Author Archive - Doug Lund

Global Warring

Posted: Thursday, June 19, 2014 at 2:22 pm
By: Doug Lund
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Bright and sunny outside today but I’m not buyin’ it.  Even though the radar is echo free at present, I fully expect the skies to darken into faux night time again by early afternoon followed in order by that familiar rumble from above then endless relentless waves of rain creating rivers of water gushing through overflowing gutters onto ground that was already way over saturated from previous record breaking downpours. Then, of course comes the telltale tick, tick tick of hailstones; oblong frozen spheres that look like the eyeballs of a goat, banging into the windows threatening breakage with each thwack.hail eye

Worst of all, of course, is when something even more devastating than rain and hail descend from the black clouds which happened in Wessington Springs where a tornado tore through town ripping up dozens of homes but, thanks I believe, to plenty of advance storm warnings through the media, lives were spared.

So, what’s the deal with all the weird weather we seem to be having more of  every year..big snows..no snows..ice storms..floods..droughts..tornados by the dozen one year..none the next?

Well, after this latest deluge, it hasn’t taken long for the experts to offer their learned explanations such as Kasey Abbott who made this Facebook comment on my friend, Mike Henricksen’s timeline: “ Unfortunately, it is not at all surprising that we are seeing this. 9 of the 10 warmest years on record since 1880 have occurred in the last 10 years. People can argue all they want about what is causing this warming, but no one can dispute the fact that this additional heat energy causes more evaporation, and that the amount of moisture that warmer air can hold increases dramatically. This moisture has got to come down somewhere. A review of the weather data shows a considerable increase over the last 60 years in torrential rains.”

Except when it’s dry and there’s drought…or “drouth” as my Norwegian uncles used to call it.  Last year, the Midwest did see more precipitation than normal but darned if it didn’t result in the largest corn crop and third largest bean harvest on record.

weather extreams tempweather extremes

When the ditches and fields dry up, like they will, I wouldn’t be surprised if this disastrous rainfall will be just a memory come October..provided we get a good rain in late July and a couple nice showers in August.

Okay, I realize that those of us who have a few questions about all this panic over what’s happening to the planet’s climate are, in the mind of most scientists, misinformed lunkheads too  stupid to grasp the reality about what CO2 emissions are doing to the earth’s protective ozone layer. Why, we probably go out and club baby seals to death  on the weekends so the wife will have something nice to wear around her neck at the NRA convention.

Well, here’s a shocker: I’m not denying that the planet is getting warmer but I’m sure as hell at a loss as to what I’m supposed to do about it. To me, it’s just irresponsible to scare the bejesus out of people saying millions upon millions world wide  are doomed as the ice caps melt causing the oceans to rise and city’s to flood then blame us without offering a workable realistic solution. Oh, I see all the P.S.A’s about how we can drive less, put more air in our tires for better fuel efficiency, recycle, change light bulbs to those squiggly kind, use less hot water and plant trees but I don’t think that’s going to do it.

Half the homes in the country get their electricity from coal fired power plants. There are over 600 of them and they shoot a lot of carbon dioxide into the air; even more than the methane from farting cattle that environmental/vegetarians have been trying to eradicate. President Obama recently announced the EPA is cutting those coal plant emissions by 30% by 2030 and any new coal fired plants must be built to run cleaner. It may just be lip service though. Experts (including several former EPA heads) say the move won’t have any significant effect on CO2 pollution unless countries like China, Brazil and India agree to play along.

So, perhaps it’s a P.R. problem.       I’ve come up with a few suggestions.

Rather than making movies about it being my fault that polar bears are running out of ice chunks to float upon, we get our best government promotional people to approach the heads of those major polluting countries, who depend on America for much of their livelihood, and tell them we’ll be shopping elsewhere if they don’t clean up their act like we plan to do….and mean it.

Back on the home front, we have to know for sure if big oil companies actually do put roadblocks in the way of fossil-fuel-free vehicle development. If the world as we know it is going to end unless something is done to stop CO2 emissions, those companies have to be made to see the big picture or put out of business. How do you do that? I would suggest the government offering a major financial incentive to the first auto manufacturer to successfully develop an affordable electric or hydrogen-powered vehicle that meets public demands both stylistically and from a performance standpoint. I know this sort of thing has been tried before but..hey, Armageddon is coming so the stakes are pretty high this time  It has to be a sizeable prize.  This is still America though..so once the reward is given, the blueprint must be shared with other auto makers and then pollution-free production of all kinds of different cars and trucks can begin in a spirit of competition much as we have now which will not only hold prices down but offer consumers the variety they desire. An added bonus would be sticking it to the Arab oil producing countries who’ve been sticking it to us for a century and been the cause of way too many wars.

Nobody’s going to pay attention to this, of course. We’ll continue to be bombarded with partisan B.S. as if this was a political problem. Environmentalists will continue to group all of us Americans into one big stinking pile of CO2 violators hoping that guilt will convince us that wrapping our water heaters in a blanket is going to make a global warming difference. Maybe, like my friend and former Keloland News colleague, Steve Hemminsen recently wrote, it’s time to stop trying to stop spinning..beginning with the latest terminology.

Climate change is one thing, global warming is another.  Of course we’re having climate change.  We always have climate change.  Lake Hendricks wasn’t here until 10 thousand or so years ago when there was “climate change” and the glaciers melted, probably some cosmic or natural cycle.  Man sure had nothing to do with that one.  Do our  last couple of winters represent global warming?  Hard to make that case.  Do they represent climate change?  Maybe, although a lot of us remember a lot harsher winters and hotter summers in our youth than we’ve had until the last couple of years. 

Linda and I won’t live to see how any of this turns out, I suppose. But our grandkids and their offspring likely will.. and we naturally want them to experience earth’s joys and challenges too.

I only hope the next generation gets their noses out of their phones long enough to figure out ways to make it possible.

