Sunday Gazette-Mail from Charleston, West Virginia on September 10, 1972 · Page 25
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Sunday Gazette-Mail from Charleston, West Virginia · Page 25

Charleston, West Virginia
Issue Date:
Sunday, September 10, 1972
Page 25
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Page 25 article text (OCR)

South Dakota: Mother of Presidents ? George McGovern didn't exactly put South Dakota on the map. Hut he did send a lot of folks to their atlases to look up just wnere the'place is. What the book may not say It's a lovely place with lovely people, where the buffalo still roam u-nere sometimes is heard a discouraging word and the skies aren t cloudy enough all day. Storj By Sid Moody SOUTH DAKOTA-AP-There she stands, South Dakota, lost somewhere out West like a forgotten box car far, far from the city limits. If perceived at all, it is as a mother of Presidents-all stone. · That she might have born a real live one besides the Mt. Rushmore Four is a matter of some astonishment to South Dakotans as well as those of their countrymen wondering what and where a South Dakota is. As one native said, the state has a "hired hand complex", a sense of uneasiness, if not downright inferiority, that one of its own should dare stake a claim on the W h i t e House. Yet as George McGovern goes, or at least is, is South Dakota, a land where paradox plays more freely than the antelope. State pamphlets call it "The Land of Infinite Variety". They should read "In- f i n i t e Contradiction": farmers who cultivate their independence as jealously as they do crop supports; Republicans in the majority but Democrats in three of the state's four Congressional seats, not to mention the Governor's chair; plainsmen ·-.·ho look to Denver in the West, Minneapolis in the East but can't take a direct flight to Bismarck, their sister capital to the north, because the planes don't fly there and few South Dakotans want to. Yet they, as McGovern, are an ultrmatelypractical people, weathered by the realities of their state. Were the Indians friendly? Would the gold pan out? Will the grass grow? Wasn't there still more ore in the Black Hills than had been taken out, a man once asked an official of the Homestake Gold Mine, the biggest such in the Western hemisphere? "That's one theory." he replied. "The other is that there isn't." SUCH FATALISM is born of the turnstile of the state's history: Ankara Indians followed by Sioux (ask a Sioux what happened to the Arikaras they supplanted and he'll grunt a grunt Custer must have heard) followed by trappers followed by gold seekers followed by sod- busters followed by grasshoppers followed by cattlemen followed by sheepmen followed .by fences followed by gunfire followed by railroads followed by Scandinavians and Germans and Czechs followed by bankers followed by Populism followed by occasional showers but rarely enough. The land, itself, has a strong straightforward beauty: the prairies of West Dakota, old, wise, crannied and rounded as a buffalo's hump; the Black Hills where the pines camp along the ridges like dark green teepees. And always there is the sky: smokey w h i t e c u m u l u s clouds of summer spiralling upwards like soft ice cream from a spout; anvil-topped thunderheads turning the horizon battleship gray with jolts of lightning to herald the gift of rain to the thirsting carpets of grain; and the sunsets, tugged over the day like an Indian blanket, first orange, then vermillion, i i m / « v ( . a / c l l c - M a i l urrent ffairs Photos By Boh Scott Sept. 10,1972 'Land of Infinite Variety'--From Badlands (top) to Cattle Lands lavender, purple and finally darkness with stars pinholing the shroud of night. "It's quiet out here." said Ron Struwe, a public relations man in the capital at Pierre trying to explain why McGovern has become a household word in cities a world away. "You don't have all the noise and distractions. It's easier to hear what's going on in the country." That when one thinks of -South Dakota one sees Mt. Rushmore is a pity. The four great stone faces are as the Budapest String Quartet: They look like their pictures. Which tourists take by the millions as they speed breakneck across Interstate 90 on their way, to the rue of the motel and t h e T a k e - A - P i c t u r e - W i t h - A - R e a l Breathing-Sioux people, towards Yellowstone having made obligatory pit stops at the Corn Palace in Mitchell, Wall's Drug Store in Wall and the badlands grabbing up souvenir junk no Indian would trade even a prairie dog pelt for. Tourists, said one wag, are like the missiles that lurk beneath the prairie: "One shot and they're gone." has only 72,000 people. The next city west that's bigger is Spokane, Wash. SOUTH DAKOTA deserve; look. It is a state of small towns: Avon. McGovern's birthplace, population 610: Wallace. Hubert Humphrey's birthplace, population 95: Kadoka, Dupree. Trail City. Sioux Falls, the biggest town in the state, The small town with its inevitable wide Main Street, corner drug store and the brick bank across the street and posts a closer master who knows everyone by sight, has imparted its sense of community on the state. "You can't talk bad about anyone out here." said Don Howe, an official at Homestake. "You either know 'em or are related to "em." L. T. Anderson- When the Job Corps Center went into the old Governor Cabell Hotel in Huntington, there was a great deal of muttering among the townspeople. The Job Corps Center wasn't very popular, mostly because the students were black. When the Job Corps, pulled out of Hunt i n g t o n , h o w e v e r , there were agonized efforts to get it back and angry cries of p o l i t i c a l d i s - c r i m i n a t i o n . T h e businessmen of Huntington had found out in the meantime that black people spend money just like white