Vol. 21, No. 9; Thursday, Dec. 10, 2020

Dec 10, 2020 | Parker's Midweek Update | 0 comments

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We were the only family with children in the restaurant. I sat Erik in a highchair and noticed everyone was quietly eating and talking. Suddenly Erik squealed with glee and said, “Hi, there!” He pounded his fat baby hands on the highchair tray. His eyes were wide with excitement, and his mouth was bared in a toothless grin. He wriggled and giggled with merriment. I looked around and saw the source of his merriment. It was a man with a tattered rag of a coat, dirty, greasy and worn. His pants were baggy with a zipper at half-mast, and his toes poked out of would-be shoes. His shirt was dirty, and his hair was uncombed and unwashed. His whiskers were too short to be called a beard, and his nose was so varicose it looked like a road map. We were too far from him to smell, but I was sure he smelled. His hands waved and flapped on loose wrists.

“Hi there, baby. Hi there, big boy. I see ya, buster,” the man said to Erik.

My husband and I exchanged looks. What do we do?

Erik continued to laugh and answer, “Hi, hi there.” Everyone in the restaurant noticed and looked at us and then at the man. The old geezer was creating a nuisance with my beautiful baby.

Our meal came, and the man began shouting from across the room. “Do you know patty cake? Do you know peekaboo? Hey look, he knows peekaboo!” Nobody thought the old man was cute. He was obviously drunk.

My husband and I were embarrassed. We ate in silence, all except for Erik, who was running through his repertoire for the adoring Skid Row bum who in turn reciprocated with his cute comments. We finally got through the meal and headed for the door. My husband went to pay the check and told me to meet him in the parking lot. The old man sat poised between me and the door.

“Lord, just let me out of here before he speaks to me or Erik,” I prayed. As I drew closer to the man, I turned my back trying to sidestep him and avoid any air he might be breathing. As I did, Erik leaned over my arm, reaching with both arms in a baby’s pick-me-up position. Before I could stop him, Erik had propelled himself from my arms into the man’s.

Suddenly a very old smelly man and a very young baby consummated their love relationship. Erik in an act of total trust, love and submission lay his tiny head upon the man’s ragged shoulder. The man’s eyes closed, and I saw tears hover beneath his lashes. His aged hands, full of grime, pain and hard labor, gently so gently cradled my baby’s bosom and stroked his back. No two beings have ever loved so deeply for so short a time.

I stood awestruck. The old man rocked and cradled Erik in his arms for a moment, and then his eyes opened and set squarely on mine. He said in a firm commanding voice, “You take care of this baby.”

Somehow I managed, “I will,” from a throat that contained a stone. He pried Erik from his chest, unwillingly, lovingly, as though he were in pain. I received my baby, and the man said, “God bless you, ma’am. You’ve given me my Christmas gift.” I said nothing more than a muttered thanks.

With Erik in my arms, I ran for the car. My husband was wondering why I was crying and holding Erik so tightly and why I was saying, “My God, my God, forgive me.” I had just witnessed Christ’s love shown through the innocence of a tiny child who saw no sin, who made no judgment, a child who saw a soul and a mother who saw a suit of clothes. I was a Christian who was blind, holding a child who was not. I felt it was God asking, “Are you willing to share your son for a moment?” when He shared His for all eternity.

The ragged old man unwittingly had reminded me, “To enter the kingdom of God, we must become as little children.”


This week’s schedules:
* Gymnastics: at Mitchell, 4 p.m.
* Wrestling: at Rapid City invitational, 1 p.m.
* Girls basketball: home vs. Harrisburg, 7 p.m.
* Boys basketball: at Harrisburg, 7 p.m.
* Wrestling: at Rapid City invitational, 9:30 a.m.
* Gymnastics: at Aberdeen Central, noon.
* Boys basketball: home vs. Watertown, 7 p.m.
* Girls basketball: at Huron, 7 p.m.

Boys wrestling: Competing in the first meet of the season at Clark/Willow Lake’s tournament, the Governor boys won the team title. Pierre had six boys champions, including Blake Judson at 120 pounds, and he was named Outstanding Wrestler of the tournament. The other champions were Noah Williams at 113 pounds, Tristan Spencer at 126, Trey Lewis at 145, Lucas Chamberlain at 170, and Gavin Stotts at 195. Other Governor placers: Jamin McGray, second at 106; Nate Williams, second at 132; Haeden Wheelhouse, fourth at 138; Brock Moser, second at 152; Chance Carda, second at 160; Elijah Boutchee, second at 182; Josh Rydberg, third at 220; Lucas Colman, second at 285.

Girls wrestling: Pierre girls competed in wrestling for the first time ever at Clark/Willow Lake last Saturday. Pierre placers in their respective divisions: Mary Chessmore, second place; Hattie Baldwin, fourth; Gianna Stangeland, second; Emalee Larson, first; Macy Mehlhaff, second; Mylie Taylor, fourth; Marlee Shorter, third; Ciara McFarling, first.

Gymnastics: The season-opening dual went to Pierre over Huron, 125.7 to 121.3. Neveah Karber was first in the all-around standings with a 31.45 score. Emmy Loe was third at 30.85 and Ryen Sheppick fourth at 30.75. Loe won the vault, Karber won the bars, and Marissa Matthews was first on the beam. At the Lolly Forseth Invitational in Sioux Falls, Pierre placed ninth with a 124.05 team score. Mitchell was the team champion. The best Pierre score in the all-around was that of Sheppick, an eighth grader, at 30.800. Freshman Neveah Karber had a 30.300 score.