 

Give It To Me Strait

Posted: Tuesday, June 10, 2014 at 9:57 am
By: Doug Lund
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Sports Radio guy, Dan Patrick, always asks his listeners to call-in to his show on Mondays with their best and worst of the weekend. The subject should be sports related; I suppose but if I’d have called this might qualify. AT&T stadium, the sports palace Jerry Jones built for his Dallas Cowboys, was filled to absolute capacity Saturday night by just ONE cowboy; a cowboy who plays guitar not football. That would be the best of the weekend. Unfortunately, it would also be my worst because it was the last time that cowboy, George Strait, would ever be seen again on tour.

Sold Out AT&T Stadium

Sold Out AT&T Stadium

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

George Strait walks to stage for the final time.

George Strait walks to stage for the final time.

It’s too bad because country music needs George Strait out there to keep the pop influenced pretenders aware of what is real. So far as I know, George Strait never entered the stage flying on a wire or amid exploding fireworks. He just walked out there wearing his hat, boots and Wrangler blue jeans..strapped on his acoustic guitar and, with a nod to his “Ace in the Hole” band just started singing “Pure Country.”  No flash except for an occasional smile. No stage gymnastics. Just this gifted singer with a knack for interpreting songs that can make you think, laugh even cry standing up there holding the audience under his spell on every note.

I have gone hot and cold on country music over the years; cold on most of the real old stuff where all you needed to get attention was knowing how to play a couple chords on a guitar, a rhinestone suit and the ability to rhyme words like “love-above” “heart-apart” “beers-tears” “truck-luck.” Carrying a tune was optional.

Hot on Buck Owens, Patsy Cline, Charley Rich, Dolly Parton, Glen Campbell, Charlie Pride, Tanya Tucker, Willie Nelson, Johnny Cash and a bunch of others whose sound was and is unique. Merle Haggard never needed electronic harmony dubbing on any of his records.

That’s what has set George Strait apart from the hundreds of empty hats that dominate the country music awards shows these days.

Don’t get me wrong, there are lots of talented people working in the industry; Brad Paisley and Vince Gill come to mind but no one can touch George Strait for long term success; a bona fide country music legend with a legacy that spans forty years of performing..chalking up 60 number 1 singles. Nobody in the history of the music recording business has done that.

I think, besides the wonderful way he sings his songs, the thing people love about George Strait is the way he carries himself..on stage and off. At 62, he hasn’t changed much at all. He’s still fit as a country fiddle, still married to the mother of his children and still uncomfortable talking about himself..much less bragging about his accomplishments.

strait singing

With dozens of musical friends on the rotating stage (a reluctant concession to show biz in order for all 104 thousand people in the building to get a glimpse of him) Strait told the emotional  crowd toward the end of his final concert that he will remember their cheers forever.

I don’t go to concerts (although I can’t wait to spend over 100 bucks for a ticket to see 68 year old Cher appear in that fish net body suit at the Denny Sanford Premier Sioux Falls Events Center next fall) but I would have liked to have been in Dallas for that one last Saturday night just to be a part of history.

Musical history that’s not likely to be repeated.

Ray’s Longest Day

Posted: Friday, May 30, 2014 at 4:12 pm
By: Doug Lund
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ray d day 70th

 

I’ve been watching quite a few of the television documentaries about D-Day over the last few days, with more to come this week, I suppose, as we close-in on the 70th anniversary of the event next Friday June 6th.    Even 88 year old Queen Elizabeth and Prince Phillip, 92, who rarely travel these days,  are taking part in special ceremonies at Normandy commemorating the allied invasion of France during World War II aimed at finally bringing an end to Hitler and his Nazi reign of terror across the world.

We all know the huge numbers of men, ships and equipment needed to pull it off..not to mention coordinating everything down to the last detail without tipping off the enemy.. We also know the enormous cost in human life that would eventually be required for Operation Overlord to succeed.

I’ve mentioned here before about a family member who witnessed the whole thing first hand.

ray closeup

At the age of 35, my uncle, U.S. Army Private  1st Class Raymond Lund, would have been considered the old man of his outfit, Company C. of the 357th infantry.
Most of the soldiers who climbed over the side of their ship and down the rope ladder to waiting landing craft below on D-Day, were 10 to 15 years younger than he was.
I wonder if those scared boys, huddled together in their battle gear, looked to him for reassurance as the diesel-powered Higgins Boat pounded over the waves towards the beaches of Normandy that June 6th morning in 1944.

Was he saying the Lord’s Prayer in Norwegian, like he’d been taught as a child, while German shells exploded all around and bullets from machine guns made a loud clanging noise as they slammed into the still closed ramp?

Was he saying the Lord’s Prayer in Norwegian, like he’d been taught as a child, while German shells exploded all around and bullets from machine guns made a loud clanging noise as they slammed into the still closed ramp?

Uncle Ray survived what’s been called “The Longest Day” only to have his hand nearly blown off in combat a month later.
Ray’s war was over.
After receiving a Purple Heart in a field hospital, he was sent home to spend the next 15 months recuperating from his wounds and be reunited with his pretty young wife of 6 years, Lorraine.

Ray and Lorraine Lund 1945

Ray and Lorraine Lund 1945

But no sooner was he doing better and the war was finally over..there was no time for celebration. Lorraine, the popular owner of the beauty shop in Volga, became ill. She was taken to Rochester in hopes of getting help but she died on December 7th, 1945. One can only imagine the grief my uncle went through but within a few years, Ray met and married Carol. Son, Mike and daughter Renae came along and, and he went about a long career working for the highway department.

ray woundLike so many other veterans of battle, Uncle Ray never talked about the war.  As a kid I couldn’t help but stare at his scarred-up hand with the missing little finger but of course I’d never dared ask details about how it happened.
And now it’s too late.
Ray took his memories and nightmares of Normandy to his grave in 1986. But the reporter in me wasn’t satisfied and so, some time ago, I went searching for answers to so many questions about my quiet, self-effacing uncle and the role he played in the invasion but, like many other World War II vets, his service record was lost in a fire at the National Personnel Records Center in 1973 so, aside from his discharge papers, its been pretty much dead ends.

