High Anxiety

Posted: Tuesday, January 6, 2015 at 2:48 pm
By: Doug Lund

Unlike some people who vacation in warm climates while their dear friends and family are left to endure the rigors of a particularly evil period of cold and wind-driven snow that stings the cheeks and freezes snot, I was brought up not to gloat.

So, during this month of January as Linda and I return to our Fountain Hills, Arizona rental for the first time in a couple years, there will be nothing but guilt feelings conveyed here in, what I hope will be, more frequent blogging about life among the cactuses. (Cacti?)

Okay, maybe just one shot of snowy 4 Peaks..the view from Fountain Hills the day we arrived.


four peaks with snow 006

First, a little about how we got here.

It was time to give Big Red, our 15 year old Town Car with 170 K, a rest. In spite of that, I  have no doubt the old girl was up to the challenge, but the thought of a two and a half day drive out here through weather that can be..and usually is..dubious at times, we decided to exercise the Allegiant Airlines option. The decision was finalized when our desert daughter, Christy, bought a second car and agreed to let us use it while here. Deal done.

I spent a little extra for Exit Row seats for the leg room and for an extra suit case. (pretty hard to cram a month’s worth of stuff into just two checked bags.)  In spite of Allegiant horror stories including regular delays, our flight took off about on time and was uneventful for two of the two and a half hours. That’s when a child a few seats ahead began to perpetuate the stereotype of what defines “terrible twos.”  We could not see him but everyone within the confines of that enclosed aluminum tube could hear him for the final 30 minutes. It began with some whimpering as soon as the pilot started reducing altitude. At first, you could sense the sympathy from everyone, including me, as the mother tried to sooth her toddler who seemed to be reacting unfavorably to a pain in the ears that weren’t popping properly as we got lower. Ahhhh. Poor baby, we thought.

Then, efforts to console the little fellow were being rejected more loudly..and, in our mind’s eye, more violently, as each non stop ear piercing scream was punctuated with a “NO”. But then it became clearer that his ears were fine..he was just angry…really angry.

Anyone who flies knows that it seems to take forever to land once the captain throttles back..but on this trip, a half hour felt like an eternity..especially after I lost all feelings of concern for that kid and began imagining all sorts of ways I’d like to shut him up. Shameful things that I’m not proud of but could tell others around me were fanaticizing about too. Now, don’t get me wrong, I love kids and know they get out of sorts especially when they’re strapped in against their will. I would never do or say anything. But I did find it necessary to jam my forefingers in my ears to maintain sanity until the wheels screeched on the runway and we rolled to a stop at our gate. I finally got a look at the little rascal when he and his mother got up to exit. He was banging an empty plastic pop bottle on his grandpa’s head and getting mad all over again when told to stop. Dear little angel.

There are lots of things going on out here in the Phoenix area during January..including the Barrett-Jackson Classic Car Auction which this year will feature the Ron Pratte collection of cars which is one of the world’s finest..many purchased by Pratte at previous Barrett-Jackson sales for big big money. Even though the event has gotten huge, I decided to apply for media credentials to cover it for my blog and..to my surprise, received them. So, I hope to get out there to take some pictures and write a few words for you.

The Phoenix Open golf tournament is at the end of the month and, of course Phoenix hosts the Superbowl. But that won’t happen until after we head home…hopefully on a flight where all the children are contented little darlings.

One of our favorite hangouts out here is the “Rusty Spur” in Old Scottsdale. They always have live music and have added some interesting bar stools that Linda was more than happy to model. The image has been quite a hit on Facebook.

Ta Ta for now.

4 peaks linda bar stool

Goodbye Mrs. Schultz

Posted: Monday, December 29, 2014 at 3:53 pm
By: Doug Lund

One of my favorite TV programs, CBS Sunday Morning with Charles Osgood, must have spent a third of Sunday’s show acknowledging the passing of important people in the year 2014.

Bernice Schultz was not among them although to my mind she should have been.

Mrs. Schultz died at her home in Winter Park, Florida a week before Christmas. She’d made it to age 96.

I’m guessing that nearly everyone who’s enjoyed a smidgen of success in life,  had a special school teacher to thank for helping them turn a critical corner and make some key life decisions. For me, that teacher was Mrs. Schultz.

Bernice Schultz teacher extraordinaire 1962

Bernice Schultz teacher extraordinaire 1962

I had a bad case of insecurity when entering high school in 1961. First off, I was fat. Second off, my older brother, Denny, who had graduated the year before, had set quite a precedent for me to follow; not athletically or scholastically but by being one of the popular “cool” kids who not only had the greatest duck butt haircut but also the uncanny ability, with his quick wit, to charm teachers and fellow students into liking him. (He would have been a state champion debater if he’d only joined the club.) And, third off, I was convinced that nobody understood or appreciated me..except for my cousin Grouse (Lawrence Gruseth) who had his own set of challenges.