Football: The state champion Governors held their postseason awards event this week. Some of the special awards: offensive most valuable player, Maguire Raske; defensive most valuable players, Regan Bollweg, Josh Rowse; special teams most valuable player, Jaden Flor; linemen of the year, Gunnar Gehring, Preston Taylor; scouts of the year, Spencer Kelly, Chance Carda; blue-collar Governors of the year, Lincoln Kienholz, Jack Merkwan; golden Govs, Collin Brueggeman, Aaron Booth; Burlsworth character award, Houston Lunde. In addition to All-State and all-conference honors announced earlier, these Governor players earned Academic All-State status: Zach Letellier, Regan Bollweg, Aaron Booth, McCain Kruger, Triston Curry, Houston Lunde, Gunnar Gehring, Jacob Larson, Collin Brueggeman, Cord Ellis. (News courtesy of Pierre Capital Journal)

Football: Five new school records were set during this fall’s state championship season—most receiving yards in one game, 229 by Zach Letellier vs. Yankton; most receiving touchdowns in a career 20 by Regan Bollweg; most sacks in a career, 20.5 by Regan Bollweg; most touchdowns in a career, 68 by Maguire Raske; most touchdowns in a game, 7 by Maguire Raske vs. Spearfish. (News courtesy of Pierre Capital Journal)


This week’s schedules:
* Wrestling: at Lyman triangular (with Miller/Highmore-Harrold).
* Boys basketball: at Lyman
* Girls basketball: at Lyman.
* Wrestling: at Gregory invitational.
* Gymnastics: at Wagner tournament.
* Girls basketball: home vs. White River.
* Girls basketball: home vs. Winner.
* Boys basketball: home vs. Winner.

Wrestling: At the season-opening Stanley County Invitational the team champion was Burke-Gregory with seven individual champions. Stanley County was fourth with 64 points. Chase Hanson was champion at 120 pounds, and Trey Frost won the 132-pound class. Other Buffalo placers: Colton Brady, second at 138; Levi Stover, second at 170; Hayden Roggow, third at 120; Tracy Nielson fourth at 285.

Girls basketball: The Buffaloes opened their season with a 47-20 loss to Chamberlain Tuesday.


This week’s schedules:
* Wrestling: at Lyman triangular (with Miller/Highmore-Harrold).
* Girls basketball: at North Central (Bowdle).
* Boys basketball: at Lyman.
* Girls basketball: at Lyman.

Wrestling: At the Stanley County invitational to open the season, the Chargers were 10th in the team standings with 14 points. Kash Weischedel placed fourth at 182 pounds.

Girls basketball: The Chargers lost their season opener to Ipswich, 52-47. Lydia Hill had 17 points and Stevie Wittler 14.

QUOTE OF THE WEEK (for South Dakotans to ignore and scoff at)

“We are far from out of the woods just because there are vaccines that have good results. People need to brace themselves for the cold reality of what’s in front of us and not stop any of the preventive measures meant to keep COVID-19 in check.”

— Joel Zivot, Emory University professor of surgery who works at Emory Decatur Hospital’s ICU in Atlanta


Directions: Draw a square of 16 boxes in a 4×4 format. Number the squares in your row 1, 2, 3 and 4 from left to right. Number the squares in your left-hand row 1, 5, 6 and 7 from top to bottom.

(1) Sports officials.
(5) The feast of the Nativity.
(6) Hebrew boy’s name.
(7) Christmas.
(1) —- Reynolds, movie star.
(2) Currency of 19 nations.
(3) Run away from.
(4) Give away for money.

Puzzle answer at the bottom of this Update.


This week’s South Dakota scoreboard:
— Dec. 3: 38 deaths, total 1,033; 1,145 new cases.
— Dec. 4: 31 deaths, total 1,064; 1,050 new cases.
— Dec. 5: 27 deaths, total 1,091; 906 new cases; 16,202 active cases.
— Dec. 6: 19 deaths, total, 1,110; hospitalizations dipped below 500 for the first time since Nov. 6.
— Dec. 7: no deaths; total, 1,110; 509 new cases; 16,814 active cases; the 7-day average for new cases trended downward.
— Dec. 8: 1 death, total 1,111; 539 new cases; 16,783 active cases.
— Dec. 9: 36 deaths, total 1,147; 985 new cases.

Some of this week’s COVID-19 news:

  • Pierre physician Dr. Tom Huber said it is aggravating to see local people not following the recommended guidelines to slow the spread. He said medical facilities staff continue to work hard, but they are exhausted. It is also taking a mental toll on medical staff, he said. (News courtesy of Dakota Radio Group’s “My Daily News.”)
  • North Dakota legislators are required to wear masks in the Capitol when their session begins next month despite opposition from “ultra-conservative” members of the Republican-controlled Legislature.
  • No fans will be admitted to the Rose Bowl and Fiesta Bowl football games. The Rose Bowl is one of the two national semifinal games this year.
  • The Walmart store in Watertown announced it will close for two full days for deep cleaning of the building.
  • The Las Vegas Bowl was canceled for this year. It is the ninth college football bowl game to be canceled.
  • Los Angeles residents were ordered to “cancel everything” and stay home, but there are plenty of exceptions, including non-essential businesses and churches.
  • South Dakota’s economic philosophy took a hit when Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever canceled their February 2021 conventions in Sioux Falls. It was expected 30,000 would attend. Sioux Falls will now have to wait its turn until 2024 because Omaha gets this event the next two years.
  • On Dec. 3 it was reported that the U.S. went from 13 million cases to 14 million cases in one week’s time. A person dies of COVID-19 every 32 seconds in this country. Also on Dec. 3 the number of U.S. virus deaths topped 3,100 in one day for the first time, and the number of hospitalized topped 100,000 for the first time. The number of new cases was topping 200,000 per day.
  • South Dakota’s “I want my freedoms” citizens would be interested in San Francisco’s official vote to ban smoking tobacco in apartments to protect residents from second-hand smoke. There is one exception—marijuana.
  • The Watertown school district is requiring masks for those who attend high school sports events. There is open attendance (anyone can attend), but the district will limit attendance if the public doesn’t cooperate with the mask requirement.
  • The Sanford Pentagon is letting in no fans for this weekend’s Dakota Showcase men’s basketball event, which would have drawn substantial crowds. All of the games—at least those that are not canceled due to more virus outbreaks—will be available on Midco Sports Network tonight (Thursday), Friday and Saturday as the four Division I schools in the Dakotas play a round-robin schedule. (Thursday: 5:30, USD-UND; 8:00, SDSU-NDSU. Friday: 5:30, SDSU-UND; 8:00, USD-NDSU. Saturday: 5:30, UND-NDSU; 8:00, USD-SDSU.)
  • United States deaths are forecast to pass 500,000 in the early months of 2021, even with the rollout of vaccines. The average number of daily deaths is projected to get as bad as 3,000 per day.
  • More people died from COVID-19 in October and November than during the entire Vietnam War. Perhaps one day we will have a wall for these victims, too.
  • Johns Hopkins University’s data center showed South Dakota moved into No. 1 in the nation for new cases per capita.
  • The Gonzaga men’s basketball team from Spokane, Wash., rated #1 in the nation and on the road for 14 days, canceled its next four games due to two positive tests—one a player, the other a staff member. These postponements lead up to a game vs. top-five Iowa at the Sanford Pentagon in Sioux Falls on Dec. 19 on national television, a game which now is on shaky status.
  • Of all the 17 deaths at the nursing home in Estelline, all were due to COVID-19, according to nursing home officials there, except for one, Governor Noem’s grandmother. The governor’s office says she tested negative prior to her death. The nursing home said more than 30 staff members and all residents there tested positive.
  • The Sioux Falls Argus Leader and other papers reported that South Dakota’s largest hospitals are at or above their capacity to care for critically ill COVID-19 patients, forcing them to send some of the sickest patients by plane out of the state to receive care.
  • Just weeks ago the Rapid City common council, with Mayor Steve Allender casting the tie-breaking vote, approved a mask mandate, but now it’s gone by the wayside, and the council has given up the fight to slow the COVID-19 spread. On Monday the council tabled the mask ordinance with Allender casting the deciding vote. “I hope none of us go home cheering tonight,” Allender said. “”We are in a real rough spot as a community. I feel bad for us.” The ordinance would have required masks in public places, including casinos and restaurants, with churches excepted. Businesses would have had the choice of opting out by posting a sign stating they did so.
  • The state of Wyoming instituted a requirement of masks in indoor public places, reduced hours for bars and restaurants and further limited gathering sizes through Jan. 8.
  • The University of Wyoming has banned ticket sales for all home sports events until the new year.
  • If Gonzaga and Iowa, two of the nation’s top-five men’s basketball teams, play their scheduled game at the Sanford Pentagon next week, there will not be any fans present.


Tonight: Riggs High choir concert (Dec. 10).
1 day: Rapid City Rush season opener (Dec. 11).
1 day: Pierre boys and girls basketball openers (Dec. 11).
4 days: Riggs High band concert (Dec. 14).
4 days: Each state’s elected electors meet at state capitals to vote for President (Dec. 14).
11 days: Georgia Morse Middle School band/choir concert (Dec. 21).
12 days: NBA season openers (Dec. 22).
15 days: Christmas Day (Dec. 25).
16 days: Last day of “Christmas at the Capitol” (Dec. 26).
22 days: College football national semifinal games (Jan. 1).
27 days: Joint session of Congress to count electoral votes for President (Jan. 6).
30 days: NFL playoffs begin (Jan. 9).
32 days: College football national championship game (Jan. 11).
33 days: First day of legislative session (Jan. 12).
52 days: Grammy awards, CBS-TV (Jan. 31).
59 days: Super Bowl, CBS-TV (Feb. 7).


Black Hills State women’s basketball (Racquel Wientjes): The BHSU women went 1-1 on their season-opening conference road trip into Colorado. In an 81-74 loss at Western Colorado, Racquel was 6-of-15 in field goals (3-of-6 in three-pointers) and 4-of-4 in free throws for 19 points with seven rebounds and three steals. On Saturday the Yellowjackets won at Fort Lewis, 72-69, on a three-pointer at the buzzer by Alyssia Martinez. Racquel was 4-of-15 (0-of-2) and 5-of-6 for 13 points with six boards, two assists, two blocks and two steals. BHSU is home Friday vs. Colorado-Mesa and Saturday vs. Westminster.

Dakota Wesleyan men’s basketball (Bradley Dean, Nick Wittler): The Tigers improved to 7-1 for the season with two more wins this past week. DWU whipped Dakota State, 81-63, as Bradley was 2-of-4 in three-pointers for six points with three rebounds and an assist. He didn’t score in Sunday’s 93-88 win over Doane. After hosting Northwestern of Iowa last night, DWU goes to Mount Marty Saturday and to Morningside next Wednesday.

South Dakota women’s basketball (Chloe Lamb): The Coyotes won their home opener over Lipscomb, 89-52. Chloe was 2-of-8 (2-of-4 in three-pointers) and 2-of-2 for eight points with two rebounds, three assists and a block. Now 1-2, USD plays at Wichita State tonight (Thursday).

Tennessee women’s basketball (Caleb Currier): The Lady Vols lost to West Virginia, 79-73 and are now 2-1. Tennessee is home vs. Furman tonight, then plays at Texas Sunday at 4 p.m. CST on ESPN.

South Dakota men’s basketball (Max Burchill): The Coyotes’ game at Missouri-Kansas City was canceled due to COVID-19 scares in the USD program. The Coyotes are scheduled to compete with the other three Dakota schools in the Dakota Showcase at the Sanford Pentagon, playing UND tonight, NDSU Friday and SDSU Saturday, then USD goes to Drake next Wednesday. All three Showcase games will be live on Midco Sports Network’s #2 channel.

