It seems to me that the negatives in our world are out to get the positives. I am not a scholar of such things, but you don’t (usually) have to hit me on the head with a board before I get it. How can anyone be right if no one is wrong? Sometimes it seems that everyone on this great earth wakes up frustrated and goes to bed angry. In the end, we all hang on to life as long as we can, because life is sweet, especially to those who know the end is much closer than the long ago beginning.
If you are still trying to figure out whose fault it was that you were traumatized when you were twelve, how can you enjoy life when you are 40 or 50 or 60? I see inspirational quotes, I hear beautiful music, and I feel alive. I turn on the news, look at the date of birth on my driver’s license, feel a new ache or pain, and I am fearful.
I’m not afraid of death. I’m afraid I won’t live long enough. There is a difference. There is a phrase that captures the essence of life. Without hope, there is nothing. I will add that without love, there is no hope. Love of nature, family, animals, flowers, God, other people, art, poetry, the seasons, reading, work, movies, history, and a million other things foster hope to those who look at it that way. No matter how oppressed we are, given the chance, inclination, and the support of another, I believe we can find hope and maybe even joy. Have you noticed I haven’t mentioned money at all.
It’s not easy to fight through pain and fear. I have succumbed to both more than once. I have used too much energy fighting the wrong battles, winning the wrong wars, and pointing my finger at the wrong people… but guess what?
I’m just like everybody else I know. We all have our crosses to bear. There will always be someone better off than I am, and there will always be those that suffer far more than I do.
I choose to have fun!!
I love this water tower. It was submitted by Nancy Authier. She embellished it, but it is a real photo of a real WT. I have chosen it to be the Beastertown water tower. Beastertown is another children’s book I am writing about the Beasterhop, who as most of you know, is a rabbit that rides on a bicycle. I am not going to blog the story this time, and I haven’t written it all yet, but I am having a ton of fun taking the photos for it. You know most of this already don’t you?
I am also editing Connie’s story for a book, and writing Dakota’s story, The Whiteboard House, showcasing my Water Tower Collection, and other things on the blog. In between all of these things, I sometimes throw in a load of laundry or say hi to Kip. I have some wonderful friends who pretend to understand me. Pat is especially good at that. I work a couple of days a week, but I can’t really count that because the lady I help out has become a good friend too. (I think you also know all of that.) Oh, and once in a while I go to Goodwill.
We get to go on RV trips, and really enjoy the friendship of some fun fellow RVer’s. When the stars are all aligned, we get to see a few of our 8 grand kids and 3 great grand kids, who are sometimes attached to our four kids and their husbands and wives. We also have 3 doggies and a cat who love us. The dogs mostly like Kip, but the cat likes me the best. Be careful what you wish for.
I can look at the photos I have accumulated in the last 2 years and feel blessed beyond my wildest dreams. I love people and animals that I have never met. Old friends have become new again, and I have come to really appreciate Murdo, the place where I grew up. I have been touched by so many, and my life has become so rich and fulfilled.
Yet…I still get sad, depressed, disappointed, unreasonable, irritated, tired, stubborn, and all those other stupid things.
How much do I know, and when did I know it? Don’t ask me, I’m too busy to answer a dumb question like that.
I was so disappointed yesterday. After walking with my friend Barbara, I stopped at GW to see what was newly old. My eyes went straight to a ceramic pig. She was a bank, I think. Anyway, she was purple and she was wearing a little tutu….And..a shiny crown.
I took my remarkable find to the check-out counter where the clerk looked all over my purple pig for a sticker with the price on it. She couldn’t find one. She said the rule is…if there is no price tag, they can’t sell the item until the next day when someone prices it. I know why they do this. People take price tags off things hoping they can get a better deal. That might work at the Church garage sale, but it is a punishable offense at the GW store.
So they said….
I started to write a poem in my head about Empress the purple pig. I got so attatched to her that I actually decided to stop by and visit her after work. I would take a picture of her…yes! That was a great idea! I could show how I saved her from crashing to the floor in some little kids room and breaking to smithereens.