I do remember asking my dad (Ray’s older brother) about serving in uniform during a war and he almost sounded disappointed that he was too young for the 1st World War and too old for World War II. I wonder if Ray felt that same sense of patriotism; the need to answer your country’s call; a call strong enough for him to enlist at 33 leaving a lovely young wife behind.

I know that each June 6th I think about Uncle Ray and the hundreds of thousands of others who have laid their lives on the line for the United States of America and I am humbled and so very grateful. 

Crazy Horse Redux

Posted: Thursday, May 22, 2014 at 2:45 pm
By: Doug Lund
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Ruth Ziolkowski…the beloved matriarch of the family responsible for carving the Crazy Horse monument out of a Black Hills mountain near Custer, has died just a month shy of her 88th birthday.

ziolkowski ruth alone

She’s being eulogized by people not only in South Dakota but all over the world as an inspiration to millions; a living example to never forget your dreams.   But, believe me, it hasn’t always been that way. More about that in a sec.

I’m not sure why, but 1953 must have been a pretty good year financially for my dad because it was the only year we bought a brand new car; a two tone green Mercury at a dealership in Estelline and I got to go along when he picked it up and drove it home. We also gave it a good breaking- in that following summer with a trip west that included a tour of the Black Hills.

This is about how we looked at the time of our Black Hills trip. I'm on the left, Brother Tom is in the middle and Brother Denny is on the right.

This is about how we looked at the time of our Black Hills trip. I’m on the left, Brother Tom is in the middle and Brother Denny is on the right.

I mention this because it was the first time I’d ever heard of the Crazy Horse Monument..or, more specifically, this crazy “Pollack” (sorry, but that’s what a lot of people called Korczak Ziolkowski)  trying to carve a likeness of the Indian leader who killed Custer out of a mountain located right next to the town that bears Custer’s name.

Well, as best as a kid can remember, we had a fun time in the Hills on  that vacation from Dinosaur Park in Rapid City to Mt. Rushmore to Evan’s Plunge in Hot Springs and while heading back on 385 we spotted a homemade sign pointing to Crazy Horse Carving and dad turned in. I don’t remember how far we drove on the gravel until we came to a turnaround and a small parking area and shelter with a view of “Thunderhead Mountain.”  We were met by a rather plain but attractive young woman with long blonde hair. She was holding a bunch of pamphlets. I remember her distinctly because I had never seen a grown woman without make-up and wearing blue jeans before.

This is the way I remember how Mrs. Z  looked.

This is the way I remember how Mrs. Z looked.

We all looked at this big empty rock of a mountain and listened to her answer my dad’s questions and explain (probably for the zillionth time) why her husband was doing this; something about dreaming big and leaving a legacy for Indians who had their heroes too. I remember seeing the familiar model of the sculpture on display which Korjzak had carved for the tourists to visualize the finished product and then dad asking the inevitable question, “When will it be done?”  Her now famous non-committal reply was frustrating and, when dad tried to pin her down, I’ll never forget her saying “It could be fifty years or more” and all I could think about was how long a time that was to wait and I’d be an old man by then. I don’t recall if dad gave anything when she asked for a donation and I’m sure the brochure is long gone but you’ve got to hand it to that woman’s tenacity and dedication to her husband’s ambition.

This picture was taken five years after we were there. Still a lot of imagination required.

This picture was taken five years after we were there. Still a lot of imagination required.

Can you imagine all those years when the only progress on Crazy Horse people ever noticed was in the size of the Ziolkowski family..eventually growing to ten; five girls and five boys. Oh, there were the occasional explosions on the mountain but most of the activity seemed to be in building roads, museums and stuff for tourists at the monument’s base. All the while, Ruth Ziolkowski, the ever loyal disciple to her husband and his dream has faithfully and cheerfully fielded the same questions from doubters and skeptics and critics who claim it’s all a scam to bilk tourists. She calmly has asked us to be patient, use our imaginations; the image is there it just takes time.  She was determined to follow the last wishes of Korczak who, on his death bed in 1982, said Crazy Horse must be finished but to work slowly to do it right.  Sometimes, though,  even the dreamers must face reality and so it was with Ruth Ziolkowski who knew that if people didn’t start seeing something besides piles of blasted rock on that mountain soon, they’d have to shut the whole operation down and prove the critics right. So she made the wise decision in 1987  to shift focus on the carving from the horses head to the Warrior’s face and before long we didn’t need to use our imagination any longer as  Crazy Horse himself began to appear from deep within the stone.

Mrs. Z in 1987 after making the decision to finish the face first.

Mrs. Z in 1987 after making the decision to finish the face first.

By 1993, the astonishing appearance of Crazy Horse's eyes.

By 1993, the astonishing appearance of Crazy Horse’s eyes.

Face dedication 1998

Face dedication 1998

I’m convinced that exposing Crazy Horse’s face helped save face for the entire Ziolkowski family. Everybody knew they worked incredibly hard but nobody, except for them, really could be sure that the glorious image imagined by Korczak, was really in there until we could all see for ourselves.

Since the dedication in 1998, donations to and interest in the monument have increased considerably but still nobody’s projecting a completion date.  I, like Ruth, likely won’t live to see it but I now have no doubt it will get done eventually.

One of her last interviews was with Keloland News from her hospital bed last month in which she was still talking about daring to dream big.

“I think the memorial is proof that Korczak was right.” she said. ” He thoroughly believed and he taught all of us that nothing is impossible. You can do absolutely anything in this world you want to do if you’re willing to work hard enough and to pay the price.”

RIP Mrs. Z    Pleasant Dreams.

.

XP Exasperation

Posted: Friday, May 16, 2014 at 11:48 am
By: Doug Lund
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windowsXP_end-of-life

Bill Gates, Microsoft founder and gazillionaire: “Hey, Terry, How long have we had Windows XP on line now?”

