There is nothing dumber than announcing to the world you will be out of town for a period of time. It makes your house a target.
I will be on vacation next week as my youngest daughter is getting married.
Now, before I go any further I must state this to avoid lawsuits. Bubba the rottweiler will be at home. He is being looked after by my oldest daughter, who is staying in Dodge City to work and will be house-sitting for us while making sure Bubba doesn’t eat the couch.
In other words, enter my house at your own risk. Bubba doesn’t like strangers and my daughter is capable of talking you to death.
You’ve been warned.
Now, I am traveling to Canada south for my daughter’s wedding. The wedding is taking place in Minnesota, just shy of the border.
What do I get out of this trip? One day visiting the town I grew up in until junior high — Mitchell, South Dakota. I get to relive one of my favorite childhood memories of the town as my wife and I will be watching fireworks over Lake Mitchell on the 4th of July.
We’ll also get to stop at the Corn Palace. The Corn Palace has been in Mitchell since the late 1800s, burned down once, but was rebuilt. It attracts thousands of tourists each year to see new murals made with corn and other grains on the outside of the building.
Inside it has lots of tourist things and during the rest of the year hosts basketball games, wrestling tournaments, stage productions and acts.
I personally haven’t been inside the Corn Palace since I was in eighth grade, so I can see a stop while I’m in town.
The community has changed a lot since I was a child. It’s much bigger, has lots more retail and industry. The downtown area is still thriving — like it did when I lived there. Of course, back then, there was no Walmart, no Cabela’s in town. People went downtown to shop for everything. We had a Woolworth and a Montgomery Ward’s downtown.
While both of them are long gone, Harve’s Sport Shop and Woeffel’s Jewelry are still downtown.
I spent a lot of time during the summer at Caldwell Park, the baseball and softball complex in town. I loved going to Mitchell Moonlighter’s games. The Moonlighter’s were an amateur baseball team in town.
Amateur baseball is big in South Dakota as Mitchell used to have two teams with the Bankers also playing in Caldwell Park. I used to chase foul balls and get a dime at the concession stand for each one brought back. I also spent 2 summers working the scoreboard in right field before it was finally replaced with an electric scoreboard.
I intend to drive through the old neighborhood, see the old house. I understand where I went to elementary school — Whittier Elementary — has been converted into condo units. I may have to stop by and see what it looks like.
Our old house was a three-story with a great big front porch and four evergreen trees — two on each side of our approach sidewalk — in the front yard. We had a decent size lot in the back yard which was the neighborhood football field until we all outgrew it.
There is no lot now. A two-car garage was added to the house and the four evergreens were taken out years ago.
I wonder if my dad and I’s favorite crappie spot is still there at Lake Mitchell? It had a pump right next to it and the crappie favored it due to the warmer water. We would catch 80 a trip, but would only go once a month during summer because my mom would freeze the filets and we had them all the time.
I’m not sure the pump house is still operable or even there, so, while I know the spot is still there at the lake, I have no idea if it still attracts crappie the way it used to.
That spot was across the river from the golf course clubhouse. Lakeview Golf Course was only 9 holes back then. Since, it’s become 18 holes and the clubhouse was moved to a different location.
The Mitchell Kernels are black and gold in color. The school mascot is an ear of corn named Cornelius. Dakota Wesleyan University is also there. The Tigers, blue and white in color, play NAIA Division II athletics.
A local radio station is KORN and, yes, it was KORN before Hee Haw used it on TV.
I’ve lost touch with everyone from my time in Mitchell. After all, it was 37 years ago. When I lived there a lot of relatives did too. Most of them moved to the Minneapolis-St. Paul area. Some live in Sioux Falls, but not a single Bluhm still resides in Mitchell. My grandmother was the last family resident before she passed away many years ago.
I loved it there. Still do. Would love to return. Except for winter, it’s brittle cold up there. Spring is nice, but with all the ice and snow, it tends to be sloppy, muddy.
But Mitchell holds a lot of memories and good times for me. I’m coming for a visit Mitchell.
Oh, yeah, and then it’s 6 days in Dilworth for my daughter’s wedding. I get Independence Day in Mitchell, my wife gets 6 days with our baby girl and then we give her away and get to come back to Dodge City.
Maybe I can convince my wife to stop in Mitchell again on the way back? Either way I’m looking forward to Mitchell and, if I must confess, to the wedding. I’m happy my oldest daughter is looking after Bubba and he can stay home and not be boarded.
Remember folks. Bubba is home. He doesn’t like strangers and it’s a small house. Not many places to try and hide.
Look out Mitchell, here I come.
Roger Bluhm is the managing editor of the Dodge City Daily Globe. Follow him on Twitter @roger_dcglobe or email him at email@example.com.