Tag Archives: plainview MN

Reprise: “Bust A Move”…

(Note:  I’ve been searching for some of my favorite blog posts fro the last year and reprising them if it makes sense.  Since many (most?) of my readers experienced some old-fashioned cold and snow this week, this post from October 4, 2016, seems appropriate.  Happy Christmas! JT)

car-big-drift

 

Spending time writing about winter outdoor activities got me thinking about the real-world adventures my indestructible running buddies and I attempted/found ourselves in the middle of/were stupid enough to try back in the day. Some of these events have never been described or recounted outside our tight little group, but I’m pretty sure the statute of limitations has run out on all of them. Or at least most of them. I think.

The sport was simply named, “Drift-Busting”. Participants in town needed to be 16 and a licensed driver, although many farm kids started building their skills much younger. All you needed was a big US-built four door family sedan from the late 60’s through late 70’s. The early 70’s Chevy Impala and Ford LTD were ideal, although exotica like the “roomy” Plymouth Fury III, Buick LeSabre, Ford Country Sedan station wagon or Ford Ranchero or Chevy El Camino with extra weight over the rear axle added variety.

The ideal crew for Drift Busting included: 1) The Driver; 2) The Navigator, front seat passenger window who was the lookout for other cars and plows, snow-covered obstacles and law enforcement, and 3) An attractive and animated young lady front-seat middle to supply appropriate shrieks, support and laughter such as you might hear on a roller coaster or in a Steve McQueen movie. You went with just Driver/Navigator if circumstances dictated, but the “three wide” configuration was definitely preferred.el-caminobronco-under-tree

There were three disciplines in Sedan-class Drift Busting. The first was “Classic Drift Busting”, where during or after a big snow ( 6-7inches and up, but more snow and wind is better). you busted unplowed drifts right where God dropped ‘em. “Classic” tested your behind-the-wheel skill to keep from getting stuck or high-centered, and your ability to negotiate a mid-storm corner. The second was “Post-Plow Busting” where you could pick up speed on plowed streets before busting through man-made piles. The heart beat a little faster with this one. The third discipline was “Free-style”, with the car on an unplowed parking lot or playground that was paved and flat, had lots of snow, and fewer things to hit. Free-style tested your artistry with rear-wheel drive V-8 skids, drifting and a set of various consecutive circle-spins and overheated engines referred to collectively as “shitties”.

There were many good Drift-Busters, too many to mention, but as a Navigator my favorite pilot, hands-down, was Thomas P. Harlan. Today Tom is a high-powered lawyer in the Twin Cities, but back then he was a wild-eyed pilot of a classic Dark Olive 1970-ish Chevrolet Impala v-8 equipped four-door sedan. The car was sparsely optioned, but did have a solid AM radio allowing for a long-distance “Boogie Check” with John “Records” Landecker on 89-WLS Chicago. The secret weapon of that car is that it came pre-dented, so when Tom took it home with some fresh dimples no one was the wiser. If you measured pilots solely on driving skill, Tom was well above average but not a savant. His gifts were a total lack of fear, the willingness to thread even the smallest needle, and a happy-go-lucky cackle even in the face of certain disaster. Call it the “Luck of the Irish” if you like.

The demise of the rear-wheeled sedan, improved plowing techniques, fewer monster snow storms and a general distaste for such reckless activities make today’s Drift-Busting the winter equivalent of cock fighting, run by seedy gamblers swilling cheap peppermint schnapps and betting on strung-out adrenaline junkies piloting rusted-out Plymouth K-Cars. But I’ll remember when young princes like Tommy slung around that Detroit iron with a comely lass like Lou Ann Erickson or Susan Arnoldy in the middle, all of us singing “Sultans of Swing” at the top of our lungs, just for the fun of it all.

 

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Bust A Move

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This month I was fortunate to receive the second freelance writing assignment of my long media career. Its for Dakotafire Magazine, a spirited and driven bi-monthly magazine dedicated to the revitalization of rural living in The Dakotas. I’m writing a story in the November-December edition, which explores how and why we live outdoors in the winter months, and how rural South Dakota communities might parlay winter outdoor resources into economic gain. My first freelance writing gig, by the way, was when I was 17, working for the Plainview News, writing game stories for the 1978 Plainview (MN) High School Gophers football squad as it battled week to week in the long-defunct but lovingly-remembered Hiawatha Valley League. The team lost more than it won, but the coverage was riveting. Or so I was told.

el-camino

Spending time writing about winter outdoor activities got me thinking about the real-world adventures my indestructible running buddies and I attempted/found ourselves in the middle of/were stupid enough to try back in the day. Some of these events have never been described or recounted outside our tight little group, but I’m pretty sure the statute of limitations has run out on all of them. Or at least most of them. I think.

The sport was simply named, “Drift-Busting”. Participants in town needed to be 16 and a licensed driver, although many farm kids started building their skills much younger. All you needed was a big US-built four door family sedan from the late 60’s through late 70’s. The early 70’s Chevy Impala and Ford LTD were ideal, although exotica like the “roomy” Plymouth Fury III, Buick LeSabre, Ford Country Sedan station wagon or Ford Ranchero or Chevy El Camino with extra weight over the rear axle added variety.