Terry Myerson, Exec. VP Microsoft Operations: “Well, let’s see, going on 13 years now I guess.”

Gates: “Geeze,  that long? Time to get rid of it don’t ya think?

Myerson: “Well, sir, we tried that with Vista as you recall and that went over like a fart in church so we’ve been counting on Windows 8 to win the public over.”

Gates: “Yeah, so why hasn’t that happened?”

Myerson: “Well, sir, the dadgummed XP still works like a champ. People love it and, as long as we continue to support the operating system, they see no reason to upgrade.”

Gates: “We can’t make money that way, Terry. How do you suggest we convince those satisfied customers into buying our new stuff?”

Myerson: “Well, it’s a little underhanded, sir and I almost hate to use the word.”

Gates: “What word?”

Myerson “Blackmail, sir.” Ya see, we could just stop supporting the XP operating system with anything new and convince customers that in so doing they’ll be vulnerable to all kinds of viruses and malware rendering their beloved computers diseased and useless. The only sure cure is to buy a new computer loaded with Windows 8..or Windows 7.”

So that’s how I, Doug Lund, once proud owner of not one but two Windows XP computers; a desktop purchased in 2005 and a laptop given as a gift upon retirement in 2006..have been forced into a technology filled room I had no need or desire to enter.

After considerable pondering and advice seeking, I finally decided to make the easiest transition and, after not finding one for sale anywhere in town, I ordered a new HP Windows 7 laptop from Amazon. (I tried to buy locally folks but even the stores are only carrying Windows 8)

I didn’t have a choice really. My old laptop, in fact, did contract a virus on the final day of our Texas trip at a Super 8 Motel in Perry, Oklahoma. It’s been sitting in the Keloland I.T.’s office since we got back and I began the search for a replacement. I’ve been assured that Adam will be able to retrieve my old data but that’s about it. That old HP has been mighty good to me..faithfully uploading blogs, photos and audio files from all over the world. She deserves better than what is likely to happen; removal of her hard drive which is then smashed to smithereens with a hammer so nobody can ever retrieve credit card numbers or other personal stuff and then unceremoniously dropped off at the hazardous waste disposal site.

So, I’ve been a long time without a laptop and must admit to being anxious for my new one to arrive on Thursday.  Thanks to the same technology that I discounted earlier I was able to track my UPS shipment to within an hour of its delivery. So, there I was sitting on the front porch rocker looking up and down the street very much like little Ronnie Howard in that wonderful scene from The Music Man where he excitedly waits for the Wells Fargo Wagon to bring his new coronet.

YouTube Preview Image

Well, sure enough, right on time the big brown truck came rolling down our street..and then rolled right passed our house; stopping to make a delivery at the neighbor’s.  But, it was only a tease because the lady made a yooee and came back my way with a package and a grin.

I just found out that Microsoft is going to begin procedures to stop support of Windows 7 in January of next year. I think I may have been re-Gatesed.

I just found out that Microsoft is going to begin procedures to stop support of Windows 7 in January of next year. I think I may have been re-Gatesed.

I had my brand new $650 HP Windows 7 up and running in short order and I must say that I absolutely lo….I really li…it’s just wonde….It’s okay.

I’ll get used to it.. I guess.

Worm Food For Thought

Posted: Tuesday, May 6, 2014 at 12:15 pm
By: Doug Lund
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Did you ever think when the hearse rolls by

That  you might be the next one to die?

They wrap you up in a clean white sheet

And bury you down about six feet deep.

The worms crawl in the worms crawl out

The worms play pinochle on your snout.

They eat your clothes they eat your hat

They crawl in skinny and crawl out fat

The last time I sang that song was when I was about 12 or 13 years old sitting around an evening bonfire at Boy Scout camp. We all laughed at the words just like we all pretended to be scared when the counselor, with a flashlight held under his chin, told the obligatory ghost story in the glow of the fading campfire. Oh, I admit I may have jumped a little when he looked at me and screamed “You stole my golden arm!”  And, maybe I did have a little trouble falling asleep in our tent that night thinking about worms crawling in and out and ghosts looking for missing limbs. But isn’t that what scout camp is all about..to make men out of little boys by scaring the snot out of them?

I was reminded of that experience recently when my cousin Grouse and I were sitting around having a couple glasses of his favorite boxed wine. Somehow the conversation turned kinda morbid..important but morbid. “Have you decided where you’re going to be buried when you die?” I asked.

“Of course, he said, the cemetery in Volga. Haven’t you and Linda made arrangements for a plot someplace?   “No. The few times we’ve talked about it ended in kind of a standoff  followed by silence.” My brother is talking about being cremated.  I’ve spent my whole life hoping to avoid the burning fires of Hell..I certainly don’t want the funeral director to jump start the process. This chardonnay in a box isn’t half bad..what vintage is it?”  “The middle of last month,” Grouse said with a laugh. “I dunno, he said, maybe being cremated isn’t a bad idea. Better than being planted like a petunia. Those caskets eventually leak..you know and then you’re nothing but a feast for the night crawlers.”

“I was thinking about being buried above   ground in a mausoleum like they have over at Hills of Rest. That’s what our friend Alona plans to do.”I said.

“Yeah, but isn’t that awfully expensive?” said my cousin as he headed back to the refrigerator to unscrew the dispenser on the bladder of wine inside.

“I suppose so, I would just rather not have to think about any of this stuff, you know?”

“Well, said Grouse, you don’t what to leave these tough eternal decisions for your kids to have to figure out do you?”

“No, I guess not.”

“If  I were you, he said with the confidence that only a fine boxed white wine can provide, I’d get it done as soon as possible and  have it over with. Oh, and be sure to include that decision in your will.”

“Will??”