Mount Marty men’s basketball (Lincoln Jordre): The Lancers edged Jamestown, 80-79, and Lincoln had a steal during his eight minutes on the court. After hosting Concordia last night, MMC hosts DWU Saturday and Doane next Wednesday.

Morningside bowling (Alex Badger): The Mustang bowlers are off until Jan. 16-17 in a tournament at Addison, Ill.

South Dakota State indoor track/field (Addison Eisenbeisz): In a season-opening dual against USD, the Jackrabbit women lost to USD, 77-51, and the men won, 73-62. Addy, who is a junior already, placed second in the high jump at 1.65 meters. This is the only meet listed so far on the indoor season schedule.


  • Here are some television notes you may want to mark on your calendars:
    (1) This year’s repeat of “The Sound of Music” will be on ABC at 6 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 20.
    (2) “Christmas with the Tabernacle Choir” from the Mormon Tabernacle in Salt Lake City will be on PBS at 8 p.m. Monday, Dec. 14. Featured guests this year are Broadway star Kelli O’Hara and actor Richard Thomas (John Boy from “The Waltons”).
    (3) If you’re missing theater during this year-long pandemic, here’s a taste. “One Night Only: The Best of Broadway” will air on NBC at 7 p.m. tonight (Thursday). The casts of “Ain’t Too Proud,” “Mean Girls” and “Jagged Little Pill” will be joined by such stars as Leslie Odom Jr., Kelly Clarkson, Jake Gyllenhall, Vanessa Williams and Billy Porter.
  • Bad news for Cubs fans: Len Kasper, who has been the TV play-by-play voice of the Cubs for 16 seasons, is leaving the Cubs to attain his life-long goal—being a play-by-play radio guy. He’ll be that for the White Sox.
  • “Christmas Jazz” is a concert to be presented online at 4 p.m. CST this Sunday, Dec. 13, by former Rapid City musician Paul Robinson and his talented fellow musicians at St. Paul United Methodist Church in Lincoln. You can find the concert at www.saintpaulumc.org.
  • Baseball isn’t considered an Olympic sport, but break-dancing is? The news this week is that the Olympics start incorporating break-dancing competition in 2024. Hopefully not in prime time.
  • For some of us it isn’t the Christmas season without Handel’s “Messiah.” Here’s an opportunity. At 2 p.m. CST this Sunday, Dec. 13, the choir and orchestra of Trinity Church Wall Street in New York City will perform the classic oratorio online at www.trinitywallstreet.org/messiah.
  • The Black Hills Symphony Orchestra is not having concerts with live audiences, of course, but the orchestra will perform a one-hour concert, “A Little Holiday Music,” from 8:30 to 9:30 p.m. CST this Saturday night, Dec. 12, on Facebook. Find the Facebook page entitled “Black Hills Symphony Orchestra.”
  • Every year I encourage you folks who compose and send Christmas letters to include me on your mailing list so that I can include your family’s year’s news in the Midweek Update after Christmas passes. So I’m asking again. The address is 5285 Mercury Dr., Rapid City SD 57703. As for my own Christmas letter, I likely will not write or send one this year, but I look forward to reading yours!
  • And when you do write your Christmas letter and send your cards, DO NOT USE AN APOSTROPHE. There is no correct way to use an apostrophe in your family’s last name when you try to make it plural. Not the Smith’s, not the Jones’s, not the Knox’s, not the Johnsons’, not the DeGenere’s, no apostrophe, no how, not now, not ever!


Rapid City Rush: The season openers are at home Friday and Saturday vs. Utah at 7:05 p.m.

Aberdeen Wings: The Wings are 14-0 to start the season after 7-0 and 2-1 wins over Bismarck. The latter win came in a shootout. Aberdeen is off until Dec. 18-19 home games vs. St. Cloud.

Oahe Capitals girls: The girls varsity lost to Brookings, 7-2, in their SDAHA league opener. Olivia Swenson and Brylee Kafka scored Oahe goals. Abigail Stewart-Fromm had 32 saves in the nets. The girls face a busy weekend with home games vs. Rushmore at 8:45 p.m. Friday and 9:45 a.m. Saturday and a Sunday road game at Huron at 1 p.m.

Oahe Capitals boys: The Caps’ offense is off to a strong start with 15 goals in the first two SDAHA league games. In a 7-3 win at Watertown, Carter Schulz made 29 saves in goal. Raef Briggs, Elliot Leif and Ashton Griese had two goals each and Keenan Howard one goal. In an 8-2 win at Huron Kieran Duffy made 34 saves as goalkeeper. Leif and Andrew Gordon had two goals apiece and Cord Ellis, Briggs, Dre Berndt and Devin Dodson one goal each. The Caps are off until Dec. 19-20 games at Yankton.

Sioux Falls Stampede: The Stampede stands at 4-5-0 after two wins this week, 1-0 over Waterloo and 4-2 over Des Moines. The Herd plays at home Saturday vs. Fargo and Sunday vs. Lincoln.


NFL football on local TV this weekend (subject to change by networks):
* Thursday: New England at Los Angeles Rams, 7:20 p.m., Fox and NFL Network.
* Sunday: Minnesota at Tampa Bay, noon, Fox.
* Sunday: Kansas City at Miami, noon, Fox.
* Sunday: Green Bay at Detroit, 3:25 p.m., Fox.
* Sunday: Pittsburgh at Buffalo, 7:15 p.m., NBC.
* Monday: Baltimore at Cleveland, 7:15 p.m., ESPN.

Minnesota Vikings: It was a struggle as all Viking wins are, but Minnesota beat Jacksonville in overtime, 27-24. Now 6-6 and back in a playoff spot in the NFC, the schedule gets tough when the team plays at Tampa Bay Sunday.