On Wednesday, I would buy her. (At this point, I was willing to pay any price..within reason.) I would take Empress home and introduce her to all of my Beasterhops and dolls and show her my crowns. But that didn’t happen.
“We sold her about 15 minutes ago,” a different clerk said. “What??” I gasped. “Don’t you know the rules around here?” I frightened her, I think, but I had to leave anyway so she wouldn’t see me cry.
I thought it might help if I wrote a different poem about Empress.
“Then can we Pleeeze get back to Dakota’s story?”
“Yes Soo’-TAH..Good boy.”
I’m Empress the dancing pig. My agent thought he had me a gig.
But when it never did pan out, my owner kicked my pig can out.
She took me to the GW store…My price tag fell on the floor.
I fear no one will know my worth? My tutu barely fits my girth.
A real strange nice person wanted me. She said her heart was filled with glee!
Cause no one knew how much I cost. Another chance for me, was lost.
Couldn’t they just take a guess? Then I could be a great success!!
The stranger said not to worry, for tomorrow she would hurry.
She said, “I’ll come and buy you honey, shine your crown, and give you money
to fill your empty hole inside. You’ll wear that purple crown with pride!
She said she’d take me off this shelf and teach me to self help myself.
Well… that glorious life was not to be. Another person purchased me.
She didn’t give me a chance to show her how this pig can dance.
She took me to a real nice store. Will I stay here forever more?
She gave me a close inspection. She wanted me for her collection.
It seems I’m worth thousands more, than the price she paid at the Goodwill store.
The above story is true..I found this pig picture on the internet.. Empress was purple. This one goes well with my Francis Plumbing and Heating ceramic commode.
This is a rerun, but the message hasn’t changed. Gus is still living in California. He sees Billy almost every Saturday, and spends the holidays with my family or Billy’s. He even played Santa Claus for our Grandkids last Christmas.
We have been able to get out to California more often since Kip retired, and we travel more now in the RV. We are all very thankful you came into our lives Gus. Happy Birthday on 5/30.
I decided to do something a little different for today’s Murdo Girl, because my thoughts are on a very special person in my life, and he’s turning 85 in a couple of days.
Many of you Murdoites know Gus Gustafson. He and Mom had been married 38 years when she passed away on December 30, 2008. He had never been married before Mom, but he certainly knew how to be a great husband, second-Dad, and Grandpa.
Gus was such a great Santa Claus last Christmas Eve at our Daughter Heidi’s home. The little kids were very excited. After he changed clothes later, he walked through the kitchen and our Granddaughter Skyler said, “Are you Gus?” He said… uh..yes.” He thought, “oh no, she knows.” She said, “Santa has got some presents for you. When he called your name, he told us to put them in a pile.”
Mom was definitely one of a kind. I’ll copy her phrase here. Truer words were neverspoken, but life with her was never dull. Billy and I will be eternally grateful for the love and caring spirit Gus unfailingly demonstrated in all the years he shared his life with Loretta. If patience is a virtue, then he is the most virtuous person I know. Please understand, he would never say this about himself.
Mom and Gus did some traveling during the months the motel was closed for the winter. On one of their trips a shaggy dog found them. Some local kids said they knew his name was Trouble, but his owners were no longer around. Trouble didn’t have tags and seemed to be in need of humans, so Mom and Gus invited him to be their permanent companion.
It was a two-day trip back to Murdo, so they stayed in a motel that first night. When they got up the next morning, Mom opened the door of the motel room and let Trouble out. Gus expressed some concern. Maybe their new friend wouldn’t find his way back. Mom said, “Any dog that doesn’t know how to get back to its owners is good for nothing anyway.” Trouble knew a good deal when he saw it, and was back in time, ready to occupy his new place in the front seat of the car with Gus. Mom liked to sit in the back anyway, so she could lay down and rest when she wanted to.