Helen Kogel’s Secret War

Posted: Sunday, April 27, 2014 at 1:59 pm
By: Doug Lund
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Imagine Moses tapping you on the shoulder saying to follow him up Mount Sinai and bring along your hammer and chisel because he has a really important job requiring your engraving skills. This is Moses, for Heaven’s sake, so you obey without question and soon find yourself involved in the most important, history changing, event the world has ever known and when it’s over, Moses says to you, “Now don’t ever tell anyone that you had a hand in chipping out these tablets of stone.. understand?”

Okay, that’s a little far fetched but it’s not far from the experience of a young female U.S. Army corporal from Woonsocket, South Dakota who just happened to find herself on the staff of General Dwight D. Eisenhower, Supreme Commander of Allied Forces during World War II, when plans were being made for the D Day invasion in 1944.

helen young in uniform

Helen Kogel grew up with five brothers and two sisters on the farm homesteaded by her grandfather near Woonsocket. She loved and respected her family but she also wanted more for herself than to be a farm wife so after high school, she went to business college..then, in part because eligible men were kinda scarce due to the war, she and a friend decided to join the WAC’s (Woman’s Army Corps). After basic training, her superiors soon recognized Helen’s skills and, after a stint as a recruiter, she volunteered and was selected to serve on General Eisenhower’s staff in London working as a secretary-typist. After a four day ocean voyage aboard the Queen Mary, she arrived in England during the height of the blitz..set up in a hotel room with a few other girls ..then taken to a secret location where for the next two months she sat in a closed room up to nine hours a day typing Ike’s orders for “Operation Overlord”…the detailed plans for the invasion of Normandy (D-Day.) and the liberation of Europe.

Ike and his generals going over plans for the invasion. Plans likely typed up by Corporal Helen Kogel of Woonsocket, South Dakota

Ike and his generals going over plans for the invasion. Plans likely typed up by Corporal Helen Kogel of Woonsocket, South Dakota

She’d been ordered to forget everything she typed but that, of course, was impossible. Instead, she concentrated on doing her work absolutely mistake-free to avoid slow-downs. At the end of each session, a Military Policeman would gather up all carbon copies and typewriter ribbons and toss them in the burning fireplace..then escort all of the female staffers back to their hotel on Barclay Square where they’d try to sleep. A difficult proposition as V2 German buzz bombs exploded around the city leaving them to wonder if the next one might have their name on it.

During those eight weeks, Corporal Kogel had seen and saluted the General many times but never met or spoken to him. That all changed when finally the invasion transcribing was complete and she was invited to hand the papers over to Ike in person. He asked, “Corporal do you know what you’ve typed here?” She said, “Yes sir. These are the battle plans that you will use for the invasion of France.” He stressed the importance of secrecy and then did something that caught Helen totally off guard. He said, “You have a brother, Jerry, over here don’t you?” “Yes,” she said. “I haven’t seen him in three years.” That’s when he produced a weekend pass and told her to go and visit him.  (Jerry Kogel survived the war serving with General George Patton’s Tank Corps.)

Although it was dangerous to venture out in London, Helen and 14 others did take a tour of Windsor Castle and while exploring the portrait room… in walks King George VI along with the queen and princess daughters, Elizabeth and Margaret. Seeing Kogel in uniform the king approached her and asked her name and what she did. The 23 year old girl from Woonsocket, South Dakota later said didn’t know whether to genuflect, bow or kiss his ring..instead she just shook his hand and identified herself saying she served on General Eisenhower’s staff. The king then gestured to his eldest daughter and asked if she knew her. He said Elizabeth is going to be driving some of your officers around. Helen looked at the future Queen of England and said, “Oh, I hope to see you around some time.”

The royal family and British Prime Minister during World War II

The royal family and British Prime Minister during World War II

Not long afterward, the group stopped at Number 10 Downing Street and were surprised when the housekeeper invited the tour group in for tea. Before long, the living room door opened and in walked the British Prime Minister who grabbed a beverage and scone then left without saying a word. Later when Helen wrote her mother about the experience she couldn’t help but tease how she had tea and scones with Winston Churchill.

She knew the number of  ships, planes, weapons, personnel and major objectives. She even knew the allied plan to fool the Nazi’s by taking the long way across the channel.  The only thing Cpl. Helen Kogel didn’t know about the invasion was the exact date it would happen and didn’t find out until she heard the roar of planes overhead flying east in the early morning hours of June 6th, 1944.  Even after it was obvious the invasion was underway, Helen never breathed a word about her role in it to anyone including her fellow WAC’s on staff. They were all sworn to secrecy and that was that.

General Eisenhower wanted to move his headquarters to France as soon as possible so Helen needed to send a  telegram home to let her family know she’d soon have a new address; Paris! That’s when her luck dodging buzz bombs ran out. One struck the telegraph office. She woke up covered in dust and glass being  shaken by someone telling her she’d be okay. Years later, Helen told an interviewer that she still had nightmares about that day; hearing the V-1 whistling above..then going quiet and the explosion which followed. “I was lucky to have gotten out alive,” she remembered.

The move to France was on the exact same route as so many thousands of others had made weeks earlier but without the bullets and bombs. Cpl. Kogel and her 29 female colleagues crossed the English Channel aboard a Navy transport ship then had to climb down a rope ladder into a landing craft which took them as close as possible to Utah beach then dropped the ramp requiring everyone to wade ashore in waist high water.

Sgt. Noel Denton whom Helen met and fell in love with on Utah beach.

Sgt. Noel Denton whom Helen met and fell in love with on Utah beach.

It was while waiting in the mess line along the beach..still dripping wet..that she met her future husband, Sergeant, Noel Denton, who offered to retrieve the WAC’s personal bags. With the sound of battle in the background, Helen and the staff spent 6 weeks camped on that beach in a special holding area; sneaking a few moments with Noel at every opportunity. Finally Paris was liberated and Cpl. Kogel rejoined the General’s staff and remained there until the end of the war.