Denver Broncos: Denver gave Kansas City a fight but lost to the Chiefs, 22-16. Now 4-8, Denver plays at Carolina Sunday.


Send your winners of the following games to parkerhome16@hotmail.com by Saturday morning. We will count the first 10 games on this list that are actually played:
(1) Navy at Army
(2) Illinois at Northwestern
(3) San Diego State at BYU
(4) USC at UCLA
(5) Purdue at Indiana (already canceled)
(6) Wisconsin at Iowa
(7) NFL: Indianapolis at Las Vegas
(8) NFL: Pittsburgh at Buffalo
(9) NFL: Minnesota at Tampa Bay
(10) NFL: Washington at San Francisco
(11) North Carolina at Miami
(12) Michigan at Ohio State (already canceled)
(13) Oklahoma at West Virginia
(14) LSU at Florida
(15) Washington at Oregon


Minnesota United FC: The Loons won 3-0 at Sporting Kansas City in the Western Conference semifinal. On Monday in the conference final at Seattle, the Loons were 15 minutes away from the MLS Cup final, leading the defending champion Sounders by 2-0. But Seattle scored once, then tied it in the 89th minute, then won it in the last minute of stoppage time, 3-2. Seattle plays at Columbus at 7 p.m. Saturday on Fox in the MLS Cup championship game.


Minnesota Timberwolves: The Wolves will play Memphis in the first two of their three NBA preseason games. The games are at 7 p.m. Saturday and Monday.


“Today millions of people don’t trust those in government. They see leaders say one thing and do another. They don’t trust in our institutions. They don’t trust those in business or faith-based institutions. They don’t trust a vaccine to do what it’s supposed to do. They don’t trust the media to report the truth. They don’t even trust their fellow human beings to wear masks to protect them.

“Rebuilding trust is the work of this moment. It is not just the life-changing work of the president-elect and his team but of each and every one of us. It won’t be easy, and it won’t happen overnight. We may not find ways to agree on everything, but what I think we can all collectively agree is that we need to find a way to rebuild trust in one another so that we can heal and move forward.”
— Maria Shriver


Thursday, Dec. 10:
Amber Robinson, Michael Tveidt, Camilla Karaschnik, Weston Bruscher, Penny (Cruthoff) Malevich, Kelsie Brandlee, Kaitlyn Richey, Sarah Moreno, Annabeth Haarstad, Franklin deHueck, Alexi Axlund, Becky LIndekugel.

Friday, Dec. 11:
Chris (Riggs) Hawkinson, Mitch Boe, Joe Stolp, Sandy (Voller) DePountis, Charlene Reed, Diane Giesinger, Arden Rapp (#79), Mari (Donahue) Kramer, Teri (Donahue) Weischedel.
— 16th anniversary, Josh/Amy Joy.

Saturday,, Dec. 12:
Abby Lingle, Brian Pibal, Eric Sibson, Josh Rose, Jenifer Tobin, Joyce Williams, Jeff Ice, Marietta Heath, Starlene Flax, Kyle Neuberger, Laura (Hansen) Mikkelsen, Lukas Tedford, Steph (Vogel) Lund, Tara Dowling, Evelyn Hopper, Wanda Goodman.
— 5th anniversary, John/Kylie Potts.

Sunday, Dec. 13:
Ramsay McKee, Natalie Magedanz, Michael Voeltz, Lila Edelen, Ric Severson, De Knudson, Dianna Knox, Troy Thomas, Carter Howard, Joey Kafka, Karlea (Stahl) Larson, Jason Bakeberg, Lincoln Elizabeth Fitzke, Taylor Martin, LeAnn Poile, Gerri (McKenney) Carpenter.

Monday, Dec. 14:
Adam Emerson, Abby Javurek, Andy Carda, Elliot Williams, Terra Zeller, Jafar Karim, Joyce (Jansen) Moore, Avett Becker.
— We fondly remember the 20 first-graders and six teachers who died at Sandy Hook School in Newtown, Conn., 8 years ago today.

Tuesday, Dec. 15:
Derek Dehne, Steve Withers, Wayne Crawford, Shirleen Fugitt, Kelly (Kafka) Schrempp, Jennifer Schlekeway-Heggelund, Linda Johnson, Paul Lepisto.

Wednesday, Dec. 16:
Nathan Hamm, Bonnie (Pitlick) Rus, Steve Hinker, Rachel (Weber) Bishop, Brenda Goeden, Eric Serbousek, Augustus Gross, Rod Burley, Brooke Lee, Natalie Likness, Vicki Hagemann.
— 3rd anniversary, Brandon/Kelli (Cronin) Nagel.

Thursday, Dec. 17:
Jessica Jockheck, Molly (Robertson) Golla, Jackson Palmer, Kathie Patten, Mason Frohm, Kade Anderson, Austin Mammenga, Ryan Nuttall, Edna Brunmeier.


The fact that, in this moment when death is rising exponentially, hospitals are overrun and healthcare workers are exhausted, you will not simply place a piece of cloth over your nose and mouth in the grocery store tells the sad truth about you.


Mary Walter, who worked for 44 years with the South Dakota Highway Patrol until retiring last June 30, died at the age of 65 Nov. 30 in Groton where she had been living with her sister and brother-in-law. Services were held Dec. 4. Mary grew up in Groton and married Terry Walter in 1974. She began employment with the Highway Patrol in 1976 as a data encoder. After several promotions she became business manager in 1993. She served under eight different superintendents of the SDHP. Mary had battled esophageal cancer for three years. She is survived by two sons, Tate Walter and his wife Olivia and their two daughters in Peoria, Ariz., and Paul Walter and his partner, Nichole Galbavy, and one daughter in Groton, and four sisters, Eileen Schuelke of Groton, Charlotte Erdmann and Barbara Whicher of West Lafayette, Ind., and Helen Gerhard of Green Bay, Wis.

