Editor’s Note: Betty Olson is a South Dakota rancher and state legislator for District 28.
The weather sure caused a lot of excitement this week. Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday the wind just howled here and our yard is full of dead branches blown out of the tops of the trees. Thursday the wind went down and that evening we got 27 hundredths of rain and a lot of small hail that didn’t damage anything here. It was a whole different story east of Reva. All of the crops down there were hailed out, lots of windows were broken, including one at Slim Buttes Lutheran, a lot of buildings and vehicles were damaged and several windshields were busted out. The only good news was that Reva got a lot more rain than we did.
We missed the nasty weather that hit Newell Saturday evening. A gale-force wind did some damage around Newell and a tornado north of town tore down some buildings, including at least one occupied house, overturned trucks and trailers, and dumped a lot of big round bales into the draws. Scary!
Things keep needing to be fixed around here that have nothing to do with the weather and I got sent on a parts run to Bowman and Hettinger on Tuesday so these guys could get some of the machinery repaired.
Wednesday Casey went down to Bob Tenold’s to help them run concrete for a couple grain bins. They got done before noon so Norma fed them lunch and was able to make it to the church in time for our ladies aid meeting that afternoon. Linda Mohagen wasn’t able to attend because she and Henry had to go up to North Dakota to repair a lot of storm damage on their place up there, which also involved broken windows and downed trees.
Taz and Trig moved the sheep Wednesday morning before Taz left to ride the rodeo circuit again. Casey and Trig went to Buffalo that evening for the Buffalo Youth Rodeo and Missy met them there when she got off work.
I had a couple nice telephone conversations with Faye Longbreak from Eagle Butte this week. Kathy Nelson from the Timber Lake Topic had given me Faye’s phone number and I called Faye to see if she knew where a couple of my father’s old friends were buried. Elmer Red Bull served under my father, Sgt. Forest B. White, during WWII and was a very brave soldier. Dad was also the boxing coach and Elmer was one of his best boxers. When my folks ran the telephone office in Bison, Elmer’s brother used to come live with us occasionally. Dan Red Bull was a fabulous artist and he would stay at our house while he sold his beautiful artwork around the area.
Faye knew both Elmer and Dan so she did some research for me and after visiting with Alvina Hump in Eagle Butte, she called to tell me that they are probably buried at Bridger. Elmer was run over and killed on the highway at Lantry years ago and was buried there for a while, but his body was later moved to Bridger where his other family members were buried. I plan to visit the cemetery at Bridger the next time I go to Pierre to see if I can find them. Thank you Faye, Alvina, and Kathy – I really appreciate this.
Friday evening Reub and I went to Hettinger for a going-away party and picnic for Nathan Burkhalter at Mirror Lake Park. Nathan has been working for West River Health in Hettinger for quite a while. Nathan has taken a job with Casey Peterson in Rapid City and will be moving down there soon. Our granddaughter Acalia turned 7 on Friday so we stopped at their house to drop off her birthday present on our way to the park.
Saturday morning Reub and I joined a good share of Harding County headed to Bismarck for the wedding of Lark Welch and Chad Schon. Most of the Welch, Slaba, and Giannonatti relatives from Ludlow were there, Lark’s sister Jean Bellamy and her family came up from Nebraska, all of Lark’s family from Ludlow were there and Joe and Karen Wilkinson, representing half the population of Reva, brought Lark’s Uncle Donald Krambeer up with them. Our daughter Teri and Mike McNelis and boys came from Minnesota and Casey and Missy came up from the ranch, leaving Trig home to do all the chores for us because we didn’t make it home until late on Sunday. Lark and Chad had dated when they went to college at St. Mary’s several years ago and got back together when they both came back to teach at the college. Congratulations to the newlyweds!
The tornado near Newell reminded me of this:
The devastation from a tornado in Oklahoma in 2013 was not funny. Still there was humor…
An 83-year-old grandmother walked with her son and grandsons through what was left of her home. Part of the roof was in the front yard, and the siding from the front of the house was gone. When a grandson found her keys, she laughed and said, “Oh thank God. We can get in the house!”
Humor in tragic situations works best when it comes from those directly involved in a disaster because it is an honest attempt to help them cope with what happened.
The residents of Moore, Okla., which was the city hardest hit by the tornado, were no different. Those dealing with the disaster found some humor in the signs they posted on their destroyed homes. Some of the funniest, considering the damage done, were: “Remodeling”, “For sale, as is. New floor plan,” and “Open 24 hours.”
And, finally, one newspaper report in Moore showed a photo of a grinning resident in front of a pile of debris that used to be his home. He stands beside a sign that reads: “For Sale: Price Reduced: Some Assembly Required.”