I was pretty tall and knew how to play sports but was so self conscious about the possibility that  coach Harry Prendergast would have me be part of the “skins” team during basketball practice, I never went out for the team in High School. Because of my size, he also wanted me to try out to play center on the football team. I didn’t dare tell him about my claustrophobia and the thought of how being at the bottom of a pile of guys would kill me. One day when it was raining hard, I didn’t show up for practice and was kicked off the squad. Humiliation..but no tears from me.

So, there I was with only Grouse to share my thoughts and dreams with about being a rock and roll or broadcasting star.

Grouse (Lawrence Gruseth) and me providing entertainment for the school Christmas party in the Volga High School Gym 1961.

Grouse (Lawrence Gruseth) and me providing entertainment for the school Christmas party in the Volga High School Gym 1961.

We wanted the same exact things he and I..but in that year of 1961, life really went haywire when throat cancer first took the voice and then the life of Grouse’s Mom..my aunt.. Esther. Grouse, his dad and brother were absolutely lost without her and until they got a housekeeper a year or so later, needed all the help they could get. More on that in a minute.

It was clear from the first moment I stepped into Mrs. Schultz’s English class that she wasn’t like any teacher I’d had. She made it clear right off the bat that we weren’t kids anymore and she wasn’t about to treat us like it; Learn or burn..it was up to us.bea 005

This stuff is going to be important in our lives and it’s her job to get it through our thick skulls.  She knew all about the English language, including some of its more colorful words which she wasn’t afraid to use in order to emphasize  a point when the situation warranted. But if anybody needed help, she’d make time to see you got it.

Toward the end of that first year she had me stay after class one day for a chat. “Doug, I don’t know why you can’t seem to get the grammar part of the curriculum but your writing is not bad.  I want you to take journalism classes next year and I’d like you to work on the school paper..okay?”   Well, she knew I’d probably never figure out how to diagram  a sentence or know a predicate from a dangling participle but that day gave me a boatload of confidence. Over the next three years, she was my go-to source for advice on just about everything..be it English, Journalism or life in general.  I’m also quite sure she was the one who put a bug in the ear of Kenneth Joy about casting me in the one act play he was directing for which I won best actor in the regional contest. I’ve since learned she made dozens..perhaps hundreds of other students feel just as special..but at the time it felt like just me….oh, and cousin Grouse.

That's me wearing the black shirt at the typewriter with Mrs. Schultz over my shoulder. Cousin Grouse is typing at the right.

That’s me wearing the black shirt at the typewriter with Mrs. Schultz over my shoulder. Cousin Grouse is typing at the right.

I asked if he’d write a few lines about his experience at a most critical time:

After mom died, Mrs. Schultz took a lot of interest in my well being. For some reason she became worried about my shoes being worn down on the heel…She evidently thought that I had a plethora of writing talent, so she took it upon herself to get me an after school and Saturday job with Pat Leary at the Volga Tribune.  That evolved into a full time summer job with plenty of time off for rock and roll jobs.  For SDSU journalism-printing students spending a quarter term at the Shotgun was the equivalent of an internship.  This meant that I was in contact with just about every journalism student to graduate from SDSU from ’62 thru 68.  So, after I got married and decided that I’d better get a degree, journalism was the most prudent choice of majors.  Broadcast journalism was new at SDSU and sounded much more exciting than print…so that’s the direction I chose.  We ran out of money after my junior year so I applied for a job in continuity at KELO….got it and started writing commercials and booth announcing.  After a couple years, we returned to SDSU, finished the coursework and went to KSOO-TV.  In short, if Mrs. Schultz had not taken an interest in me as a person and gone out of her way to get me that little job at the Volga Tribune only the good Lord knows what would have become of me.

 

Because Mrs. Schultz had inspired us both in the field of journalism, Grouse and I were the natural choices to portray Chet Huntly and David Brinkley in reading the class prophecy during the Junior Senior Class banquet.

Because Mrs. Schultz had inspired us both in the field of journalism, Grouse and I were the natural choices to portray Chet Huntly and David Brinkley in reading the class prophecy during the Junior Senior Class banquet. Wh0 could have imagined it would be the first of thousands of scripts that would pass through our hands.

Mrs. Schultz and her late husband, Glenn, were instrumental in reorganizing Volga High School into the current Sioux Valley High School District;  consolidating Volga, Bruce and Sinai. She stayed on at Volga until age 70 and then embarked on a snowbird lifestyle full of travel adventures eventually settling in Florida with her daughter Patti.

