill back up is, for a fat fellow, just askin’ for the guy wearing a black hoodie robe carrying a scythe to call your name.

Home again.. tethered to the outlet getting recharged; my laptop with electricity; me with cranberry juice and vodka… reflecting on the weekend just passed.

Had a fine time Saturday evening watching the Sioux Falls Pheasants kick the crap out of the Lincoln Saltdogs. My cousin had a pair of extra tickets and invited us to the ballgame. We  haven’t been to the stadium for a few years and were a bit surprised by a couple things; 14 dollars for two small beers and some peanuts and the rather sparse attendance in the stands. We speculated about what needs to be done to attract more people to the ballpark agreeing that a key factor is putting a winning team on the field. The Pheasants are off to a pretty good start in that direction this season; hopefully, it results in big cheers from bigger crowds as the summer goes on.

Linda and I passed on church Sunday.

pastor The pastor, Marlin Haugrud, who has been the inspiration for our faith renewal, turns 65 this year and is leaving full time ministry to go into semi-retirement. I know, I know..church shouldn’t be about the person in the pulpit but, truth is, that’s often the case. Lutheran preachers must learn in seminary that it’s not good for a congregation to get too cozy with their pastor so most of them “get the call” and move on every few years. I remember how traumatic it was when preachers came and left First Lutheran in Volga when I was growing up. I recall each one: Hovde, Halbakken, Bergland, Schmitt, Olering and Hulberg.  

Linda and I feel that same sense of angst and sadness now that Reverend Haugrud is leaving our little country church; Springdale Lutheran. But, we’re so grateful for his loving spirit and friendship over the past five years. He is the epitome of what “grace” truly is. We wish him God’s peace and happiness as he and Ellen find more time for each other and their growing number of grandchildren.

So, while we were skipping church, the Grand Falls Casino was hosting a car show made up of Corvettes and Camaros. The little devil on my shoulder said you ought to go over there and check it out. I mentioned this to Linda who said that would be fun…plus, as long as we’re there, maybe she could go inside and make a donation to the Sioux Falls Jaycee fireworks show.

It was such a nice day; almost as if God was endorsing our house of worship truancy.

It wasn't part of the show but when I parked our 18 year old Camaro, a guy and his son came over..looked inside and out making nice comments.

It wasn't part of the show but when I parked our 18 year old Camaro, a guy and his son came over..looked inside and out making nice comments.

Most cars in the show were Vettes

Most cars in the show were Vettes

One of my favorites, this stunning 1959 Corvette

One of my favorites, this stunning 1959 Corvette

Magnificent interior too

Magnificent interior too

A classic early Camaro

A classic early Camaro

Amazing paint job on this early Camaro. Kept changing color in the bright sunlight.

Amazing paint job on this early Camaro. Kept changing color in the bright sunlight.

 Here it is, Tuesday Morning. A new day and time to head back over to Brandon to meet up with my golfing pals and hope the time spent on the patio after my round will be one of celebration and not consolation.