Trouble enjoyed life at the motel. He learned to recognize Aunt Elna’s car, because he loved the leftovers she brought him. In fact, when he saw her car coming, he would run and get his pan to greet her. In his excitement, he would jump up on the driver’s side with the pan in his mouth and bang it on her window. Fearful he would scratch her car door, she started driving by and throwing the food out the window. That was just fine with Trouble. He had it in a flash.
I looked everywhere for the picture of my son Mason, who was about 3, and Trouble. Mom loved the picture, because of the story behind it. Mason is playing with Trouble and holding a toy sheep. The sheep was part of a set of farm animals that belonged to David Edwards, who lived across the street. David’s parents owned the Graham Motor Lodge. Mom occasionally took Mason over to play with David, and it appeared that Mason had purloined the sheep. Mom said she didn’t realize what had happened until one day David’s Mom Cynthia, mentioned that David knew all the animal sounds…except the sheep.
It was almost as much fun to holler, “Here Trouble,” as it was to call for Berferd, plus we could always say, “Here comes Trouble!” In later years, if Mom wasn’t feeling well, Trouble would instinctively know, and didn’t leave her side until he could see she felt better.
By the time I moved to Gillette, Wyoming, Mom and Gus had sold the motel and purchased a travel trailer. They moved to the Crazy Woman campground in Gillette where Gus worked construction, and Mom had a job she loved at the Rock Pile Museum across the street. They soon befriended Charlie and Becky, who were from back East and also lived in the Crazy Woman Campground. One day Becky was out hosing down their parking area and a fellow camper sped by in his pickup. The dust and dirt flew. Becky was irritated, so she turned her hose on him. He had his driver’s side window open so he got doused pretty good.
Later that evening, Charlie was sitting in his favorite chair enjoying the daily newspaper, when the door to their motor home opened and some guy threw a bucket of water all over him. Imagine Charlie’s surprise.
Mom and Becky were quite a pair. They loved to shop with coupons. Mom was really excited about one of her coupons until the cashier told her it was expired. “But that’s my best one,”she said. It must have ruined their whole shopping experience.
I hope I have remembered a few of Gus’s favorite stories. He still talks about Trouble and what a good dog he was.
Eventually, Mom, Gus, and Trouble moved to Ontario, California. My brother Bill’s company managed the parking at the Ontario Airport, and they did some work counting the in and out traffic for him . One day Mom left the airport to go get some donuts and accidentally got on the freeway. She said she told God if he got her safely off that freeway, she would never drive again. I think she kept that promise.
Gus still lives in Ontario and manages the RV park where the travel trailer has been parked for many years. He facilitates Bible study classes at the local Salvation Army, and also helps them distribute food to those in need. He enjoys steak night at the American Legion and helps out with their functions.
Every Saturday that Bill is in town, he meets Gus at the Pomona Fairplex, where they have simulcast horse racing. They always say they hope to break even, because they sure could use the money.
Gus comes to Texas once a year for Christmas or Thanksgiving, and we try to go see him at least once during the year. He spends other holidays with Bill and his family who live in Los Angeles. Gus’s nephew Mark and his wife Marlene live in Rapid City, so he visits them and their kids and grandkids.
He’s always interested in hearing news of the Sanderson family and other friends in Murdo. Gus was very saddened to hear of Dwight Hurst’s passing.
Gus is a stand-up guy and we love him very much. We hope you’ll join us in wishing him a happy 85th birthday (5/30), and continued good health. He shares the day with my Sister-in-law Liz, (Happy Birthday Liz.) Bill always takes them to the restaurant of their choice to celebrate.
It’s Monday morning at the Brick Help Yourself House. Murdo Girl and Lav are in what used to be the high school superintendent’s office before it was the Oblong Office, before it was the HYSTERIA (Help Your Self To Evolutionary Real Interesting Aid) Office.
MG: Just listen to all that racket going on out there Lav. People must be lined up for blocks just waiting to sign up for our DIY self help classes. We are finally getting the big break we need. Soon the money will be pouring in. I would bet my last bean on it.
