‘Small world’ syndrome makes SD great

'Small world' syndrome makes SD great By Bob Karolevitz Another nice thing about South Dakota is its "small world" syndrome.

You can meet people anywhere, and if you find out they're from South Dakota, before you know it, you've got a conversation going about mutual acquaintances.

"Did you say you're from Hayes?" you ask. "Then you must have known Merlyn Pugh."

The same thing happens with Revillo, White River, Colome, Gettysburg, Britton or Irene. That's the advantage of being from a state with such a small population.

"We used to live in Hetland," they say. And you counter with memories of the Kvigne brothers and Art Matson.

Or the town might be Clark. And you ask if they knew any of the Brekkes.

Or maybe it's the Grosses at Bowdle, the Wieses at Armour, or the Peschls in De Smet.

No matter, there's usually a connection!

The grotto at Fulton, the Tripplers in Canova, the abbey at Marvin, the Rasmussens south of Belvidere, melons at Forestburg, the old Stransky factory at Pukwana or the church at Hoven all spur reminiscences when you strike a chord with a fellow South Dakotan.

Of course, there are the usual tourist attractions � the Corn Palace, Wall Drug, the Cultural Heritage Center at Pierre, Al's Oasis, Czech Days in Tabor and Badlands � which natives like to talk about. But the reflections get more personal when the subject matter includes Merle Lofgren at McLaughlin, Tom Tobin at Winner, Tim and Mary Waltner at Freeman or Manny Cimpl at Tabor.

Why, we even know our U.S. senators � Tom Daschle and Tim Johnson personally � and Tom Brokaw calls us Phyllis and Bob. I'm not name-dropping for name-dropping's sake; I'm just emphasizing how it is in a state with so few people compared to other commonwealths.

We've had the experience of living in a big city, and, believe me, it's not the same. We didn't even know our next-door neighbor.

South Dakotans have been accused of having an inferiority complex. Well, so be it. I'd rather have it that way than to be a state where all the residents brag about is their mountains, their temperatures, their ocean views and their baseball teams.

So we've got snow to shovel, hot winds in the summer, big bugs and a tight budget, but � as far as I'm concerned � those are challenges, not draw-backs.

I guess when it comes right down to it, I'm just a foot-dragger on the path of progress. Years ago I was a member of Lesser Seattle, Inc., a group of like-minded dinosaurs who decried the population growth in Boeing-land. We fought a losing battle, which led us back home to South Dakota.

We like it here!

Frankly, my fighting days are over. I don't oppose the good folks who try to make our state bigger and better. The urge to be No. 1 is commendable, but I think I'm just a status-quo guy stuck in the past.

I liked our tiny post offices our little schools, passenger trains, our mom-'n-pop stores, the small-town atmosphere and the fact that you knew people everywhere.

I know, though, that we can't turn back the calendar!

© Robert F. Karolevitz

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