Claire (Garry) Peschong was notified of her selection to be promoted to lieutenant commander in the Navy Reserve. She won’t get the chance, however, since she retired in May, but Claire says it is still nice to be selected.

Ryan Callahan, a graduate student at the University of Iowa’s Department of Microbiology and Immunology, successfully defended his thesis and now has his master’s degree in microbiology.

Nancy McGuire, 87, a native of Highmore, died at home in Rapid City Dec. 1. A memorial service will be held Saturday at Osheim & Schmidt Funeral Home in Rapid City. She is survived by two sons; seven grandchildren; 11 great-grandchildren, and her brother, Orv Charlson of Pierre.

The Pierre Area Chamber of Commerce named Lee Real Estate as its Family Business of the Year. KCCR Radio’s D.T. Meyer received this year’s Pierre Area Pride award. The Hospitality Award this year went to the staff and ownership at Don’s Sinclair. Drifters was named Business of the Year.

Alisha Hunt. who lives now in Sioux Falls, has graduated from USD with a nursing degree.

The Spearfish Brewing Company where Pierre native Nathan Venner is the brewer made the list of the top 10 breweries in the United States, slotted in at ninth place, in the 2020 U.S. Open Beer Championships. He also won two golds and one silver in individual categories. More than 6,000 beers representing more than 140 different styles were entered. The competition is the only one that includes beers from professional breweries and beers from gold-medal winners from the National Homebrew Competition. Nathan, whose parents are Bruce and Lori Venner, won a gold medal in the Heller Bock/Maibock division; a gold in the Near Gluten Free/India Pale Ale/Double India Pale Ale division, and a silver in the Near Gluten Free/Lager division.

The Pierre Volunteer Fire Department held its annual awards event last week. Jennifer Winter was named Firefighter of the Year. Rookie of the Year is Perry Job. The coveted Don Marso Award was given to Chuck Kevghas. A special award went to Byron Caauwe for his rescuing a person from a fire earlier this year.

“Undercover,” the new album by the local Houdek band, is available for listening at https://tinyurl.com/y6tajnwy.

Jace Melvin placed sixth in the first round of steer wrestling at the National Finals Rodeo in Arlington, Texas, in a time of 4.1 seconds, earning $4,231. In Round 5 of that event he had a 3.9-second performance, tying for first place in the round and earning $23,481. In Round 6 Tuesday night Jace tied for fourth in a time of 3.7 seconds, earning $8,885. His aggregate totals through that round show him in ninth place with a total time of 46.2 seconds, and he is ninth in world standings with earnings of $92,821.

Dana “Mick” Petersen, 88, died at home in Pierre on Dec. 3 after a long battle with pulmonary fibrosis. A memorial service will be held at First Congregational United Church of Christ at a later date. A native of Armour, he graduated from high school there in 1952. While in the U.S. Navy during the Korean War, he was stationed at Alameda, Calif., and Kodiak, Alaska. He married Phyllis Serr in 1959. Dana took a job with Blue Cross/Blue Shield and moved to Rapid City. In 1968 he was transferred to Pierre. He took early retirement in 1986 due to corporate restructuring and went to work as an insurance investigator with the state Department of Labor, retiring in 1993. Dana sang for many years in the church choir at First Congregational United Church of Christ. He is survived by his wife, Phyllis; his daughters, Betsy Mayer and her husband Gary and Jill Petersen and her partner, Fred Hepp; his son, Marc Petersen, and two grandchildren.

Tuesday was Jay Vogt’s last day of service to the state after 42 years, the last 33 of them with the South Dakota State Historical Society. The education room at the Cultural Heritage Center has been named in his honor.

Michelle Kroger, whose husband Karl formerly served Southeast United Methodist Church in Pierre and whose father-in-law, the Rev. Greg Kroger, is currently pastor at First United Methodist Church in Pierre, has received the Darrel Leach Youth Worker of the Year Award from the Dakotas Conference of the United Methodist Church. Michelle most recently led youth activities at Grace United Methodist Church in Piedmont until her husband was transferred to the senior pastorship at McCabe UMC in Bismarck.

During the years Allison Mickelson spent in New York City as a student, teacher and performer, she was active in the music program at historic Middle Collegiate Church in the East Village. Early Saturday morning that church caught fire and was destroyed when a six-alarm fire started in the adjacent five-story vacant building. A women’s shelter and other buildings were also lost in the fire. Middle Collegiate is known as one of the leading multi-cultural, multi-racial congregations in the United States. The church was home of New York’s Liberty Bell, which pealed in 1776 to mark the birth of the nation and which has been rung for the inauguration and deaths of U.S. presidents ever since. The church building was jammed in between two neighboring buildings on each side with no space in between, so the fact that the fire spread so easily was no surprise. Allison often invited Pierre friends who were in New York to attend services at Middle Collegiate. She right now is in graduate school in Scotland.

Seamus and McKayla (Marso) McDonough of Denver revealed this week they are expecting their first child in April, and it’s a girl!

Dr. Stuart Stofferahn of Lincoln, Neb., a 1988 graduate of Riggs High School, has been honored by the University of Nebraska-Omaha’s College of Education, Health and Human Services as the recipient of its 2020-21 Distinguished Service Award. He earned his master’s degree from UNO in 2011 and his doctorate there in 2012. Stofferahn is founder and executive director of Nebraska Transition College, which empowers individuals with autism and other disabilities to learn, work and live in our communities. He retired from the U.S. Air Force in 2017 after 31 years of combined active duty and reserve service. He and his wife, Heather Castle, have a combined family of three sons and three daughters.