A lot of times, former students don’t get a chance to tell teachers how much of a positive influence they had on their lives. That’s not the case, though, with me and Mrs. Schultz. Ooops, Mrs. Schultz and “I”..no wait, Mrs. Schultz and “me.” Oh, hell.

30 years ago, for some odd reason, the principal asked me to be commencement speaker at my  alma mater. Not only was my mom in the audience but so was Mrs. Schultz. I made sure to share the above stories at that time and on other occasions when our paths crossed over the years. She never failed to enjoy taking full credit with her usual gap toothed grin followed by a hearty laugh.

I was hoping to write a few words on the Funeral Home obituary web site..but it turns out..she apparently didn’t have a funeral in Winter Park..just went directly to the crematory.

That sounds like Mrs. Schultz. “Do your best work..then get the hell out without a lot of fanfare.”

Somebody is apparently planning a memorial service for her in Volga sometime.

I hope so. I know a lot of us would like to drink a toast to the old girl.

Ring Christmas Bells..Please?

Posted: Tuesday, December 16, 2014 at 12:32 pm
By: Doug Lund

(From Santa’s vault)

I was awakened early this morning by a thumping noise coming from the basement followed by a faint sound that reminded me of the bell teacher’s ring to call kids in from recess.

There has been a little criminal activity in our part of town lately and my first thought was, “there’s a burglar in the basement. My second thought was “what am I going to do about it?” My third thought was, “where’s Linda?”

That’s when I realized that the Christmas season had officially arrived at our house.

She’s the one making all the noise as she drags out boxes full of decorations that have been stored in the closet under the stairs since last January 1st.

Now, I know what you’re thinking; why aren’t you down there helping her ya lazy lug?

Well, she doesn’t want my help., at least that’s what she says.

Linda really gets focused on the task at hand and it’s best to stay out of her way until I’m called in to give final approval to what she’s done.

“The front window looks great, Honey. Yes, I like the candle sticks on either side of the red bow and tiny twinkling tree.” No, Honey, I can’t see the electrical cords that you’ve neatly camouflaged in green garland. You’ve really outdone yourself again, Honey.”

Occasionally I’ll hear an un-Christmas-like curse come from her sweet lips as she steps back to admire her handiwork and a suction cup holding one of the little wreaths lets go for lack of spit and comes crashing down.

Linda always says she’s not going to put as much stuff up this year..but, like lovin’ her man, once she gets started it’s awfully hard to stop.

I did try to help one year.

Over her objections, I bought a string of bells that played over 90 Christmas songs. My plan was to string them around  the inside patio door and fill our house with the joyful sounds of the season.

xmas bells

It seemed easy enough until I discovered that most of the little electronically-operated clappers needed to be bent a bit so they’d strike the bell properly.

But the biggest problem was trying to keep the bells from touching the curtain which prevented them from having a peal.(sorry)

“We three kings of Orient (thunk).”

After doing much holiday cursing of my own, and to Linda’s great relief, I finally took the bells out to the garage and strung them up above my work bench where they could hang free.

Well, I thought. Our Christmas Eve guests will still be impressed when they arrive to the sound of familiar carols chiming away by the back door.

But what I didn’t realize is that the bell’s computer chip was never designed to operate in the cold and before long, “Silent Night” was being played at lightening speed with a lot of the important notes missing.

I figured out what might be wrong and went in to get something out of the house to fix it.

“What have you got in your hand?” Linda asked.

“Nothing.”

“Yes you do, what is it.”

“A hair dryer.”

“A hair dryer..what in the world do you need a hair dryer in the garage for?”

“Um, to warm up the bell controller.”

“Are you going to be running in and out of here all night shooting hot air onto those damn bells while your family is in here having Christmas?”

It was a rhetorical question..and I almost blurted out, “well, as hot as you are right now, maybe you could just stand out here and that would do the trick.”  But I didn’t.

xmas bells 006

Those Christmas bells are still hanging in the garage right where I strung them up years ago.

I sometimes plug them in on a 90 degree day in August.

They work great!

My Date With Joan

Posted: Friday, December 5, 2014 at 2:45 pm
By: Doug Lund

I probably will never require carpel tunnel surgery because of too much time spent at the keyboard writing blogs. But my digits do get a serious..perhaps syndrome-inducing work-out pushing buttons on the remote control changing TV channels or utilizing the DVR to its maximum capabilities.

It’s one of the reasons..well, okay, the MAIN reason.. Linda and I rarely watch television together; she’ll put up with commercials.  I just can’t. I pre-record just about everything.  Occasionally, though, late at night..I’ll be rolling through channels and see “Johnny Carson” in the program guide and can’t help myself. I always stop to watch..even though I realize it’s nothing more than a half hour commercial featuring  “best of” clips from “The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson” that have been compiled and  being offered for sale on video. I’ve watched this infomercial a dozen times and still can’t resist ogling again and again.

