Vee Haff Vays

Posted: Friday, February 15, 2013 at 10:40 am
By: Doug Lund
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So far, I haven’t seen anybody outside my house dressed like city Gestapo agents checking the walkability of my sidewalks but I can imagine the scene if they did show up.

Ding Dong.

I open the door. “Yes, Mr. Lund,” the one wearing a monocle says, “are you avare zat zee city assorities have issued orders zat sidewalks must be free uff zee ice by zis time yet yours are not. Explain.”  “Well, I figured that since you guys didn’t feel it necessary to clean my street, you really couldn’t expect homeowners to stand out there banging away at the ice on sidewalks..which, technically, you own.”

“Zat is no excuse, Mr. Lund. We haff vays of making you work and belief me zay can be most unpleasant. Is zat vat you vish?” “No sir, no. I’ll get right to it. Please don’t take me off in that big black car of yours.” “Very well..see zat you do or vee will return mitt zee dogs.”

We’ve made it to mid February and soon those howling frigid north winds that’ll flash freeze you on the spot, will be replaced with gentle warm breezes wafting up from the south It will be spring and we can brag about surviving one more Dakota winter.

Every time I used to share that Pollyanna optimism with the Keloland weather doctor, Jay Trobec, he’d point out that March and April are often the snowiest months of the year.

There are, though, a few undeniable signs that our suffering is at an end. Spring training has begun and the engines of NASCAR will soon be roaring to life for the Daytona 500 and the beginning of another racing season.

As most of you know, I love cars and I got to thinking the other day about where my fascination with the automobile first began and then it hit me; my brother, Denny’s go kart that he built when we were kids.

He had somehow procured a pedal-start motor from an old washing machine. (Yes, early washing machines used to be powered by a gasoline engine with a kick start. God I’m old.) Anyway, Denny also found a two by six board for the chassis, a pair of two by fours for the axles and four wheels from a pull wagon; probably from my Radio Flyer that would be worth a fortune today. He managed to bolt the engine down and configure a drive mechanism out of a stick with a pulley attached. He either steered the thing with his feet or a rope tied to the front axle..I don’t recall. But I do remember mom saying “Oh, dear lord” the first time he fired it up and flew down our gravel street in a cloud of dust and burning oil.

Unbelievably there's an image of a go kart on the web that looks exactly like my brother's. In fact, that even looks like him..but it's not.

Unbelievably there’s an image of a go kart on the web that looks exactly like my brother’s. In fact, that even looks like him..but it’s not.

But there were times when that old motor wouldn’t fire and I can still see Denny kicking and kicking and sweating and swearing. I learned all the satisfying curses from my brother working on that &^#@$% go kart. 

Dad, being a carpenter and wood craftsman, just couldn’t help but get caught up in my brother’s project and, sort of like a father helping his boy scout son build a toy car for the Pinewood Derby, Dad decided to turn Denny’s basic motorized plank into a magnificent example of homemade transportation. He spent hours constructing a hood, fenders and grill for the thing..then painted it British Racing Green.

The front end on this one looks very much like the grill and hood dad made.

The front end on this one looks very much like the grill and hood dad made.

I believe Denny actually drove it in a Cossack Day parade but he lost interest after getting a driver’s license and a real car. It sat idle in the garage for years and years. Every once in a while, I’d go in and give the pedal a kick hoping that it would miraculously fire up and I could take her for a spin but it never did. I have a hunch mom dumped a cup of sugar in the gas tank.

Well, I hope you all have a wonderful weekend. Heck, we’re already off to a terrific start by dodging that killer meteor which provided a close encounter Friday.

Wait..what’s this?

Two guys in dark trench coats just pulled up the driveway in a black car with city plates.

“Linda…DO NOT answer that door!”

9 Comments

  1. Doug Lund says:

    This is a test. This is only a test. Do not search the skies for meteorites and curse the decision not to build a bomb shelter in the basement. Should this had been an actual alert, you would be given instructions on how to comment and why comments are so important to the author’s ego.
    This has been a test of the Lund insecurity system. We now return you to regular programming.