Helen had promised her father that she wouldn’t get married while in the service so, after Noel was also discharged and had been rehired to his former job with Southern Bell in Atlanta, he made tracks for South Dakota to ask for Helen’s hand. The two were married in the Woonsocket Catholic Church; a marriage that lasted 36 happy years until Noel’s untimely death of a heart attack in 1982.

Helen in later life surrounded by images of her past. In spite of tragedies, one of her favorite sayings was "I'm a very lucky woman..a very lucky woman."

Helen in later life surrounded by images of her past. In spite of tragedies, one of her favorite sayings was “I’m a very lucky woman..a very lucky woman.”

In all that time. Helen never told a single sole including her beloved Noel about her contribution to history during the war.

To deal with..not only Noel’s passing..but the accidental death of their adopted son, Jon, a few months earlier, Helen immersed herself in volunteer work receiving countless honors and awards for her efforts with the Red Cross, March of Dimes, United Way and just about any organization that needed someone to get a job done. That included serving for many years as both post and district commander of the Riverdale Georgia Chapter of the Veterans of Foreign Wars.

But, it wasn’t until the 50th anniversary of D-Day in 1994 when a friend asked if any women were involved in the invasion, that Helen finally broke her silence. When the friend heard her amazing story she couldn’t wait to call the local TV station and from that day until Helen’s passing last December in Fayetteville, Georgia at the age of 91, she spoke to hundreds  of groups from school kids to veterans and gave dozens of media interviews leaving everyone a bit slack jawed not only for the vital role she played in Operation Overlord but in keeping mum about it for a half century.

Corporal Helen Kogel was one of thousands of U.S. Military personnel to march in Paris on Victory in Europe Day.

Corporal Helen Kogel was one of thousands of U.S. Military personnel to march in Paris on Victory in Europe Day.

October 05.indd

 

I managed to get in touch with Helen’s nephew, David Kogel who still lives in Woonsocket. I was curious if his aunt was actually that good at keeping secrets. “Oh, Yeah,” David told me. “None of us heard about it until 1994 and we were all amazed.”

David Kogel  Helen's nephew.

David Kogel Helen’s nephew.

David says he’s not surprised that Helen would join the WAC’s adding that five of the Kogel siblings were in the service at the same time. “Patriotism runs pretty deep in our family, I guess” he said. And that includes David himself who served in the Army infantry during the thick of it in Vietnam. He’s a long time member of the Woonsocket Post 29 and, like his aunt Helen, has served in a number of elected positions including post commander. Also like her, David Kogel works tirelessly volunteering on behalf of veterans and other causes including the American Cancer Society.

“Any idea why Helen kept her secret well beyond what anyone would consider a reasonable time?” I asked. “Well, she said she was afraid that the FBI might still be keeping tabs on her and could end up throwing her in jail,” David laughed.

I’m sure glad she finally got over that fear.     Me too.

Helen gets special recognition from President Obama at the National VFW convention in Phoenix.

Helen gets special recognition from President Obama at the National VFW convention in Phoenix.

helen obama kiss

 

 

 

 

Headin’ Down The Trail For Home

Posted: Monday, April 14, 2014 at 11:29 pm
By: Doug Lund
8 Comments | Trackback Bookmark and Share

Greetings from the Lone Star state as the wandering foursome wind down their two week “swang” through Texas with a night on the town in Austin and a stop at Donn’s Depot to hear fellow South Dakotan, Chris Gage perform on stage. UPDATE: Great evening, Chris sounded fantastic. He even did a couple old Red Willow Band songs for us.)

Below is Texas Motor Speedway, where we were heading off to in the rain last time I blogged. It was so magnificent, we went there twice.

Cold and rainy..waiting for the thumbs up or down on the race.

Cold and rainy..waiting for the thumbs up or down on the race.

 

An optimistic selfie from our seats at the fourth turn.

An optimistic selfie from our seats at the fourth turn.

After sitting in the stands for about three hours, watching track dryers fail to get the job done, we all got word that the race was postponed till Monday. So, after inching our way back to the motel in a world class traffic jam, we returned the next day for the actual race.

That's Joanie's hand waving for her favorite driver Tony Stewart who led early but faded to tenth.

That’s Joanie’s hand waving for her favorite driver Tony Stewart who led early but faded to tenth.

 

It turned out to be a nice day for racing Monday.

It turned out to be a nice day for racing Monday.

We all agreed it was a great experience but really kind of a boring because there wasn’t much action.  The day was soured too by the huge traffic jam that followed. Trying to inch our way through agonizingly slow traffic to our motel in Waco was so frustrating that we finally just had to laugh.

We made up for it the next day on a toll road to San Antonio where the speed limit was 85 which, of course, means 90. So we really loosened Big Red’s reins and arrived in short order to our beautiful hotel..The DruryPlaza..right on the famous Riverwalk.

The view from our suite

The view from our suite

 

What a suite bunch.

What a suite bunch.

It was built as the Alamo National Bank in the Art Deco era and beautifully restored into the hotel.

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The weather was spectacular; perfect for a riverboat cruise.

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The tower built for the 1968 worlds fair as seen from the river boat.

The tower built for the 1968 worlds fair as seen from the river boat.

Just a lovely view. In fact our room had a painting of this very vista.

Just a lovely view. In fact our room had a painting of this very vista.

 

A fellow passenger volunteered to take our picture.

A fellow passenger volunteered to take our picture.

Those familiar with Drury Inns know that guests receive three free cocktails daily as well as a huge hot buffet during happy hour and for breakfast.

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We made sure to take advantage in order to justify the room rates which were a bit spendy  but with four of us in one suite it wasn’t too bad if you don’t mind the noise. I didn’t notice it but others mentioned I might have snored slightly.

Speaking of spendy, Linda and I decided to splurge for dinner one evening and found a place right downtown called The Palms. It’s just what Linda wanted; an outside table, a delicious Texas steak and red wine. Perfection.