Lav: (Looking out the window) Umm MG, What does demolition mean? Is it kinda like when there’s a big heavy ball being lifted way up into the sky by a crane? It’s beautiful to see, but there are no people standing in line…
MG: What?? (Murdo Girl runs over to the window just as the wrecking ball hits the window of the Rose Garden Room, which was named after the White House Rose Garden, only on account of a short growing season, the city decided to put the roses inside. The flower fertilizer creates quite a stench, but the roses are beautiful.)
They’re trying to knock this place down!! I thought we had another week to come up with the money to get this place out of hock. Do they have no shame? This multi-use brick house used to be Murdo’s answer to the White House. What are they thinking?
Lav: Well MG..it’s a pretty sad day. A pretty sad ending to our Next Pres Reign. I don’t know about you, but I’m feeling pretty sad. Think I’ll go hang my crown up. Then I’m going to make like a tree and leave before this whole place comes crashing down around us.
Murdo Girl doesn’t hear a word of what Lav just said, but she is feeling pretty sad. She decides to go down to the employee lounge for one last cup of coffee. The lounge is downstairs, so it will be a little while before the wrecking ball can get to it.
When she gets to the employee lounge, she is very surprised that no one is sitting at the table drinking coffee. Maybe it’s because all of the chairs are gone.
The coffee pot is gone too. Thanks for the memories employee lounge.
MG: I guess I’ll go on down to the gym. Maybe I’ll run into one of the gang. Funny, it’s been years since the Coyotes played basketball in here, but it still smells like dirty socks and butch wax. I have a lot of great memories of Next Pres Pressers here. I remember the time TC and the Queen got kidnapped and the bad guys released TC during one of the pressers and the electricity went out just as they took her blindfold off. It was dark down here and she thought she was blind. There’s nothing worse than a blind Town Crier unless it’s a Photo bombing Queen.
MG continues on her nostalgic tour of the Brick House, which is in the process of being destroyed by a wrecking ball.
MG: One of my fondest memories was of the Espressofest. That was DM’s brilliant idea. It would have been okay if the townspeople of Murdo hadn’t gone into caffeine overload.
EXCERPT of the Crown contest:
There are three judges including the Queen. They have been cautioned not to consider the value of the crowns. We don’t want to know. The Brick House gets to keep all the crowns as part of their take..I mean donations. It’s all “not for profit,” because we don’t want to have any tax troubles, which could keep the money tied up for years. This was the advice of our new Lawyer Gentril. That’s an Attorney General who can’t pass the bar. Ours turns into the Buffalo Bar every time he goes by, but at least we know where to find him.
The DM (Defense Monitor..He never can keep a secret), Bean Counter, (couldn’t find a bean if it was pasted on his forehead), The Gentril, and the Judge…(Queen E judged the Espressofest Crown contest. She was ruthless!)
MG: Well, I like nostalgia as much as the Next Pres, but I sort of feel like it’s time to move on. (A wrecking ball smashing against the side of your office tends to make you face reality.)
Murdo Girl makes her way to the back door…woops! There is no back door, so it’s off to the open space that used to be the front door. She is really feeling sad by this time. Not one shelf of her self help cabinet has stopped by to talk about old times.
Funny…They had seemed really interested in the new business model. Self help is the answer to every burning question I can think of except one…What’s next for the old Next Pres?
All of the staff and most of the townspeople, (well at least 3), were waiting on the front lawn. They were clapping. (clap, clap). Sherri the photographic drawer was drawing a photograph of the unbelievable scene! Carol the singer was belting out “Oh Here’s for Murdo Coyotes! A I was buzzing the building with her airplane, and you can bet Treason was right there with her.!!!!! DM, PICO, TC, and even the Queen were all there, and they were smiling from ear to ear!!! Wait..the 3 Murdoites turned out to be the body guards, Bart, Smart and Brave-heart. Too bad…they would have fit right in to the Self Help stuff. Speaking of someone who needs help…here comes Yram Sicnarf. All of her restraining orders must have been lifted.