Dale Vincent, 88, Pierre, died Dec. 6 in Faulkton. His funeral will be at 11 a.m. Friday at Feigum Funeral Home. He came to Pierre with his family in 1944. After serving in the U.S. Army, he married Mary Smith in 1956. Dale worked on Oahe Dam, then ran a Sinclair station. He worked for the city of Pierre’s water department from 1978 until retiring in 1998. He is survived by his wife of 63 years, Mary Vincent; his brother, Calvin Vincent of Trenton, Neb., and his sister, Linda Johnson of Gettysburg.

Randy Seiler has been appointed by the Fort Pierre city council to fill the seat vacated by Mike Weisgram, who was elected to the state House of Representatives. Seiler will become the council member from Ward III effective Jan. 1. If he chooses to keep the seat, he will need to run in the April city election to occupy that seat for one year, then would have to seek his own full term in 2022. (News courtesy of “Today’s KCCR News.”)


Taking a trip down Memory Lane

Take it from one who is about to observe his 82nd Christmas. What matters most is not where you spend Christmas but with whom you spend it.

This year, however, in a lot of families Christmas will be necessarily different. In other families things will go on as usual—big get-togethers, houses full of people, neighborhood parties, malls full of shoppers, New Year’s Eve bashes as if nothing is going on. Just thinking about it angers me, but we won’t get into that here, saving the political aspect of sacrificing a bit for each other for another column another day.

Nevertheless, at this time of year I still cling to memories of Christmases long, long ago. As the favorite holiday song says, “I’ll be home for Christmas . . . if only in my dreams.”

Each December in the Grand Forks Herald, their marvelous columnist, Marilyn Hagerty, reprinted a Christmas column she wrote many years ago. She recalled how her mind wandered back to those cold, starry Christmas Eves in the ’30s and ’40s in her hometown, which happens to be Pierre.

While a good many of my Christmases were also spent in Pierre, the first 25 or so occurred in Onida. my hometown.

This was before television came to central South Dakota, so kids played outdoors. There was always snow at Christmastime, and one of the favorite games was something with “goose” in its title—my mind is failing me at this moment. It was splayed on a big circle drawn with our feet on newly-fallen snow in the vacant lot where the Lutheran church now stands or over on the high school football field, which used to be parallel to the street, north of where the school is now.

Another popular activity to which we kids looked forward for weeks was driving around town “to see the lights”—the decorated homes and businesses. Those patterns of colored lights wouldn’t attract much attention these days, but back then they were a big deal.

My fading memory wants to say there was always a Christmas tree planted smack dab in the center of the Main Street intersection where the hotel, the bank, Ludwig’s Store and Bess & Agnes’ abstract office occupied the four corners. Or was the town’s Christmas tree up on the courthouse lawn at the head of Main Street? Maybe both? Does anybody remember better than I?

I well remember Christmas shopping in Onida, especially on Saturday nights in December. This was long before anybody anywhere came up with the idea of shopping malls to which people would drive for hundreds of miles and leave their hard-earned dollars in some other town’s treasury.

All the stores stayed open on Saturday nights year-round. But in December the kids could usually be found at the movie at the Roxy Theatre. Stores had cider and cookies available for free to their shoppers. The country folks came to town on that night to get their groceries for the week—maybe from Walt Becker up at the Red Owl or from Ralph and May Ludwig at their store on the corner or from Earl and Clarissa Hardwick at their grocery store or from Les and Harriet Ridinger at their grocery store in the second block of Main Street or from Tony and Veo Lamb over at their place.

As for Christmas presents, there were places to get them in Onida. Maybe from Everett Stewart and Ed Cruthoff at their store (was it Marshall Wells in those days? Or Coast to Coast?) or at Pat and Margaret Abbott’s drug store.

In the late ’40s and early ’50s, Christmas Eve afternoon in Onida (or sometimes the Saturday afternoon before Christmas) was long before holiday lights parades and all, but the Onida Fire Department saw to it that Santa Claus’ busy schedule always included a 3 p.m. stop on Main Street. I remember being very suspicious at how Santa could find time for our town, especially on that day, but I played along.

After the early afternoon matinee at the Roxy, kids and their parents gathered up at the Main Street intersection and waited for the fire truck to come down the street. There perched on top was Santa. It was amazing how often he bore such a striking resemblance to Clarence Chase and, in later years, to Tom Donahue. Each sack of goodies would be the same each year—an orange, plenty of peanuts, and that rock-hard colored candy associated only with Christmastime.

My Grandma Maggie, even in the years after she closed down her beloved coffee shop on Main Street, always disappeared on the afternoon of Christmas Eve for a couple hours to do something for Les Swanson up at his Gamble’s Store. I could never understand just what it was she did up there, but I recall it was an event only adults were allowed to attend. Eventually I learned it was she who made and served the Tom & Jerrys to Les and Irene’s customers and business colleagues.

Determined to get their holiday mail delivered to his Route 2 patrons, my dad without fail went out on his mail route on the morning of Christmas Eve, no matter the weather and the road conditions. He was always back, however, in time to help get the church ready for services at the supper hour.

We Presbyterians had church at about 5 o’clock—or maybe it was 6. The choir sang, and we Sunday School kids did our thing, more often than not in those shepherd outfits for the boys and the tinsel-tinged angel wings for the girls. We were always there because, for one thing, Dad wouldn’t consider our being anywhere else and, for another thing Mom had to play the piano. That’s a tradition that caught on in our family.

They would have lunch afterward, but it wasn’t enjoyable because of the anticipation of getting home to open presents. We did ours on Christmas Eve. With no relatives in town or anywhere near—our distant relatives from Illinois or Colorado, when they did come to visit in Onida came in the summertime for obvious reasons—there was usually Mom and Dad, brother John and I, Grandma Maggie, and of course Ada.

