These WERE ‘the good old days’

South Dakota Newspaper Association (SDNA) President Charley Najacht presents the 2013 SDNA Distinguished Service Award to Parker Knox on April 26 at the SDNA’s 131st annual convention held in Rapid City. (SDNA photo)

South Dakota Newspaper Association (SDNA) President Charley Najacht presents the 2013 SDNA Distinguished Service Award to Parker Knox on April 26 at the SDNA’s 131st annual convention held in Rapid City. (SDNA photo)

By Parker Knox

In the final episode of “The Office” earlier this month, the character named Andy Bernard spewed forth a bit of profundity when he said, “I wish there were a way to know you were in ‘the good old days’ before you left them.”

I, for one, did. I am fortunate in that I realize that the six years I am now ending have been the most fun years I could have imagined. My “good old days” will always be the years spent in Vermillion but which will have ended by the time May is history.

I’ll miss the community theater summer musicals and the announcer’s booth at Prentis Park and live music on the patio at Raziel’s. I’ll miss fireworks in September after the VHS homecoming coronation and cinnamon rolls on the lawn outside Concordia Lutheran during the Dakota Days parade and the trains rumbling through town with their whistles blowing at every single crossing.

I’ll miss watching the surging power of the current in the river out at Clay County Park and the night each summer when they let everybody’s dogs into the swimming pool and our own all-sports radio station. I’ll miss thrilling basketball wins over SDSU and the Sound of USD marching band and a university president who has time to stop and chat while out walking his dog.

I’ll miss the ever-changing physical landscape at USD and soccer games at Cotton Park and chasing squirrels and rabbits with Oliver on the campus. I’ll miss Spirit Mound and evenings at Pro’s when Matt, Jesse and Mike were the bartenders, and the tower of the UCC church.

I’ll miss Rhythm in Red and the sight of the Dome from many miles away and the organ in Aalfs Auditorium. I’ll miss Jack Powell’s Sunday morning coffee and the Al Neuharth Media Award programs and Rotary Club meetings.

“There’s a lot of beauty in ordinary things,” said the character of Pam Halpert on “The Office” the other night, “and isn’t that the point?” Yes, but more than all these things, there have been the people here. I’ll miss so many of them most of all.

I’ll miss my UCC church family from Steve Miller and Jill and their family to the office staff to the choir to master musicians Anthony and Gretchen Burbach to the Wednesday night kitchen crew to everybody else who worships there. I’ll miss my USD music department family from the professors and Laurie in the office to the talented students, all of whom welcomed me into their midst for five years and with whom it was an honor to make music. I’ll miss my Vermillion baseball family from the parents and grandparents of the ballplayers to the coaches to the boys on the teams, especially those awesome kids who gave me four state championships about which to write.

I’ll miss Nace and Lea at Hy-Vee and all the staff at the public library and the VHS coaches who were so much help in my covering Tanager sports. I’ll miss Jim Merrigan in the Prentis Park concession stand and the boys of the Paradise Fears band and the guys at Bob’s Sinclair and the good folks out at Dalesburg Lutheran.

I’ll miss Greg Merrigan’s voice in the Dome and Kari Jensen’s voice at VHS games and Dylan Fischbach, the epitome of a dedicated athlete. I’ll miss the guys at Rasmussen Motors who saved my 2000 Taurus from certain death numerous times and Dave Lias who gave me the chance to keep being a sportswriter and Jack and Phyllis Noble.

I’ll miss courtside seats at Coyote games with Nancy, Molly, Ann and Doris and the special treat of being here during the basketball careers of the likes of Dylan Grimsley and Eric Hall and Dustin Little and Amber Hegge and Louie Krogman and Alexis Yackley and Charlie Westbrook and Trevor Gruis and the Hoffman twins and Jodie Boss and Tyler Cain and Annie Roche and Mitch Begeman and Ricardo Andreotti and many others.

And all the other so-very-nice people of Vermillion, I’ll miss you, too. People like Ardell and Rula Hatch, a very elderly, very delightful couple, always smiling, always cordial despite their advancing ages. And Nick Severson, a loyal “cheerleader” at Coyote games even when the students aren’t. And so many others just like them, both old and young.

As Carol Burnett sang at the end of each of her TV shows, “I’m so glad we had this time together; Just to have a laugh and sing a song; Seems we just get started and before you know it comes the time we have to say, ‘So long.’”

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