My gosh, it’s been 22 years since the king of late night television, Johnny Carson, retired but just hearing his Tonight Show theme song and seeing some of those highlights makes me laugh and feel young again. I, like millions of others, especially got a kick out of the shows which featured wildlife experts, Jim Flowler or Joan Embrey who would bring  exotic animals on for Johnny to play with; often with hilarious results.

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Early on during my long TV career my bosses knew I was better suited for puff pieces rather than covering politics, cops or courts. I wasn’t as interested in hard news as  Hemmingsen, Bjerke, Ertz or any one of a number of young Woodward/Bernstein wanna-be’s in our newsroom..so when feature stores came up..I’d get the assignment and loved it. Which brings me to my encounter with Joan Embery..the wildlife specialist from the San Diego Zoo who would eventually make 75 memorable appearances on The Tonight Show with both Johnny Carson and Jay Leno.

I can’t recall exactly what year it was..but sometime in the late 70’s or early 80’s Joan was a guest at Sioux Falls’ Great Plain’s Zoo and available for interviews. A Keloland promotion photographer caught this shot of us in the act. That’s Vince Dave in the yellow KELO jacket and Bob Fischnich operating the camera. I’m not sure but I think that’s a spider monkey Joan is holding.

kelo doug and joan embry

Looking at the picture I’m trying to remember some of the things discussed and am coming up empty. I do recall that, as I suspected, she relied heavily on make-up..but then, I was probably wearing some too. I also deduced quickly that she was the real deal; genuinely nice which made me feel a bit awkward when I decided to ask a “hard news” question to impress my colleagues back at the station. “Joan. How do you justify your concern for the well being of wild animals when you work for a place that keeps them penned up..not wild and free at all?”

Embery just smiled and gave the answer she’s given a thousand times before that some zoos are bad but most have become actively involved in conservation through inter-zoo breeding programs and work with wild populations. Zoo animals are advocates for those in the wild and inspire people to care about threatened wildlife.

Embrey has been good to her word. Now in her mid 60’s she continues to work as an ambassador and advocate for animals and the environment including television appearances with exotic creatures; most recently on the Christian Broadcast Network.

But I’ll never forget those gut-busting moments with Johnny like this.

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Or this.

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Speaking of late night TV talk shows, my favorite, “The Late Late Show With Craig Ferguson” ends its ten year run at the end of December.

I am really going to miss this quirky Scotsman and his gay robot sidekick, Geoff Peterson (Played by the brilliant Josh Robert Thompson) who never..ever..failed to make me laugh out loud even while watching alone.

late night craig and geoff

CBS is replacing Ferguson with another British actor-comedian, James Corden. He comes with some pretty impressive credentials including a Broadway Toni. He’s only 36 though and I’m afraid that instead of making me laugh out loud..his humor might make me feel out of touch.

James Corden New Late Late Show Host

James Corden New Late Late Show Host

Oh, well..there’s always YouTube and that stack of Johnny Carson and Dean Martin Celebrity Roast videos I ordered in the middle of the night.

 

The Only Good Reporter Is An Argus Reporter

Posted: Friday, November 21, 2014 at 1:08 pm
By: Doug Lund

I haven’t written a blog for awhile and after this one..it might just be my last..but here goes.

This past week, as I discovered the names of many talented journalists at the Argus Leader who were getting canned in the company’s latest strategy move to keep afloat or relevant..or whatever… I also learned that the former senior editor..now elevated to the obscure title of “content strategist” was taking pot shots at every news reporter in town except the two guys sitting next to him on his appropriately named “100 Eyes Webcast.” ( So named because I doubt if it is seen by more than 50 people a week.)

I get angry when people I know in the broadcast news business, who work every bit as hard at their craft and are as dedicated to journalistic excellence as anyone at the Argus..get blindsided by this guy who thinks he has a finger on the pulse of Sioux Falls area residents and figures they (using the obvious “bicycle” metaphor here) need to “Roll with the changes” the Argus is offering at nine bucks a month to go digital with him.

Here’s an excerpt from his webcast. I want you to note in particular the lack of any feeling whatsoever by he or his toadies after having just had so many of their long time colleagues like Joel  Brown, Janna Farley, Jon Walker, Peter Harriman, Ron Hoffman, Doreen Weinstein and others  unceremoniously “streamlined” right out the door. But, hell..that’s their business not mine. I want you to watch this video to the end where he lays into broadcast reporters..wherein lies my beef.

http://www.argusleader.com/videos/news/local/2014/11/19/19277671/

 

What Mr. Strategist knows and isn’t saying is that when his two pet reporters need more time for investigative reporting or to read Cory Heidelberger’s blog for ideas, they will have it and all the page space they need.