people. In the course of the complaining, no one even mentioned the presumed function of the Job Corps, which is to train disadvantaged young people for roles in the capitalistic system and thereby increase their chances for the good life. What was mentioned incessantly was the amount of money the Center The Anderson Economic.Pro gram brought into Huntington. One could easily get the impression that businessmen would give their approval to a heroin packaging firm as long as it meant a payroll. It would be unfair to assume that only Huntington is guilty of this kind of lust for payrolls. It is a nationwide longing for commerce, industry, or. if necessary, Job Corps Centers and National Guard units. It just happens that Huntington presently is seething with controversy about the removal of i t s N a t i o n a l G u a r d a m b u l a n c e helicopters to Parkersburg. A Hearald-Dispatch columnist, John Raymond, said last Wednesday that Gov. Moore was "about 180 degrees from the truth" in explaining the removal of the National Guard aircraft. On another page, Cabell County ·Republicans and Democrats were at each other's throats over the community's loss. I LOOKED IN VAIN through the mass of type for the plea that the state would best be served by ambulance helicopters operating out of Huntington rather than Parkersburg. There may be various strategic or tactical reasons for the transfer, and one would think that if the move is based on the probability of saving more lives with Parkersburg helicopters the Huntington people would gladly surrender them. All I encountered was the o v e r w h e l m i n g impression that the National Guard helicopter unit was regarded as a pork barrel project which had brought a payroll to Huntington and which now will bring a payroll to Parkersburg. I can't argue with such a proposition, it being my contention that all National Guard units everywhere are pork barrel projects which for years provided sanctuary for draft-dodgers as a side benefit. I'm not at all certain that Job Corps Centers aren't also pork barrel projects, and I am convinced that a lot of military hardware is being produced in quantities greater than necessary because politicians lack the fortitude to reduce the defense budget, I am old enough to remember when munitions makers were thought of as the Bad Guys, not benevolent paycheck distributors. But that was in the days of Free E n t e r p r i s e , l o n g b e f o r e businessmen began begging the government for tax-supported commerce. Munitions makers now have a much improved image. They are the Good Guys who produce paychecks which support the community economy. Poor George McGovern is flying in the face of majority opinion when he seeks to reduce the defense budget. More specifically, he flew into the face of Missouri opinion when he proposed a reduction in the Fl5 airplane program. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch, although on McGovern's side, dutifully reported the barrage of criticism, all of it based on the assumption that Missouri's economy would be seriously damaged by large-scale layoffs at "McDonnell Douglas. I read all the criticism and nowhere found the argument that'the airplanes were necessary to the defense of the United States*. SIMILARLY, defense production is kept at high levels in California, Washington. Georgia/and everywhere planes, tanks and guns are manufactured. If England is a nation of shopkeepers. America has become a nation of munitions makers all working under government contract. As long as an artificial economy is thus maintained, I don't know why Keynesians in the White House and elsewhere consistently reject the Anderson Economic Program, which is simplicity itself: Continue to produce munitions, employing for this task graduates of Job Corps programs. Carry the finished products far out to sea and dump them, using National Guard planes for this purpose. Keep National Guard ambulance helicoptersatthe ready, in case of accidents, Raise taxes. Repeat the cycle. Politics, too, is person to person. When people talk about McGovern they talk first hand; "The last time I saw George, I said. "As I was telling George. 'George how in hell. The real South Dakota is off the main road: Prairie clogs perched at the lip of their tunnel surveying the world; buffalo, now a cash crop, snouting the grassland; schoolboys learning to wrestle a calf while their elders look on appraisingly from the top rail of a rickety rodeo ring; two Indian boys riding a calico pony bareback through the tall grass of the' Pine Ridge reservation, a scene right out of Charles M. Russell. Nearby, Elijah Holy Eagle waves a hand towards the horizon. "This land isn't the United States. It's not South Dakota. It's Sioux." This is the fascination of South Dakota: That much of its history still lives, the sweat and blood of its frontier heritage not yet dry. "Wagon wheels made this country." said a barroom poet in Hot Springs. And if the ruts are overgrown, you can still find bright-eyed survivors rocking slowly in the shade of their memories. They te'll of days when cattle roamed a fenceless sward measured not in mile.s but days in the saddle. "I'd go three, four months without sitting in a chair," said Archie Cosgrove, a onetime cowboy back when "fence" was a fighting word. Mrs. Joe "Maw" Burke grew up in a sod hut. survived five straight crop failures, learned to throw a curve, hunt, fish and can point out the log cabin she first lived in in the tiny mining hamlet of Silver City i pop. 25) where the jean-clad grand m o t h e r is p o s t m i s t r e s s g e n e r a l storekeeper and volunteer fireman. "I guess I'm kind of a Calamity Jane, only I don't play poker, said Mrs". Burke who is currently packing a small six- Please turn to Page 30 A

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