South Dakota Is One Planet, New York City Is Another
It was years ago that I visited another planet. Decades ago in fact, back to the early 1980s. That's ancient times for a lot of folks. For those of us with a little more age on our bones, it really wasn't all that long ago. Reagan was in the White House, MTV was pretty much brand new, and my Minnesota Twins were still on the hunt for that first World Series title.
I was doing radio play-by-play for the South Dakota State University Jackrabbits and they would be playing in a Holiday Tournament in Hartford, Connecticut. My sidekick and I would be flying out with a bunch of Jack fans, landing at LaGuardia Airport. I remember it seemed like we'd be splashing into the ocean, but at the last minute the wheels touched down on a landing strip and we were there.
And thus began my experience on another planet.
I was a farm boy you see, raised on 80 acres of rented land a mile outside a very small town. Went to a small high school. For this lad, Sioux Falls was a big city and in 'those days' Sioux Falls was well less than half the size it is now. So as we got off that plane, got our luggage, and boarded a charter bus, I was off for my adventure on another planet.
As I recall we rode along from that airport to Hartford, Connecticut...and never left the city. Oh, we went from city to city I guess, but we never left the city. Suffice to say we didn't see a lot of countryside on the trip. What we did see was building after building. And plenty of cemeteries. Strange as it seems, there was a whole lot of cemeteries. I came to find out later that some of those dated back to the 1600's & 1700's.
We stayed in Hartford and SDSU had 2 games on consecutive nights. Did they win? I really don't recall (so let's just say yes) and off we went back to New York City. Same view on the way back, just on the other side of the freeway. With miles and miles of vehicles, I think I began to understand a little better about road rage.
Back in NYC, we had several hours before flying out and took a bus tour of the city...or at least parts of it. I remember going down Wall Street, Broadway, and out to Ellis Island. I saw the Statue of Liberty and yessir, it was quite a sight. But it wasn't what I remember most.
As we were standing outside the bus I started talking to the bus driver. He was maybe in his 50's, a really nice guy with that New York accent you're probably familiar with from TV and the movies. He asked where we were from and I said South Dakota and asked him if he'd ever been to Mt. Rushmore. He replied, no...he'd never been out of the city.
Let me repeat that. He was in his 50's and had never been out of the city of New York.
Wow. I thought, what if he was dropped out by Presho, Viborg, Burke, or Mobridge? Heck, for this gentleman, Sioux Falls was a village and milk didn't come from a cow, it came from the neighborhood market.
Yep, he'd think that we lived on an entirely different planet, just exactly like I thought he did. There's a good chance he might not be comfortable in our wide-open spaces, and I'm doggone sure I wouldn't be happy there in the never-ending concrete jungle.
So maybe we were both happy where we were. Him on his planet and me on mine.
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