He also knows that stations like Keloland turn out five newscasts and one web newscast a day..while maintaining the top web site in the state. Reporters, including anchors, are expected to contribute daily packages that tell the story with facts and interviews while fitting  it into the newscast time restraints..or going live from the scene when a situation warrants.

 

I like getting my Argus Leader in the morning. I think it’s gotten better since adding the USA Today section.  I like a lot of the people who work there..although many of them and their paychecks..have been sent packing.

My computer says I’ve used up my limit of free time on the Argus web page without paying the nine bucks.

Think I’ll pass.

A Promise Remembered

Posted: Sunday, November 2, 2014 at 12:53 pm
By: Doug Lund

It’s true that us old farts have glommed on to Facebook making it uncool for kids to hang around much anymore  but I don’t give a rip. I’ve had great joy reconnecting socially with people from the past..especially those who passed through the Keloland newsroom on their way to bigger and better things. Many came just to chalk up some broadcasting cred and didn’t leave much of a footprint but others really enjoyed their experience here and left with more than just news knowledge.steve boyd

That was Steve Boyd; a tall, dark handsome lad from Buffalo, New York who we all figured would come in having a big city attitude. He had an attitude all right; one of respect, good humor and a thirst for learning all he could about the business.  Steve went on to work a few more years in television news before going to law school. He’s been a successful attorney in his hometown of Buffalo for many years but never forgot his time in Keloland as is evidenced by this memory he wrote and shared on Facebook.   I, in turn, want you to read it in hopes you will be as moved as I.  Again, the following are words written by Steve Boyd which he posted on Facebook Sunday morning.   (At the end of his story, I’ve put a link to a blog I did about Jan Peterson shortly after her death.)

In November 1988 I was anchoring the weekend news at KELOLAND News in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Despite the size of the market, KELO-TV was one of the best local TV news rooms in the country. Reporters had expense accounts back then. We were expected to use them to develop relationships with sources for future stories. We were the smallest market in the country to own a satellite truck (new technology in the 1980’s). When big news broke, money was no object. We covered five states and we were stacked with talented Journalists.

One of them was a short curly haired bespectacled Executive Producer named Jan Peterson, Jan started at KELO as an intern and over time she became our leader. She had a passion for Journalism (yes that’s a capital “J”). She set high standards and she was involved in countless community charitable endeavors. As our former anchorman Steve Hemmingsen described in a 2004 Christmas post:

“She was one of those balls of fire that with her little red pickup (before that was cool) was involved in everything, every project at the station and projects that helped others who faced challenges, banging nails for Habitat for Humanity, taking blind people skiing in the Black Hills, using her summer vacation to be counselor at a church camp.”

I had arrived at KELO in the fall of 1987. I’m pretty sure Executive Producer Jan Peterson had little regard for some A-hole (yes capital “A”) from Buffalo who was looking to make a quick stop in Sioux Falls before moving on in his career. But over time, with Jan at the helm, along with Mark Millage, Steve Hemmingsen and others, I began to really learn what it meant to be a Journalist.

One night when staff was particularly short, Jan produced our weekend news. Between shows, she wanted to show me and fellow Anchor/Reporter Julie Francavilla a little diner where we would allegedly experience the best apple pie of our lives. I don’t remember if the pie was any good, I’ll never forget the conversation.

Big fat white snow flakes were slowly wandering to the ground outside the window as we sat there. It was pitch black outside and only the lights from the diner illuminated the sparse flakes. It was the first snowfall of 1988. Jan from Boone, Iowa, Julie from Boulder, Colorado and this Buffalonian laughed as we discussed and debated our expertise on the topic of what it took to make a “perfect” snowfall. Was it the big fat gentle flakes we were witnessing? Did the perfect snow leave the kind of powder that western skiers love so much? Or was it heavier for good packing in a snowball fight? This discussion lasted a long time and we laughed, agreed and disagreed. As we paid the bill I made a promise to Jan. No matter where I was in the world I would always think of her and that conversation when the first snow fell.

I left Sioux Falls for Buffalo in 1989. Two years later at age of 32 Jan Peterson suffered a major stroke. She was paralyzed from the eyes down. The stroke robbed her of every bodily function except her sight, her hearing and her brilliant mind. Jan lived inside the prison of her body for fifteen years until she passed and was buried in Boone, Iowa on May 3rd, 2008.