Lav: (Comes running up to MG). Come on MG, she says. We’ve got to get to work!!
MG: Lav..This was all fun and games until the building got hurt, but you must get a hold of yourself and face reality. They are tearing this place apart brick by brick. There is no longer a The Brick House.
Photographic drawing by Sherri (copied from a photo taken by Dianna)
Lav Points to the sky…A I is flying low..and what’s this I see? A Banner?
“Come toThe Bored Help Your Self House, or just The Bored House for short..Which happens to be painted white.”
Lav: We’re going to the REAL White House MG. Yup… We don’t even have to go to Washington DC. We’re going to set up shop at the old grade school right down the street, and it’s built from wood instead of brick! We even have a bored crown for you MG.
MG: You spell that b-o-a-r-d Lav!!
Lav: Pico is down there getting all the nuts and mints ready, and guess what else? Today is her birthday so we’re giving her a help yourself self help surprise party!
Everybody claps (clap clap), and cheers, (cheer cheer).
HAPPY BIRTHDAY PICO!!!
You looked so lovely at the Inaugracorination…Here’s the description of your memorable eco-friendly gown.
Pico will look lovely in her gown of plant leaves. She even found some tomato earrings. If anyone craves a salad later, I’m sure she’ll oblige. The only downside to the gown is that it has to be watered every 20 minutes. There’s a sign-up sheet in the men’s room.
Pico: My official title is Person In Charge Of Brick House Functions, or Pico for short. Picobhf was too hard to spit out. I plan all the parties of which there have been many. Today all I had to do was put out a few nuts and mints and clean the bathrooms.
Well, I finally got my Connie like haircut. It’s very short and it’s even cut up around my ears. I shape little backwards curls in front of each ear and tape it down while it dries. I had a problem at first, because I used too much tape and left it on too long. I ended up with big red welts on my cheeks. That hurt a little. I still tape my bangs too. I’m sure that must be how Connie fixes her hair.
I thought I was finally firming up my style, then yesterday a bunch of us were standing in the stairwell outside the girls locker room and Mary Lehr said, “Your hair is really shiny Mary. Have you ever thought about growing it out?” I didn’t know what to think. I just got it cut a week ago! The longest hair on my head is 2 1/2 inches from my scalp. Somehow I felt disappointed. I bet no one has ever said anything like that to Connie Jackson. You wouldn’t believe how much I look like her…except she’s got brown eyes, and she’s a little taller. She’s smarter, prettier, and has a few more Connie like clothes than I do. Other than that, we’re like twins.
I was the victim of a freak accident yesterday. I had a saxophone lesson, and when I came out of the auditorium, it was raining and I got pretty wet. I started down the stairs of the high school to put my horn away in the coat room, and I slipped on the steps. My saxophone and I went end over end all the way down to the bottom. Those steps are concrete and they’ve been painted with slick grey paint.
Everybody was in class when it happened, and I knew the racket my horn and I made must have echoed throughout the school. I expected to see people come running. As soon as I was sure my saxophone and I were okay, I yelled, “IT’S JUST ME.” I don’t know exactly why I yelled that instead of saying “I’m okay,” or just not say anything. I had to go up the stairs and walk into Mrs. Peter’s English class. She just smiled, but another Noname said, “Did you have a nice trip?” Everybody started laughing. I didn’t think it was a bit funny. I could have broken my neck.
This is how the Draper girls wear their hair
Since freshmen can’t be cheerleaders, I couldn’t try out for that, so I decided to go out for girl’s basketball. I figured since my Dad and brother were good, I must be a natural. Mr. Haugland and Mr. Thune are the coaches.
It turns out I can shoot, but I can’t dribble. I can’t see where I’m going and dribble at the same time. I haven’t even tried to chew gum. In other words, I’m not any good. I was dribbling at practice and Mr. Haugland blew his whistle at me. He said, “What are you going to do with the ball over there Mary…peel it and eat it? I did kind of have myself backed into a corner. We play 1/2 court, so we won’t get so tired I guess. It doesn’t work.