Texas trip Linda steak dinner

The  filet looks a little rare to my liking but it tasted great. Heck, I even tried muscles on this trip.I

The filet looks a little rare to my liking but it tasted great. Heck, I even tried mussels on this trip.

We figured that walking is over rated so we boarded the double decker bus with hop on hop off privileges and took the San Antonio City tour. Great fun. Well, take a look.

First stop was the old market where Joanie and Denny tried on hats.

First stop was the old market where Joanie and Denny tried on hats.

 

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Drinks at La Margarita came with entertainment. At a price, of course.

Drinks at La Margarita came with entertainment. At a price, of course.

 

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Seeing the Alamo tucked in among all the big buildings comes as kind of a shock to some.

Linda has 7 brothers and sisters..three of whom live in the Austin area..so we’ve been making sure they don’t have a chance to escape seeing us. Our first stop was in Lyndon B. Johnson’s backyard; Horseshoe Bay, Texas. A man made lake near MarbleFalls that uses water from the Colorado River to power generators at a few dams and provides lots and lots of incredible water side real estate for filthy rich oil barons.     Tom and Cynthia Tucker (Cyn is Linda’s sister) are residents but are also the exception. They live on pensions from careers in electronics and nursing not big oil.

Tom and Cynthia's patio view. Spent a lot of time chatting and imbibing here.

Tom and Cynthia’s patio view. Spent a lot of time chatting and imbibing here.

They don’t live directly on the water but do have a pontoon boat docked at the Marina which Captain Tucker took us aboard for a memorable ride around the huge man made lake for a look-see at all the high falootin mega million dollar homes bought and paid for every time you fill ‘er up at the gas pump.

Captain Tom Tucker at the helm appears to have been caught in mid yawn but I think he's just providing informative narration to  his South Dakota passengers.

Captain Tom Tucker at the helm appears to have been caught in mid yawn but I think he’s just providing informative narration to his South Dakota passengers.

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(                                             That’s Cynthia on the left and Joanie on the right.)

 

We docked across the lake where Linda's brother Chad and his wife Lisa have a home.  We were joined for cocktails by Linda's other sister, Shelle and      nephew, Jordon. Just a  terrific afternoon.

We docked across the lake where Linda’s brother Chad and his wife Lisa have a home. We were joined for cocktails by Linda’s other sister, Shelle and nephew, Jordon. Just a terrific afternoon.

 

Chad and Boz with Chad's wife Lisa in the background.

Chad and Boz with Chad’s wife Lisa in the background.

So far, Big Red..our 14 year old Lincoln has performed admirably. We did have a gearshift lever issue which was quickly repaired at no charge by one of Tom’s buddies.

There was sad news during our journey when we learned of my cousin Bob Gruseth’s passing from Alzheimer’s complications. He was a good man who, for some reason known only to his maker, was robbed of so much..but not all..of the personality that made him special. He’ll be missed.

I hope you have good friends and family in your life that are always glad to see you come, spend a little time, eat, drink and be merry who will shed a tear when you drive off into the sunset.

texas trip packing big red s.f.

Being welcome and being missed. What better legacy could you ask for?

 

 

Stormin’ Texas

Posted: Sunday, April 6, 2014 at 10:15 am
By: Doug Lund
4 Comments | Trackback Bookmark and Share

 

Girls in the backseat..boys in the front. We're old but the refrain from the rear is the same as childhood:  "Are we there yet?"

Girls in the backseat..boys in the front. We’re old but the refrain from the rear is the same as childhood: “Are we there yet?”

I have to admit, it was with a bit of snickering smugness that the four of us breezed out of Sioux Falls on Thursday rejoicing in our good fortune at having beat the big blizzard by a matter of hours as we pointed Big Red south where they actually know how to do spring right with warm temperatures, gentle breezes and air perfumed with the aroma of blooming azaleas and bluebonnets.We drove through rain and chilly conditions through Nebraska and Kansas..had a brief spurt of the 70’s in Missouri but before we could get out of the car to appreciate the warmth..we were in Oklahoma on the heels of a cold front and we haven’t seen sixty degrees since.

Anybody else wanna drive??? (sound of crickets chirping)

Anybody else wanna drive??? (sound of crickets chirping)

Denny, Joanie, Linda and I are not only sharing close quarters in our big car but, for the first time in our many travels, we’re sharing a big room together too. It wasn’t really part of the plan but it turns out that when our friend, Chad Fredericksen, (Mitchell native who lives in Dallas) offered to book our hotel..the pickin’s were slimmer than anticipated because not only is the big NASCAR race in the area..but so is the Final Four at Jerry Jones shrine stadium but also a huge music festival going on in Downtown Dallas so we were glad to have any place to rest our weary heads.  We’ve always bragged about how close our relationship has become over the years. So far, we have determined that none of us can claim we do not snore and, we’re not afraid to kick somebody out of the bathroom if they’re getting in the way of an emergency evacuation.

As I write this, it’s Sunday morning. It’s raining here in the Dallas area jeopardizing one of the main reasons for making this trip: The Duck Commander 500 Nascar race at Texas Motor Speedway. I’m going to finish up here with a few photos of our journey so far and then take advantage an opening and take a shower before we make the 20 mile drive over to the track, find our seats in the grandstand, then sit there like a bunch of slugs in the cold  (48 degrees) drinking 8 dollar beer watching the sputtering skies and rooting for the fastest blow dryer trucks; the only vehicles making circles on the speedway. I’ll let you know how things turn out. So far, there’s only been a smattering of sarcasm, self pity and swearing because of our situation; mostly from Joanie and me. Denny and Linda are more “make-the-best-of-it-personalities.”

Well, the first thing ya know ol Jed's a millionaire.

Well, the first thing ya know ol Jed’s a millionaire.

We roll into Dallas in Sunshine and meet up with our hose, Chad and his kids, Hadley and Hoden at the golf course.

We roll into Dallas in Sunshine and meet up with our host, Chad and his kids, Hadlee and Holden at the golf course.