Yesterday, as I walked out to my car I saw flurries in the air. They didn’t stick to the ground. They left no covering, no powder to blow, nothing to pack. This year’s first snowfall was not at all perfect. Still, for the 28th time the first flakes of the year took me back to an old diner in Sioux Falls, South Dakota and a promise to my old friend Jan Peterson. Long gone. Never forgotten.

http://blog.keloland.com/lund/blog/2008/05/02/j-says-goodbye/

Dark On Halloween

Posted: Wednesday, October 29, 2014 at 8:45 am
By: Doug Lund

Sorry kids..the Lund house will probably be dark on Halloween night.

It’s not that we don’t love you, it’s just we’re too cheap to spring for candy.  Nah..that’s not really it either.  I suppose the main reason, for me anyway, is that Halloween hasn’t been the same without kids or grandkids around to take trick or treating. I’ve been doing it since my own daughters were little and the tradition continued with my kid’s kids and Linda’s kid’s kids. I loved walking the neighborhood with those excited little souls all dressed up in costume..usually of their own choosing…waiting on the walk as they ran up to the door…first explaining why we only go to houses with the porch lights on.

I fondly remember the joy of hearing their tiny voices either whisper or yell “Trick or Treat” depending on the precociousness of my grandkid’s varied personalities. It was also fun to fake being totally frustrated by having to remind them to say “Thank You” after receiving a sweet reward from the nice person bent over in the lighted doorway. Eventually, their containers would either get full or their little feet would grow tired so  I’d plan the shortest route back to our house to show Grandma Linda the big haul.  I loved trying to negotiate with the kids  for my share of the loot which provided me an opportunity to teach another life lesson; this one about sharing. None of them bought-in to my flimsy threats to paddle their behinds if I didn’t get a few Tootsie Rolls. Oh, what fun it was and oh, how I miss it.

Our youngest grandchild just turned 13 and I suspect considers herself too old for playing the traditional door to door extortion game. Besides, she lives too far away in Lincoln.

We have a great grandchild..but she likely already has a line of high priority chaperones anxious to canvass the neighborhoods on Friday night.

There is another great grandchild on the way. I’m going to put in a request now for the okay to tag along on his first night of meaningful Trick or Treating in three or four years.

Treasure the moments, folks.

Happy Halloween.

Granddaughter Tara and stepdaughter Christy  mid 80's.

Granddaughter Tara and stepdaughter Christy mid 80’s.

 

Tara as Pocahontas a couple years later.

Tara as Pocahontas a couple years later.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Sioux Falls Duck Dynasty

Posted: Thursday, October 16, 2014 at 1:13 pm
By: Doug Lund

Every time I see or hear somebody going gaga over the puzzlingly popular “Duck Dynasty” TV reality series, I think back to an interview I did over 20 years ago with a Sioux Falls gentleman named Frank Heidelbauer who was in the same business as Phil Robertson (creator of Duck Commander duck calls) only he didn’t have a beard or a bazillion dollar business. He simply made, arguably the finest duck and goose calls in the world.   vlcsnap-2014-10-15-13h03m26s202

 

Frank Heidelbauer grew up on an Iowa farm and loved hunting..especially ducks. As a boy he studied waterfowl sounds and leaned to call them out of the sky using nothing but his voice. Unfortunately, that talent disappeared one night when he was 12 or 13 when he awoke to find puberty had arrived and, like a thief, stole his natural duck calling voice so he would quack no more.

But Frank never forgot the sound he knew could get a duck’s attention and was determined to someday come up with a call to recreate it.

That would have to wait, though. His country needed him and after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor,  Frank joined the U.S. Army Air Corps; serving the entire length of World War II from 1941 to 1945  receiving two distinguished flying cross medals and two air medals. Frank would continue to make aviation his life career retiring in 1981 after over 20 years as Chief Pilot and safety director for Raven Industries.

After the war, Frank also got back on track toward his lofty goal of building the finest waterfowl calls in the world. His regular hunting trips became research and development missions.

With the skills of a fine wood craftsman, the mind of a scientist, the discipline and confidence of a military leader along with the faith and fairness of a prophet, Heidelbauer eventually found a combination of Bird’s Eye Maple wood and plastic along with the proper dimensions and assembly techniques that made for the perfect call.vlcsnap-2014-10-15-13h01m41s161

Frank was not a braggart by any means but after demonstrating the call for me; first leaning into it loud enough to get the attention of a flock flying a thousand feet over head or a not-so-understanding neighbor….then softly clucking as if ducks were having a quiet conversation on the pond…Frank smiled at me and said, “There’s no other single reed call that can do that.”

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Not only did Frank once win world championships with his own calls, his reputation quickly outgrew his ability to keep up with demand..especially after write-ups in Field and Stream and other outdoors magazines.