I had one game that gave me hope at first. We played Draper and those girls are mean! I guess it would be nicer if I said aggressive. They have one aggressive girl named Sheila. She’s good, and she’s tough. I had to do a jump ball with her, and I swear she elbowed me and knocked my uncoordinated self on my rear. I did have a good run though and made 4 baskets in a row. After that, I lost the ball 4 times in a row, so I had to sit the rest of the game out. Too bad.
For a girl who considers herself athletic, I’m sure not good at much. I have scratched off tennis, skiing and basketball. You’re probably thinking I don’t stick with anything long enough, but I can figure out pretty fast if I’m going to be any good at something. I think I would be really good in track, but we don’t have girl’s track. (FYI…Connie Jackson is a good basketball player.)
Great form, but isn’t that the ball behind you?I’m going to start practicing my cheerleader moves so I’ll be ready for tryouts in the spring, but in the meantime, Cynthia Bork is going to teach me how to play the guitar. I’ve already had a couple of lessons. I’ve learned two chords, which is enough to play “The House of the Rising Sun.”
I sing in the choir too. I’m an Alto. I think Mr. Palmer decided that I should be an Alto, because to harmonize you only need to hit three notes. It’s actually pretty boring to be an Alto. I can sing 2nd Soprano too if I stand by someone who’s good. Mr. Palmer even let me sing with a little group for a banquet at the Methodist Church. We sang, “April Showers.” Cynthia Bork, Rita Iversen and Jennifer Iverson were in the group and they all have beautiful singing voices.
Of course, I still play the saxophone, but after my last contest, I don’t know if Sydney will accompany me on the piano again.
That pretty much covers my current extra curricular activities.
I rode Ko’-LAH, and led Mahkah’s horse, Tawaiciya to the creek. I let them drink their fill of water and graze on grass we found near the stream. I knew I must let them rest before turning back and making our way to the cabin. Mahkah said it is not good to work a horse right after they drink a lot of water. We had made it down in good time, but going back up, would be an arduous journey.
I wondered what I would find when we got back to the spot where I had separated from my brother. I knew he had no idea what to expect when he got to the cabin, but since Soo’-TAH had not given us any kind of sign, something must be very wrong.
We had about an hour to go, and not much more than that before we would be enveloped in darkness, when I remembered Mahkah had asked me to hide the doll. I untied her from my leg and looked around for a place where she would be protected from wind and weather. I also needed to be able to find her later.
I found a cavity in one of the trees that appeared suitable and started to hide her there. I looked at her for a long while, wondering what secret she held. She had dark skin and hair, but she was not dressed in the style of anyone I had ever seen. I noticed her eyes were hazel in color, not the dark brown of my heritage. I wanted to thoroughly inspect her, but I knew I didn’t have the time if I was going to get back and get the horses tied up before dark. As I laid her in her safe haven, I noticed one of her stocking covered legs looked different from the other. I looked more closely and could see something had been carefully woven into the fabric of the stocking. It glistened as it caught the quickly fading light. When I moved it with my finger, something came loose, or actually started to unravel from the threads of the fabric. It was a silver chain. I carefully pulled the chain until I finally came to the end. Something was embedded inside the little doll’s leg, but there was only a small hole..just big enough for the chain. I couldn’t figure out how to remove what was inside, without damaging the doll.
My brother had insisted I hide the princess doll, so that’s what I did. I hoped her secret would be safe until we came back to get her.
I made it safely back to the spot where we had tied the horses before, and made sure they were secure before finding the big rock Mahkah and I had both rested on while we waited for Soo’-TAH. It was getting very dark by this time, so I couldn’t see very well, but there were no signs that Mahkah had been there since he left all those hours earlier.
Though I was filled with fear, I managed to keep myself calm. I was not totally defenseless. I had something else tied to my leg…a very sharp knife.