A little chilly but, hey, we're enjoying a grown up beverage outside.

A little chilly but, hey, we’re enjoying a grown up beverage outside.
Chad and his lovely wife, Julie, have a beautiful home along a golf course.  Julie is from Texas, Chad's folks..you might know..have Chef Louie's in Mitchell for years.

Chad and his lovely wife, Julie, have a beautiful home along a golf course. Julie is from Texas, Chad’s folks..you might know..have Chef Louie’s in Mitchell for years.

I didn't get a picture but right inside the front door is a music room that contains a 1911 Steinway concert grand piano. It made my version of chopsticks sound spectacular!
I didn’t get a picture but right inside the front door is a music room that contains a 1911 Steinway concert grand piano. It made my version of chopsticks sound spectacular!

Chad took us sightseeing on Friday to all the usual sights in the area with lots of food stops including a fabulous pizza lunch at Grimaldis. Baked in coal fired ovens. Delicious.

Chad took us sightseeing on Friday to all the usual sights in the area with lots of food stops including a fabulous pizza lunch at Grimaldis. Baked in coal fired ovens. Delicious.

Holden took a shine to us all which, according to his parents, is rare so we're flattered.

Holden took a shine to us all which, according to his parents, is rare so we’re flattered.

Hadlee especially bonded with Linda.

Hadlee especially bonded with Linda.

 

Hadlee went to a Wizard of Oz birthday party in a pair of the most realistic pair of ruby slippers I've ever seen.

Hadlee went to a Wizard of Oz birthday party in a pair of the most realistic pair of ruby slippers I’ve ever seen.

If the pizza was a little slice of heaven for the rest of us, a stop at the Cheesecake Factory for dessert was like having a personal conversation with God.

If the pizza was a little slice of heaven for the rest of us, a stop at the Cheesecake Factory for dessert was like having a personal conversation with God for Joanie.

Headed over to Ft. Worth for a taste of the Ol' West. Tried to get Linda to mount a longhorn for a photo op...she refused.

Headed over to Ft. Worth for a taste of the Ol’ West. Tried to get Linda to mount a longhorn for a photo op…she refused.

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Whether or not the sun may shine..there’s always solice in good friends and wine.

 

 

 

The Aroma Of Easter

Posted: Wednesday, April 2, 2014 at 8:46 am
By: Doug Lund
4 Comments | Trackback Bookmark and Share

In anticipation of our upcoming road trip to Texas, I’ve made a sizeable investment in Big Red. (For those new to Lund at Large, Big Red is our 14 year old Lincoln that is crowding 200 thousand miles but still looks and runs fine. Well..sorta.) For years, Big Red has growled at us for no reason. Just walk by the car parked in the garage and Red will let out a deep grrrrrrrr sound. We eventually got used to it and found the element of surprise for passengers to be quite entertaining. I eventually figured out the noise was coming from an air compressor recharging the air assisted rear shock absorbers which help give Lincolns that fabulous ride. But lately, Red was growling constantly so after a little investigation on the interweb, it was clear that the airbags had sprung a leak and needed replacing to the tune of about 600 dollars. That plus some service work to the engine and cooling system and, well, we should be set for another 100 thousand miles or more.

Anyway, I’ll offer up a couple blogs from our road trip including the NASCAR race and San Antonio’s River Walk and Alamo. I’ll wait until we get home to post the promised story of a Woonsocket, South Dakota farm girl I found out about who became a corporal in the Army during World War II and played a significant role in the D-Day invasion.

In the meantime, I’ve been going through the Lund archives to re-share a favorite memory from Easters past.

eggs

My mom, bless her soul, used to boil up a couple dozen eggs and, after they’d cooled, let her three boys dip them into dishes filled with food coloring.  Then we were told the Easter Bunny would be stopping by sometime during the night to hide them for us to find on Easter morning.
I don’t ever remember seeing that rabbit but he must have been a fair-weather hare because he always opted to conceal the eggs INSIDE our home.
I don’t think my brothers and I ever really bought into the whole Easter Bunny thing. We had enough on our minds trying to figure out the Holy Trinity much less a connection between Jesus’ resurrection…chicken eggs and a rabbit.
Anyway, we played along and on Sunday morning, mom would say, “Time for you boys to get up now and find where those eggs are.”
After a couple years of this, we knew most of the hiding spots:  behind the mantle clock, above the kitchen stove (two were usually there) in the fern plant, behind the telephone, under the doily on the folk’s nightstand etc.
Once we’d gathered them up, Mom would make sure all the eggs were accounted for then we’d get ready for church. (The Easter bunny must have filled her in on the correct number)
One year, though, mom became concerned because the totals didn’t add up. One egg was still missing.
We looked and looked; even Dad joined in the search but no luck.
Eventually, we concluded that the count must have been wrong and we soon forgot all about it.

By the time the month of May rolled around, though, it was hard not to notice a foul aroma coming from the bathroom area. We just blamed Dad at first but it kept getting worse even when the old man hadn’t been home for hours.
Finally, Mom had had enough and said we were going to find the source of that stink if takes all day. So, all five of us wound up walking around the house sniffing the air like a pack of bloodhounds.
Eventually, one of us zeroed-in on the floor lamp by the bathroom hallway.
Sure enough, when the light was turned on the silhouette of an oval-shaped object was clearly visible in the globe.
It was the missing Easter egg that had been fermenting to a nose-curling stench for over a month.

Mom grabbed a section of  newspaper, snatched up the offensive smelling orb and took it directly out to the trash barrel in the alley.
“How come the Easter Bunny didn’t tell you where he hid that last one?” we asked her with a laugh.
“If you think it’s so funny, she said, just wait until next Easter when he doesn’t show up at all.”
Come to think of it that WAS the last time…for us anyway.
He didn’t return until our own children got to spend Easter at Grandma’s house.
After the hunt, though, Mom always made sure to double check the hall lamp.