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The thing about Frank was he just wouldn’t settle for anything less than perfection.  I remember him telling me after he stopped making Goose calls for a while because the sheet plastic he’d been using for reeds was discontinued, “Most people wouldn’t know the difference but I would.” He said.vlcsnap-2014-10-15-13h06m23s179

At the time of our visit in 1991, the Heidelbauer Mallard Toller duck call was priced at $275.00. That’s an enormous amount of money for a duck call..probably the most expensive in the world but every Heidelbauer call was personally handcrafted by Frank himself who spent an average of  14 hours on each one and guaranteed them to be perfect upon leaving his shop and bring in ducks for the hunter.   I remember him saying, “You couldn’t hire a plumber in Sioux Falls for 14 hours for 275 dollars.”

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That was the wonderful thing I took from our time together. He wasn’t interested so much in achieving big money or fame.(Although, many of the country’s top guides are on record as using Heidelbauer calls. One, Frank joked, told him he’d part with his wife before giving up his Heidelbauer call.) He was more interested in having people get outdoors and enjoy the hunting experience and if he could help you invite some ducks to the party…well, that’s reward enough.

About four years after our interview, Frank Heidelbauer, who had turned down lots of offers to sell his shop, tools and all his secrets, decided to turn everything over to his young protégé, Todd..his grandson. Todd had not only loved going hunting with Frank but been like a sponge hanging around the shop helping grandpa and learning the master’s skills..both as a craftsman and a gentleman.

Todd is still carrying on the Heidelbauer duck and goose calls tradition: http://www.heidelbauer.com/

As for Frank, he was 73 at the time of our story. I recall him saying he hoped the good Lord would let him keep going until at least  80. It turns out he was still calling in Mallards, Mergansers, Red Heads and Canvas Backs until age 84 when God decided to give the ducks a break.

I don’t know what Frank might have thought about a show like Duck Dynasty..or if he’d ever heard of Duck Commander calls. I can almost guarantee, though, that any duck hunter worth his buckshot..including the bewiskered Phil Robertson.. has heard of Frank Heidelbauer.

Frank Heidelbauer and Grandson Todd after calling in some geese in 1994.

Frank Heidelbauer and Grandson Todd after calling in some waterfowl in 1994.

I’ll Never Forget Ol What’s Her Name

Posted: Friday, October 10, 2014 at 12:26 pm
By: Doug Lund

I had quite a scare the other day.

After waking up from, what has become my regular afternoon siesta, I couldn’t remember the president’s first name.  I don’t know why I wanted to remember the president’s first name but apparently I did and  couldn’t.  (Please don’t read anything political into this.) Obama was no problem. I also had no trouble recalling the name of Obama’s wife, Michelle, but..what the hell?? This is the President of the United States and I’m drawing a blank.

I’ve had these..what I call brain farts..before. I’ve gone into rooms on a mission only to completely forget what that mission is once I get there. I’ve had to call my own cell phone more times than I can count in order to hear the ring and disclose its location. I go to the store and forget one or more of the main items I went to the store for in the first place. I think these are pretty common episodes in most people’s lives no matter how far advanced in age they are.

But this was a doozy for me because it lasted for several minutes; almost to the point of where I was going to check Google on the computer under U.S. Presidents.   Then, as mysteriously as the name “Barack” left my mind, it popped back in.

The incident upset me so much that I started wondering if this was an early warning sign of Alzheimer’s which claimed my cousin Bob’s life last spring.  So, back to Google. Turns out, It could be…but most likely, according to a recent report on National Public Radio,  it’s nothing to be terribly concerned about.  If you start forgetting the names of close friends and family members or get lost in familiar places or words that used to be important no longer have meaning..well, then get yourself checked post haste.

I think (hope) this couple is just kidding around.

I think (hope) this couple is just kidding around.

Dr. Kirk Daffner, a Harvard Brain Specialist, says What’s common as people age, is that the speed at which information can be retrieved on demand is slowed. Through much of our lives, it was this wonderful gift; we wanted information and bang, it came to us.”   He says there are lots of reasons why our brains get sluggish.  High blood pressure damages the wiring that connects different parts of the brain. Poor sleep or excess alcohol are enemies of a nimble brain. And many medicines — including common drugs to reduce stomach acid, control asthma or treat depression — can slow the brain down. Hmmm, I take meds for high blood pressure, have goofy sleep habits and have been on Prozac for many years.  Strike one, two and three right? Well..not necessarily.  It turns out you can reduce the risk of losing your marbles by keeping the old brain ACTIVE and CHALLENGED.