The minutes passed. I would wait until dawn to decide what my next move would be. The night was very still. All I heard was a light breeze moving through the tall pine trees. Then I heard something different. It sounded as though someone was walking through the trees toward my hiding spot. I quickly knelt down behind the rock and reached for my weapon. My heart was pounding in my ears, so I had to depend on whatever shadows I could see. I silently prayed to God and the Great Spirit to give me courage and all the quickness I would need to defend myself.
I had not prepared myself for what I saw come through the trees. It was Soo’-TAH, and he was alone and hurt.
This was the first time I had ever ridden horseback. I knew I rode well, but after two days, I was ready to get to our destination. Mahkah and I were both travel weary, although considering he barely had time to recover from his sickness, he was doing remarkably well.
A few minutes later he said we were getting close to the cabin where we hoped to find our Mother and maybe our Father. We knew Soo’-TAH would be there too. He should have arrived early the day before. As we grew nearer, Mahkah suddenly dismounted his horse and told me to do the same.
“We will wait here,” he said. “I will give Soo’-TAH a signal that will tell him we are close by. If all is clear, he will come for us. If something is not right, and it’s not safe for us to approach the cabin, he will find a way to signal us as well.” Mahkah cupped his hands to his mouth and I heard him make a high pitched whistling sound.. like a wounded bird. He only made the sound once, then we sat down on a nearby rock to wait.
We had stopped at a creek an hour before and watered our horses. It had been almost dawn the day before when we got as far as Sylvan Lake. It was beyond beautiful, but the path to the cabin was just as remote and difficult to travel as Mahkah said it would be. The rocks had been treacherous. Twice we had to dismount and walk, leading the horses, for one to two miles.
Vintage pictures of Cathedral Spires (Left) near Sylvan Lake, and Needles Highway where towering rocks in a thousand shapes guard the (now) highway.
The Needles Highway is a spectacular drive through pine and spruce forests, surrounded by birch and aspen and rugged granite mountains.
The road’s name comes from the needle-like granite formations which seem to pierce the horizon along the highway.
The roadway was carefully planned by former South Dakota Governor Peter Norbeck, who marked the entire course on foot and by horseback. Construction was completed in 1922. This part of Dakota’s story takes place in 1900.
Visitors traveling the highway pass Sylvan Lake and a unique rock formation called the Needle’s Eye, named for the opening created by wind, rain, freezing and thawing.
We sat silently for more than an hour. We had a fair amount of water in our canteens, but we had finished the last of our jerky. It was clear that Mahkah did not want us to talk. We couldn’t take the chance that the men who would most certainly do us harm, had already found the cabin, and would hear us.
I still had so many questions. Why did Mahkah ask me to strap the Indian Princess doll to my leg so she would be hidden under my split skirt? I had a fair idea as to why the authorities were trying to locate our Mother and Father. They must have been seen as guilty for crimes against the United States Army. Our Father was an Officer of the US Cavalry and was married to a Lakota Sioux woman. They had become sympathizers to the Indian’s plight after discovering the white man’s true intentions. Our parents and Grandfather had used William Miles’ position as a roving Ambassador to help keep the peace while a better solution to the breaking of the treaty was found. He Sapa belonged to the tribes it had been given to.
Mahkah had told me as much while we were finding our way to the cabin. He said our Grandfather, who was a Lakota Sioux Chief, had tried to influence his people to keep peace with the US Government, but when he found that all the children who were taken from the Reservations and put in boarding schools, were forced to abandon their culture and become Americanized, he became furious.
He was outraged when he realized the children had been baptized as Episcopalians, given Christian names, dressed like soldiers, and were not learning English, but instead were made to farm and do industrial work. He was convinced the young people should learn the English language so in future communications they wouldn’t have to rely on translators, who might purposely give them wrong information.
At that point Blue Water removed the children of his tribe from the Carlisle school and instantly found the goodwill of many whites had evaporated.