Ada Jordan was the only babysitter I remember. A retired school teacher who lived a block away over on Main Street, Ada was part of our family, especially on Christmas and other special occasions. I don’t recall for sure, but likely it was her influence that prompted us to have our own family Christmas program at home before the gift opening. Having started piano lessons from Virginia Fosness about age 6, I had to play a carol or two. Growing up four years younger than I, John never had a choice about being part of the program. He had to sing, or in later years play his clarinet, or read a Christmas story. That’s another tradition that my own kids will tell you carried on to the next generation.

LaVonne Chamberlain—you younger folks knew her as LaVonne Donahue—and her mother Janet lived in an apartment at Doc and Tillie Hedman’s big house as did Grandma Maggie, so they were great family friends of ours. I recall some Christmas dinners shared at their place, especially after they built their own home. LaVonne was a marvelous cook, so it was never less than a feast when we shared the holiday there.

Remember there was no television to watch after dinner, so the choices were to play outdoors, play with our new toys, listen to the radio (yes, really!) or play cards or board games. Try a holiday without TV at your house this year (or next!) and see what it’s like!

In later years Christmas memories were created in our own home—first in Onida, then in Pierre in a big, old yet beautiful house on Prospect Street, which seemed especially suited for celebrating holidays. For the past 20-plus years our Christmases have been divided between Pierre and Rapid City, and they became blessed events with the arrival of grandchildren in my life. While this year for obvious safety reasons we absolutely will not get the whole gang together in one house for a wild, chaotic opening of gifts, we can still remember such evenings from the past and look forward to future Christmases when such a gathering is possible.

At my age I’m thankful to be able to celebrate Christmas any time and anywhere! Experiencing this holiday through the eyes of grandkids has been joy of a whole new kind. I hope I’m still around a year from now when spending Christmas with the kids and the grandkids will be possible. But in the meantime, I will remember previous holidays and especially recall the long-ago ones in my hometown of Onida where, in my eyes at least, Christmas began.

Merry Christmas and happy holidays, everyone. Yes, everyone. And this year in this state, that’s one thing that’s hard to say and really mean.




The spirit of giving and how youngsters need to learn it at an early age are the subjects of one of my all-time favorite e-mail freebies—you know, those articles, stories, tales that someone forwards to someone else who passes them on to someone else who sends them to you. It’s a feel-good story, and we can use those these days. So here it is:

I remember my first Christmas adventure with Grandma. I was just a kid. I remember tearing across town on my bike to visit her on the day my big sister dropped the bomb. “There is no Santa Claus,” she had jeered. “Even dummies know that!”

My grandma was not the gushy kind, never had been. I fled to her that day because I knew she would be straight with me. I knew Grandma always told the truth, and I knew that the truth always went down a whole lot easier when swallowed with one of her world-famous cinnamon buns. I knew they were world-famous because Grandma said so. It had to be true.

Grandma was home, and the buns were still warm. Between bites I told her everything. She was ready for me. “No Santa Claus?” she snorted. “Ridiculous! Don’t believe it. That rumor has been going around for years, and it makes me mad. Now put on your coat and let’s go.”

“Go? Go where, Grandma?” I asked. I hadn’t even finished my second world-famous cinnamon bun.

“Where” turned out to be Kerby’s General Store, the one store in town that had a little bit of just about everything. As we walked through its doors, Grandma handed me ten dollars. That was a bundle in those days.

“Take this money,” she said, “and buy something for someone who needs it. I’ll wait for you in the car.” Then she turned and walked out of Kerby’s.

I was only 8 years old. I’d often gone shopping with my mother, but never had I shopped for anything all by myself. The store seemed big and crowded, full
of people scrambling to finish their Christmas shopping. For a few moments I just stood there, confused, clutching the $10 bill, wondering what to buy and for whom on earth to buy it.

I thought of everybody I knew—my family, my friends, my neighbors, the kids at school, the people who went to my church. I was just about thought out when I suddenly thought of Bobby Decker. He was a kid with bad breath and messy hair, and he sat right behind me in Mrs. Pollock’s second-grade class.

Bobby Decker didn’t have a coat. I knew that because he never went out to recess during the winter. His mother always wrote a note, telling the teacher that he had a cough, but all of us kids knew that Bobby Decker didn’t have a cough. He had no good coat. I fingered the $10 bill with growing excitement. I would buy Bobby Decker a coat!

I settled on a red corduroy one that had a hood on it. It looked really warm, and he would like that. “Is this a Christmas present for someone?” the lady behind the counter asked kindly as I laid down my ten dollars.

“Yes, ma’am,” I replied shyly. “It’s for Bobby.”

The nice lady smiled at me as I told her about how Bobby really needed a good warm coat. I didn’t get any change, but she put the coat in a bag, smiled again and wished me a merry Christmas.

That evening Grandma helped me wrap the coat in Christmas paper and ribbons. A little tag fell out of the coat, and Grandma tucked it inside her Bible. On the present she wrote “To Bobby from Santa Claus.”

Grandma said that Santa always insisted on secrecy. Then she drove me over to Bobby Decker’s house, explaining as we went that I was now and forever officially one of Santa’s helpers.

Grandma parked down the street from Bobby’s house, and she and I crept noiselessly and hid in the bushes by his front walk. Then Grandma gave me a nudge.

“All right, Santa Claus,” she whispered. “Get going.”

I took a deep breath, dashed for his front door, threw the present down on his step, pounded his doorbell and flew back to the safety of the bushes and Grandma. Together we waited breathlessly in the darkness for the front door to open.

Finally it did, and there stood Bobby. Fifty years haven’t dimmed the thrill of those moments spent shivering beside Grandma in Bobby Decker’s bushes. That night I realized that those awful rumors about Santa Claus were just what Grandma said they were—ridiculous. Santa was alive and well, and we were on his team.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

And I still have the Bible with the coat tag tucked inside. The tag says “$19.95.”


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