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Posted 3/10/15 (Tue)


First I have to apologize for not having a column in most papers last week. I tried, I really did. You see, I was sitting in the shade of a palm tree outside a small motel in the Florida Keys. Marathon Key to be exact - at the Ranch House Motel. Now, the motel is a small, older motel about a block off the ocean. It has nice clean rooms, reasonable rates, but, alas, no office center.
So I was sitting in a lawn chair, writing an article on Shirley’s iPad. An iPad is a device that is not made for communicating. Especially if you have fat, heavy fingers. It turned out to be one of the greatest articles ever written. Until I went to delete a word at the end and hit “cancel” instead of delete. Damn! I hate it when I do that! After an hour of pecking at that thing with one finger.
We drove to Miami and checked into a much bigger motel. With a computer in the lobby! There were 20 people in line to use the computer. I went down by the pool and pecked at that iPad with one finger. Just as I was about to end the second greatest story ever told, it locked up! Do you know how far a man can throw an iPad when he is really frustrated? I think I now know why Hemingway committed suicide. He had an iPad to write novels on. But enough about that.
On the Sunday morning news there was a story about a new off-Broadway musical. Now, an off-Broadway play takes place, you guessed it, off Broadway. Shirley and I attended an off-Broadway production yesterday. It was about as far off of Broadway as one can get. It was the community play that is produced annually in Harding County, S.D., at the Bullock Hall.
Now, I’m not sure if you can google the Bullock Hall and get directions or not. We attend the plays most years so I know the road. For us, you go west of Bowman to Rhame, turn south and continue past Table Mountain in South Dakota, turn west and just keep heading for the cement crossing on the Little Missouri. Before you get to the river, you will come to the Bullock Hall. On the drive you will see more sheep than cattle, more cattle than people, a few rabbits, a few antelope, a little gumbo, and a lot of ranch country. You will wonder to yourself, “Who lives out here? What do they do?”
But as you drive into the packed parking lot, it becomes clear. What do they do? They take care of themselves and they take care of each other. They put on one of the most remarkable off-Broadway plays in the country. Complete with an orchestra playing songs of the times. The actors and orchestra don’t get paid. Except by the smiles they bring to their friends and neighbors. The actors in this year’s play consisted of ranchers and wives. Students, wrestlers, and volleyball players. There was an insurance saleswoman, construction workers, truckers, bank tellers, and a girl from South Africa. I don’t know how many hours they practice, but practice they do.
And for four nights, they sell out the Bullock Hall. That’s over 600 people that find their way without Google Maps or a GPS!
This production has been going on for several decades, and judging from the enthusiastic crowds, I’ll bet that as sure as the wind blows in Harding County, it will continue!

Thanks Harding County!