Kunci was the Chief’s wife, and had lived with her daughter and Lieutenant Miles in their home, where she cared for their twin children, Mahkah and Dakota. Kunci and her daughter Makawee, had been forced to take the children and flee almost 14 years ago. They were afraid it would become known that Chief Blue Water no longer trusted the Government to keep their promises and they could no longer rely on him to help calm the tense situations the soldiers found themselves in. What would happen to the family then? It was better for Blue Water’s family to take things into their own hands.
It proved to be an accurate prediction, only at that point, Lieutenant Miles and his wife Makawee were not part of the fray. It was only Blue Water’s influence the US Government feared.
Winding Tail, a nephew of the old chief, Black Crow, threatened to shoot Blue Water, and continued trying to humiliate him with the fact that he was chief not by the will of the tribe, but by the guns of the white soldiers. Black Crow took up his gun and fulfilled his threat. Black Crow shot Blue Water in the chest, killing him.
Before Blue Water was killed, Kunci took little Dakota to one of the boarding schools that William Miles had located. He found it not to be as cruel to the children as some of the others. He had made a simple deal with Miss Harper. He would give her the agreed upon amount of cash each month, and his Mother -in- law would work as hard and long as they wished, in exchange for a safe haven for her and her granddaughter. Miss Harper had been cruel to Dakota, first physically, then mentally, but she had still received and gladly accepted the money each month. She remained silent as to the knowledge of the relationship of Lieutenant Miles with the Lakota tribe and kept from Dakota the fact that her Grandmother was there. She also treated Kunci reasonably well. When she was too old and feeble for hard physical labor, Miss Harper had allowed Kunci to tend to her flowers and live in a dug-out on a distant part of the school property. Miss Harper was not aware of the fact that before she was old enough to leave, Kunci had made contact with Dakota.
Another hour passed and Soo’-TAH had not come to get Mahkah and me, or given us a sign that he knew we were there. It was too dangerous for us to approach the cabin without the assurance we wouldn’t be ambushed. It wouldn’t be long before the horses would become restless. I could tell Mahkah was deep in thought. It seemed like an eternity before he finally spoke.
“I’m going to get closer to the cabin. Something is wrong, and we can’t wait any longer. You go to the horses. Ride Ko’-LAH and lead my horse to the stream we took them to earlier. Come back to the same spot and tie them up again. Wait here for me my Tanke, my beautiful sister…I’m not sure if either of us will be safe. Hide the doll. If something should happen to us, she must not get into the wrong hands.”
Before he left, he handed me an envelope and told me to read it later. He had a sad look in his beautiful eyes. I don’t think I have ever been more fearful, but I did what he said, and I prayed. I asked the Great God that I believed in to let me see my Mother… in this life. I prayed for all of us, but I prayed hardest for the fierce protector. If there was a way for him to save us, Soo’-TAH would find it.
I know the Little Murdo Girl and her brother Billy, really love their Mom. Billy took her to the races for Mother’s Day, but really, what could be better than a heartfelt poem from your daughter?
Hi Mom, I called to…Mary is that you?
Yes Mom, I want to…I called Ella today. I had some “news” to tell. To get a word in edgewise, I really had to yell!
Well, Mom how long…Oh, we talked an hour, and it was on my dime. If she wants to talk again, she’ll have to call next time.
So, Mom…I’d tell you what she said, but it was blah, blah, blah. If you really want the truth, I forgot it, ha, ha, ha.
I only have a minute Mo…I went shopping with my coupons. I thought I’d save a ton. They told me they were all expired, no more two for one. Say, last time I saw you, I was constipated. Did I tell you aloe vera juice is very overrated? I use Metamucil now, two teaspoons to a cup. You should try it dear, you really sound bound up.
I have a question Mo…I have a tickle in my throat. I’m sure that I’ll start coughin. It’s been fun catching up. You should call more often.
I’ve been trying to reach you Mom, but it’s been really hard….
Oh never mind, this Mother’s Day, I’ll just send a card.
I heard her hang the phone up. She was in a tizzy.
I knew, if I called back again, the line would still be busy.
She’d be calling sister Ella, so they can talk in rhymes.
I know for sure that every day, they talk at least 3 times.