 

The ideal crew for Drift Busting included: 1) The Driver; 2) The Navigator, front seat passenger window who was the lookout for other cars and plows, snow-covered obstacles and law enforcement, and 3) An attractive and animated young lady front-seat middle to supply appropriate shrieks, support and laughter such as you might hear on a roller coaster or in a Steve McQueen movie. You went with just Driver/Navigator if circumstances dictated, but the “three wide” configuration was definitely preferred.

bronco-under-tree             car-big-drift

There were three disciplines in Sedan-class Drift Busting. The first was “Classic Drift Busting”, where during or after a big snow ( 6-7inches and up, but more snow and wind is better). you busted unplowed drifts right where God dropped ‘em. “Classic” tested your behind-the-wheel skill to keep from getting stuck or high-centered, and your ability to negotiate a mid-storm corner. The second was “Post-Plow Busting” where you could pick up speed on plowed streets before busting through man-made piles. The heart beat a little faster with this one. The third discipline was “Free-style”, with the car on an unplowed parking lot or playground that was paved and flat, had lots of snow, and fewer things to hit. Free-style tested your artistry with rear-wheel drive V-8 skids, drifting and a set of various consecutive circle-spins and overheated engines referred to collectively as “shitties”.

There were many good Drift-Busters, too many to mention, but as a Navigator my favorite pilot, hands-down, was Thomas P. Harlan. Today Tom is a high-powered lawyer in the Twin Cities, but back then he was a wild-eyed pilot of a classic Dark Olive 1970-ish Chevrolet Impala v-8 equipped four-door sedan. The car was sparsely optioned, but did have a solid AM radio allowing for a long-distance “Boogie Check” with John “Records” Landecker on 89-WLS Chicago. The secret weapon of that car is that it came pre-dented, so when Tom took it home with some fresh dimples no one was the wiser. If you measured pilots solely on driving skill, Tom was well above average but not a savant. His gifts were a total lack of fear, the willingness to thread even the smallest needle, and a happy-go-lucky cackle even in the face of certain disaster.  Call it the “Luck of the Irish” if you like.

The demise of the rear-wheeled sedan, improved plowing techniques, fewer monster snow storms and a general distaste for such reckless activities make today’s Drift-Busting the winter equivalent of cock fighting, run by seedy gamblers swilling cheap peppermint schnapps and betting on strung-out adrenaline junkies piloting rusted-out Plymouth K-Cars. But I’ll remember when young princes like Tommy slung around that Detroit iron with a comely lass like Lou Ann Erickson or Susan Arnoldy in the middle, all of us singing “Sultans of Swing” at the top of our lungs, just for the fun of it all.

There’s Snow Business Like Snow Business

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Sioux Falls K-12 closing schools the day before a weather event is as rare as a coherent “Victory Speech” following an Iowa caucus.  Days like today bring back specific memories of Snow Days gone by.  I can say with concrete certainly that during my K-12 days I was the very first kid in the entire district to know school was cancelled that day.  My Dad was the Superintendent of Schools at Plainview, MN for 20 years. On days like today, my Dad was up very early (4am?) and on the kitchen phone calling his bus drivers for driving conditions in the country.  After deciding to close he’d start making calls to the area radio stations, giving each their special “code word” (so renegade students wouldn’t call in false reports) and details on closing.  The kitchen phone was one of two in the house.  It also happened to be right next to my bedroom. I didn’t even have to get out of my nice, warm bed.  This was long before TV scrolls, or texts, or web pages or weather radar.  I wouldn’t have needed them anyway. My info came straight from the top.

Our house in Plainview was on a corner.  That meant we only had one next door neighbor, the Sparks family.  Lowell “Red” Sparks just happened to be the John Deere dealer in town.  When the blizzard snow and winds were at their worst, Red would find his way down to Sparks Implement and return at the wheel of a state-of-the-art JD with a loader on the front.  Before long the streets of the entire neighborhood were cleared. Since he used a loader there were BIG piles of snow strategically placed like mountain ranges on both our western and northern borders.  Snow forts, caves and tunnels of epic scale were quickly built and manned, guaranteeing the neighborhood’s safety from attack.

Randy Breuer

 

Randy Breuer, Noted big person

My last memory today was from my junior year in high school.  It was March and the Minnesota State Boys Basketball tournaments were underway at the long departed St. Paul Civic Center.  Lake City, the perennial powerhouse from our conference and district led by 7’2” Randy Breuer, was playing.  Breuer was the first round pick (18th overall) of the Milwaukee Buck.  He played 10 NBA seasons.  I had to play against him for 6 years.  Guess who won?  Anyway we knew many of the Lake City players and they were our rooting interest.  Normally the first round games would happen when we were at school, but we had a blizzard and went home early.  Two of my friends (Brent Wohlers and Dave Arnett) worked after school at Kings Grocery downtown. Without incriminating anyone, the boys had “liberal access” to all the Mountain Dew, chips and whole cooked chickens they could carry. Doug Marcotte’s parents were working, so we holed up at his house watching basketball and gorging the way only 16-17 year old boys can do. Lake City won that game and the entire tournament.  That afternoon might not sound like much, but it was grand…grand enough to remember 38 years later.

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What’s your favorite Snow Day memory?  Consider sharing it here, and consider sharing this post with your friends.  You can also guarantee perfect attendance by having these posts automatically delivered by clicking on “follow” below.  Happy snow removal!