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  Field Notes From
ZipUSA: Pickstown, SD

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Tom Brokaw

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Tom Brokaw

Vincent Musi

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Vincent J. Musi

In most cases these accounts are edited versions of a spoken interview. They have not been researched and may differ from the printed article.

Photographs by Vincent J. Musi

Tom Brokaw On Assignment On Assignment
ZipUSA: Pickstown, SD

Field Notes From Author
Tom Brokaw
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While in the post office I met a man who told me, “I have your picture at home!” I asked him how that was possible. “I’m the secretary of the American Legion Post, and you played American Legion baseball,” he said. “We keep very meticulous records.” So I went to his home, and there was a picture of me in my first real baseball uniform. He had all of these details about my life, including my thumbprint. In those days, they were so diligent about making sure we weren’t cheating—like the recent Little League scandal—that we were required to present a copy of our birth certificates and give a thumbprint. Our parents even had to affirm that our birth dates were correct. As I looked through this book from 1953, I saw all of my teenage pals from those days, including Chuck Gremmels, Marc Rhoades, and Jim Welch. It brought back a flood of memories that prompted me to get in touch with a number of my old friends. I hadn’t talked to some of them, I suppose, in 50 years.

The only bad part of this visit was that it reminded me of how old I am now and how young and innocent I was then. Living in that kind of an environment was a cocoon for me. I had this kind of Tom Sawyer boyhood swimming across the Missouri River, collecting arrowheads in the nearby hills, getting my first rifle when I was 10 or 11, and going fishing with my pals. I’ve learned since then that the world is not just about childhood innocence.

I went to the nearby town of Lake Andes to the old swimming pool where I spent so many hours of my life. It was very strange to see myself as a kid running along the side of the pool. Back then, you couldn’t see six inches (15 centimeters) in front of your eyes. And by the end of the summer your bathing suit had completely faded in color. They’ve since managed to get a water filtration system, and the water is clear. The pool was built in 1936, and it’s still serving the community.

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