Murdo Girl…The rhythm of life..In our hometowns memories are fresh

Presho, South Dakota was laid out in 1905 and was named after J.S. Presho, a cattleman.

Murdo, South Dakota was founded in about 1907 and was named in honor of cattle baron, Murdo MacKenzie.

Sorry, Sherri…Unique as always, Murdo was the (first) name of the cattle baron it was named after. I think cattle barons must have been a little higher up than cattlemen as far as the social implications were concerned.

In fact, I was unable to find a photograph of Mr. Presho. Mr. MacKenzie was easy to find as he was reported to be the most influential cattle baron in America.

Seriously, even though the combined population of both bergs, today, doesn’t quite reach a thousand, we love our respective hometowns and feel blessed to have grown up where we did. We understand the quote from Adele: In my hometown the memories are fresh.

I love the way Sherri (Swinson) Miller described her family life. There was no way I could alter it or write it as well as she did…Her story continues.

Dad was also a volunteer fireman and went on many calls transporting people that were injured in car accidents along the old highway. Unfortunately, there were many of these sad incidents, as the highway had some pretty treacherous curves along it. Our main car was always a station wagon, so if they needed additional transportation to get people to the hospital in Pierre or Chamberlain, Dad was always willing to help.

On the contracting side of his Swinson Plumbing and Heating and Contracting business, we figured out that he had built around 150 homes in the Presho and surrounding area. He also built the Presho Bank and Presho/now Lyman auditorium, to name a few of the businesses he was involved in.

When it comes to my dad (I feel exactly the same way about my mom, too!) My motto is that he was the best dad ever and he still is.

Growing up a Swinson, with my two wonderful parents and two beautiful sisters, in the great community of Presho is a blessing beyond belief. I thank God every day that he blessed me in the way he did and continues to do so.

THE GRANDFATHER CLOCK as dictated by Sherri Miller (FF into the 70s)

Back in the 70s Sherri’s Mom and Dad bought a grandfather clock at an auction in Presho, SD where they lived. As it turned out, the clock belonged to someone who lived just a couple of blocks from them, so they ended up hand carrying it down the street to their house.

1-Grandfather clock

The clock soon became Mr. Swinson’s pride and joy and he seldom let anyone else touch it. His beautiful clock had to be wound each week before the weights were all the way to the bottom. If they do get to the bottom, the clock can lock up and fixing it requires a clock repair expert. Sherri said that throughout the years, it has only locked up on them once. They had to take the non-working parts out, wrap them very carefully and haul them to Bridgwater, which is about 135 miles from Presho. A couple of weeks later, they had to drive back and pick them up. They never wanted to do that again, so Mr. Swinson was very careful to wind the clock on time each week.

The grandfather clock has three in the middle, that controls the time, and two on each side that control the chimes. When Sherri’s Dad started slowing down, he finally decided to let her take over the task of winding the clock. When he became really sick last November and had to go to the hospital, winding the clock was not on Sherri’s mind. When she got back to Presho a few weeks later, the weights on the grandfather clock had reached the bottom and everything on the clock had stopped. She had to get back to Pierre, (SD), so she wasn’t able to do anything with it on that trip.

In late December, she decided to try winding it to see what happened. The clock timing actually started to work, which meant the middle weight was moving down like it should. After that, Sherri was careful to rewind the clock part weekly. The two weights on the outside however, did not move, which meant the clock did not chime on the quarter, half, or on the hour. Fearing he would get upset, Sherri decided not to share this with her Dad.

Several weeks after Mr. Swinson came home, Sherri was helping him to the bedroom and he stopped at the clock and asked, “Is the clock not working?” Sherri responded that it was and it was keeping perfect time. He didn’t say anything more about it until a few days before his passing, when he asked her again if the clock was working. He said he couldn’t hear it chime. This time she told him what had happened. Sherri said he remained calm and said, “If I were able and if I could get to it, I know I could fix it.” Sherri told him she knew he could too, but he couldn’t get to it and they were not going to worry about it now. No more was said.

Sherri and her sisters had tried to fix the chimes several times over the previous three months, but to no avail. Then a few days after her Dad died, the clock needed winding. After she wound it, the clock made a little chime. She was shocked, but thought maybe she had touched something when she pulled the weight up, that caused the sound. That happened around 7:35, so Sherri and her sister sat there watching it, and waited for 7:45 to get there. Sure enough, they heard a small chime. They waited for it to come to the hour of eight o’clock. They were so excited when they heard the “minute before” chime and then the count..8 for each hour. Sherri and her sister listened to each chime of the grandfather clock in amazement. The clock has been working perfectly ever since.

Pete Swinson with his daughters. He lived to see his 100th birthday, and was a man loved by all.

The sisters were convinced the first thing their Dad did when he left, was to get over to that clock and fix it. It was his way of answering the request Sherri had asked of her dad shortly after he died. She asked him to please find a way to let her know he was okay. Each time she hears the chimes, she knows her Mom and her Dad are together, and everything is as it should be.

Sherri Miller with her dad, Pete Swinson

Remember the song most of us learned when we were kids? I felt this to be an appropriate way to end this poignant story…MG

My grandfather’s clock was too tall for the shelf
So it stood ninety years on the floor.
It was taller by half than the old man himself
But it weighed not a pennyweight more.

Ninety years without slumbering
Tic toc tic toc
His life’s seconds numbering
Tic toc tic toc
It stopped, short, never to go again
When the old man died.

The man in the song must not have had a very special and loving daughter, who believes her Dad is now in heaven catching up with her Mom. Don’t you think he must have said this to his wife? “Sorry I’m a little late, honey, but I had to fix the clock for Sherri. She asked me to give her a sign that all is well.

Sherri believes she and her sisters now have two guardian Angels.

I believe our Angels will do almost anything to get our attention.

3 thoughts on “Murdo Girl…The rhythm of life..In our hometowns memories are fresh

  1. lifelessons June 7, 2021 / 11:56 pm

    What a sweet story. This seems like a lovely family, Mary. How do you know them?


    • Mary Francis McNinch June 8, 2021 / 6:39 am

      Sherri somehow discovered the Murdo Girl stories back in 2015 and has been a faithful reader. We met for the first time the summer of 2017 when Kip and I stopped in Presho with the RV. We had a 3 hr lunch at Hutch’s with Sherri, Dianna and Dianna’s daughter, Amber. We saw Sherri again on another trip the next year.


      • lifelessons June 8, 2021 / 8:02 am

        I had forgotten about Hutch’s!!!!


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