It’s always great to get back to “your roots”… I was born in South Dakota AND I still have family there as well. I must admit it’s been quite a few years since I’ve been back to visit but here I am ready or not. My aunt Shirley from Auburn, Washington emailed the names and phone numbers of some of my cousins that still live in and around Aberdeen, South Dakota so just after leaving the park in North Dakota I made a phone call. Debbie (and Larry Ihde) had the lucky number. After a short conversation with Debbie, she asked….”What was your name again”? She then passed me off to Larry to see if I was real or a nut. After a short conversation about the possibility of our dropping by we were welcomed. Hell, if I would have been her I would have said “keep on truckin Cuz”… Well they didn’t do that, it seems that they dropped everything they had planned and TOTTALLY entertained us with food, drink, great conversation and made we were made to feel right at home. Louise and I were lucky enough to have found a site to park the coach at the Mina Lake State Park which just so happens to be right across the lake from Deb and Larry’s cabin. Our first night there, the four of us had a great dinner at the only restaurant around. It just so happens to be right on the shore of Mina Lake. Larry and I ordered a great fish dinner of Walleye. I told Louise a week ago that that was going to be one of my first dinners if I could find it. We not only found it, the Walleye was worth waiting for. The next day Deb invited all the family that lived within 100 miles to dinner so that we could have a chance to meet and re-live old and new lives (all the youngsters) and experiences. The next day Louise and I drove into Aberdeen for the day and a chance to visit with my cousin Greg. Greg owns the Sander’s Sew-N-Vac store in town. It’s been in the family for two generations and still doing very well. That night we joined aunt Shirley, Greg, Deb, and Larry on their “party boat” for a lake-side tour of homes and land.
We couldn’t have picked a better night for a boat ride. Well our “schedule” was calling so we bid our “good-bye” the next morning and headed east to continue our tour of South Dakota and beyond. When I was 13, my dad and mom sent my sister (8years old at the time) and me to Lanford, SD. One of the reasons was to help on the farm of one of my aunt and uncles and the other was for me to learn how to drive. I wont get into all the details but it was quite an experience. One thing their family liked to do after a full week of farming was go into Lanford on Friday nights. It was a good time for a beer and have conversations with the other farmers from the area. There is still one bar in town and this bank (not a bank any more..).
Our next destination was Amherst, SD. Amherst is the small town where my mother was raised. As we drove down Roadway 27 we came to a small sign that pointed us to Amherst 8 miles to the right. About a half mile into our quest we started finding that the road was full of pot holes and deterating fast in front of us. Just as we spotted what we thought was Amherst we passed the corner of this dirt, dusty road by 150 yards. Now you’ve got to understand we can’t back up with the car attached behind us so out we go to unhook. We got the car separated just in time for a huge dirt carrying truck to come up behind us. There was no way that he could make it without me moving the coach way over to the side and then he could barely make it by. We did find too late that there was another road just on the other side of the railroad tracks that would take us to the center of Amherst without having to unhook the car. Well we didn’t hook up, we just headed out for Amherst. Amherst consists of a double grain elevator, one bar/restaurant with 4 young “very private” gents having lunch, and a post office/museum and a dozen small homes.
That’s it… We spent about a half hour looking at the pictures hung around the walls and found a picture of my mother and three of her brothers (my uncles) all from their high school days.
I told them I would send more pictures that I had and they seemed excited to get them. About 10 more miles to the north northeast is Britton, the town where I was born.
Unfortunately the hospital is no longer a hospital but an apartment building for the elderly but on the other hand, the new hospital is very nice. I’ve got to mention now that ever since we left Aberdeen, a large storm has been following us so with lightning flashing, thunder crashing, and heavy rain falling, we head out for Minnesota.