So now, I can consider those hours spent in the porcelain reading room doing crosswords as a healthy time of both physical AND mental multi-tasking. Research has also found that social networks (having lots of friends) and stimulating activities are also vital to good cognitive function.   I have that covered; 825 friends on Facebook where I spend so much of my time. It’s  not a waste of time, It’s brain therapy.   And for stimulating activities..what can be more stimulating than watching the Minnesota Vikings or “Blue Bloods” “Hell on Wheels” “Downton Abbey”or any one of a hundred favorite television programs?    “I’ve gotta watch TV, honey. Doctor’s orders.”

“There is one other thing people can do,” Dr Daffner says, “physical exercise.” “Some of the best converging data about successful memory or cognition is linked to exercise.”

Damn. I was almost in the clear.

Neighborhood Mystery

Posted: Thursday, September 25, 2014 at 7:15 pm
By: Doug Lund

Well, some interesting things since we last visited.  A potpourri of items to follow:

First, I suppose, was the wake-up call/reality check from the Minnesota Vikings reminding me that they will always squish my foolish early optimism with humiliating defeats..and,  to make matters much worse, the team’s biggest star, Adrian Peterson, has fallen from the sky and come crashing to earth in a big ball of idiotic behavior and bad publicity all because he has some antiquated ideas about how to discipline his little kids.

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Peterson obviously has no rules of discipline for himself, though,  making regular withdrawals from his unprotected sperm bank all over the country resulting in at least seven kids from five different moms.  Now, he’s getting his full pay while sidelined until the whole child abuse case is settled. Oy Vey.

Which reminds me; Happy New Year ( Rosh Hashanah) to my Jewish friends. I have two.

Fall has arrived without a lot of trumpets blaring. I suppose the lack of fanfare is because Summer has been a bit stubborn about getting out of the way which is fine by me.

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I do find it puzzling that so many people I know proudly proclaim Autumn to be their favorite season when it means so many fun outdoorsy things of our short Summer;  swimming, boating, baseball, picnics, patio parties, golf and gardening are all over.  Oh, sure. The Autumn leaves (especially the sumac bushes) turn pretty colors, the air is crisp and cool, apple and pumpkin picking with the kids is nice so are homecoming parades and football games. Plus, it won’t be long before great armies of guys and gals outfitted in orange and armed with shotguns  will partake in their annual passion for Pheasant hunting.  Thousands will gather on opening day at the edge of fields, shelterbelts and sloughs…then at the stroke of twelve noon, with excited dogs sniffing the air, unleashed and leading the way, will all pile out of their pickups and march forward hoping to blast the beaks off as many of our pretty state birds as the limits will allow.  I hear pheasant numbers are up this year. Hope so.

I see the value of houses in our Ronning Estates neighborhood (an older Sioux Falls subdivision) has about maxed out meaning our ride on the real estate inflation train has pulled into the station. Linda and I have seen it coming for years, of course. These houses were built for first time home buyers back in the early seventies..most of them sold for about 18 thousand dollars but it didn’t take long for excited young families to make them look like a million bucks; adding garages, planting trees, grooming yards and demonstrating a real pride of ownership.  I’m happy to say that still exists out here.…..with a few exceptions. And it’s those exceptions that have us  checking the Real Estate ads for the first time ever. The other night around 10:45, I was in my lair watching TV when the doorbell rang followed by a loud knock on the door.  I’d like to say I raced to investigate but, like the true chicken I am, waited for Linda to join me in the hall before getting up on my tip toes  to peek out the small door window to see what creature might be lurking on the other side who would dare interrupt our slumber so late at night. I flicked on the porch light expecting..I don’t know..one of the grandkids.. a tipsy friend..we had no idea. But there was no one.  Whoever it was had disappeared into the darkness. A mystery that will likely remain unsolved.

Oh, wait. What’s this? A note left by the door with a simple instruction.

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So I open it up and discover this:

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I blacked out the phallic symbol.

A stupid prank by a bunch of kids is all we can figure..but it has really unnerved Linda to the point where the window blinds are now shut tight and the porch light is left on all night.  (It turns out several of our neighbors got similar “notes” and late night knock and runs too.)

So..would we ever really consider pulling up stakes and moving into a condo?  Well, who wants to live in a neighborhood where you have to worry about who might be roaming the streets and banging on your door in the middle of the night?

Then something else happened that is nearly as mysterious as the note. Three different windy days have caused huge branches to come crashing down from our front yard Maple tree which was severely damaged in the April ice storm and, despite a trimming, continues to give up limbs every time a brisk breeze blows. One I managed to drag to the driveway intending to chop into garbage acceptable size pieces. The other two lay in the yard  awaiting my indecision on disposal. But before that could happen they VANISHED.

We have suspicions about which one of our neighbors may actually be our branch Good Samaritan..loading them up and hauling them away on three separate occasions .. but have decided to take our time figuring it out.

It could take years.