  2. COngruent Triangles says:

    Doug,

    Nice article. Thanks for taking the time to shake my hand last night at the restruant and your friendly demenor. I was thinking on the drive home and wondered how many times in your carreer you had to put up with people that would blindly walk up to you and introduce themselves. You know I was telling you about how when I was a kid I could not wait to watch your newcasts with my Grandparents when We would visit SD in the summer months. At one time I thought about communications and journalisom but I found that I was not much of a writer when I tried for the school paper but I always found your articles to be worthwhile in whatever format you chose to give to us and to appreciate listen and learn from. Anyway, My girfriends son asked me who I was talking to last night and well when I said your name he did what young kids do. Oh…etc and he reminded me that you are still just a person like the rest of us that has been lucky enough to provide a great amount of information to our state and community, most of which was reporting that was unbiased unlike some of what I see today. You and Steve are two people that I would love to sit down with and just pick your brains. Warmest wishes.

    Thanks again Doug.

  3. Cam Lind says:

    There were a couple of goons hanging around John Mogen this morning, I thought they were the OFF KEY Police. But maybe not.

  4. JeniW says:

    When I used to live in a small community, there was a thing about clearing the sidewalk of ice and snow by a certain time there too.

    That was tough, made even worse was the fact that I was the only house onthat stretch of the block with a sidewalk. My neighbors did not have to clear any sidewalks, and across the street was the community hospital, and there was not any sidewalks there either.

    I made the conclusion that having a sidewalk was one of the many punishments of home ownership.

    I now live in a apartment, and have sworn to never again pursue the American Dream (Nightmare) of home ownership.

    I can fully sympathize with all home owners who have to meet the guidelines for sidewalks, tree limbs/branches, yard care, and all of that.

    But, I will tell you Doug, and all the others who have sidewalks, I greatly appreciate your efforts to maintain and keep your sidewalk safe, not only for me, but for others as well. THANK YOU!!

  5. rdl says:

    I have a friend who thinks the auto insurance companies should be willing to clean the ice off the streets. They would save a lot of money on auto damage claims.

  6. marilyn hesby says:

    I like all the talk about spring and the warm breeze! Yes that does look like denny! Keep up the good work, Friends Marilyn

  7. Curt Peterka says:

    Doug….your story about your brothers “wash machine go-cart” cracked me up. Way back in grade school my buddy and I did exactly the same thing…only we used my old wagon. We mounted the same type of engine as you did and some how figured out a pulley system…now called a “direct drive”. I was able to convince Greg Bailey,(my buddy) to take the first maiden run down the driveway. As the “beast” fired up, it took off like a NASCAR exiting the pits. To make a funny story short, everything worked pretty good except we didn’t consider what would happen if one tried to TURN!!! Yup, immagine turning something with the axle wheels almost under your butt…needless to say Greg did a 360 as the wagon tipped over. But we were “bullet proof” so, now it was my turn. Yikes going straight wasn’t too bad but down the street I went…(at least 350 miles per hour)….anyway it sure seemed that way. I remember going about a block until we crashed into a curb. Gollly what fun. Even today, if you ever go out to eat at Murdo’s on the Nebraska side of the river, west of Yankton you might find Gregg relaxing at the bar…just ask him about this adventure….we still laugh today.

  8. Denny says:

    Great likeness to the 2 carts! Brings back another memory–there was an older gal up the block who always wanted a cart ride–hard to remember her name as I was so young( Her Grandpa had a “Koolaid company named LADY LYNNAL)–Oh well, I was only 10 or 12 and she was probably in her ealy twenties—–

  9. Lynn says:

    I totally agree with you on the Gestapo tactics the city was threatening us with. Or, it felt like a threat. No common sense – why wrench your shoulder chopping ice when the warm 2 days and sunshine took care of the problem. I also feel that using a time of day (2:00 pm) was insulting. Does it have to be that exact? Why not the end of the day? I work till 6 pm, as well as others. As far as the city “enforcement” goes, I have seen other winters where the people that are near my office NEVER shoveled the whole winter, as well as some new neighbors on my own block.
    On another thought, I remember when we sacrificed our roller skates, nailed them to a board and had our own skate board. Not real fancy, we could not use dad’s saw for design, but it lasted a couple of rides down the hill on our block. Those were the days.

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