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Valley City North Dakota is a town of about 8,000 in the southeast corner of the state. The Sheyenne River twists through town so much it sometimes referred to by locals as the “City of Bridges.” It is the home of Valley City State College Vikings.

It’s about 687 miles from Chicagoland, a healthy drive. An even healthier ride on the Greyhound Bus; 17 and a half hours with stops in Milwaukee, Madison, Minneapolis, on down Interstate 94 into Alexandria, then over the Red River into Fargo.

The journey concludes about 55 miles farther down the road when the big bus rolls into the City of Bridges. A 6:30 AM start in the Windy City will get you there before midnight the same day if traffic co-operates.

My sophomore year of college, I made the travel football squad for Luther College, a DIII football team in Northeast Iowa. It was a pretty big deal to me at the time. It’s not that I was REALLY a star player or anything, but good enough to be the 2nd string receiver and a part of the 36-man road team.

I must have mentioned it in my weekly Sunday collect phone call to my parents from the pay phone in the Student Union. (Just that sentence will give you an idea of how long ago this was.)

Our first game of the year was an away game at, you guessed it, Valley City State College. While that trip took about 7 hours from campus to campus, it was kind of exciting to ride the team bus, have an overnight stay at a hotel and play football in a state I’d never even stepped foot in beforehand.

The likelihood of me seeing the field was dependent on how good the Vikings of Valley State were and how well we played. I wasn’t a starter and would only see action in the event of an injury or lopsided game. But heck, I was 18 years old and playing DIII college football in North Dakota.

As we jogged out of the locker room and I took my spot on the sidelines, I saw a woman and a young girl walking alongside the field towards the bleachers. They bore a strong resemblance to my mom and little sister, Donna.

I didn’t gawk at first, because, well, there was a game to play and the odds of that being them were so remote it seemed a mirage being as mom hadn’t been driving all that long and we only had one car.

But, sure enough, it WAS my mom.

She had taken a nearly 700-mile road trip of her own on a Greyhound Bus to see my very first college football road trip. She endured the rigors of that 18-hour bus trip with my sister in tow just so she could cheer me on and share the excitement of my first “away” college football game.

As luck would have it, we won by a large margin (31-0) and I actually got to play a few downs on the field so mom got to see me play football in North Dakota.

I got to share a precious few moments after the game with her and my sister, before she left for her bus and I left for mine.

I mostly stammered, saying things like “great to see you”,” hey, we won” and “how the hell did you get here”.

She just smiled that mom smile, gave me a hug and with a wry smirk, she said, “We took the bus.”

ESPN does a series this time of year called “Dear Mom” where star players extend their gratitude’s for their mother’s support.

This story won’t make that publication. Not because my mother didn’t support me. Oh she did. Time and time again and again. So I share it here.

My mom passed away four and a half years ago. There’s not a day goes by where I don’t think of her.

In tribute to my mom, on a Mother’s Day weekend, I share just this ONE tale of many of her never-ending dedication and devotion to her children. There are MANY more.

As Diana Ross sang and my mom exhibited, “Ain’t no valley low enough, ain’t no river wide enough to keep me from you…”

Love you mom for your constant support!

How many times has this happened to you?

You put 10 socks in the washer and when you empty the dryer, only 9 are there.
You scrape the washer, impeccably search the dryer and diligently follow your path from the laundry room to the bedroom and no missing sock.

Somewhere in the laundry process, the renegade sock escaped.

My wife has this basket of unmatched socks in our bedroom, hoping for that day when she finds a mate in another load. The day never comes. It’s a mystery we all encounter.

Have you ever thought of this? Perhaps, socks are monogamous or monogosox if you prefer.

When I buy my socks, it’s usually in a 3 pack or 6 pack or whatever and the socks are all neatly matched, usually bound together with a small seemingly annoying plastic piece, that to socks are perhaps a wedding rings of sorts.

And what do we do? We rip apart their band, step on them all day long and then throw them in a hamper when we are done. Leave them there for a few days or so with shirts and trousers and more socks and throw them in a vat of soapy water.

They soon learn that the odds of 12 socks ever being perfectly matched together again are 0.00757575. (Just trust me, my sister Susan is a math geek and got that stat for Wedwand in under a minute.)

As they splash about getting agitated, rinsed and spun you can almost hear them scream, “Bobby, where are you?”

“I’m here, Crew. I promise I’ll never be matched with another.”

It’s kinda like the Titanic for those socks when they get dropped in the washer. The agitator looms like an iceberg in the machine. As the water pours into the tub and the soap is added, they splash about with the suds getting higher.

By the time the fabric softener is added, you can almost hear Celine singing, “Near far, wherever you are…” as socks splash about frantically in the tub. There is no lifeboat coming to the rescue today.

Alas, one sock ultimately goes missing from the load in search of their mate. And THAT’s the sock we’re missing when it comes time to pair socks in the folding process.

Mystery solved.

Time for Wedwand’s 5th annual Thanksgiving Eve address to the nation.

I willingly profess Thanksgiving to be my favorite holiday. It has no pretense. It has no hype. And every year it reminds me to be thankful for what I have.

Thanksgiving is a holiday without a lot of glitter. Just turkey, trimmings, dinner traditions and just maybe a little giving of thanks along the way.

It’s a holiday that’s become accustomed to be trampled on by the greedy retailers of Christmas. But it is not without a few media sources out there that honor the day in their setting. Here’s three of them:

1) I recently “discovered” one of these traditions to be a folk song by Arlo Guthrie called Alice’s Restaurant actually formally titled “Alice’s Restaurant Massacree.”

Now there is no Alice’s Restaurant in the song as the song will tell you. In addition, the song is roughly 16 to 18 minutes long and it has nothing at all to do with Thanksgiving Day other than the fact that the story of the song takes place ON Thanksgiving Day.

And even though Arlo Guthrie has been singing this song since 1967 or so, and many people have listened to it as a Thanksgiving tradition, it wasn’t until just a couple years back that I actually took the full 16 to 18 minutes to listen to the tune which is more or less Arlo telling a quite captivating tale, at a time when folksingers told tales, that happened after a “Thanksgiving dinner that couldn’t be beat” while accompanying himself on the guitar. And by golly, it’s a Thanksgiving tradition of mine now too.

If you just want to be entertained by a guitar accompanied story for about 18 minutes and 15 seconds give it a listen: (People these days might call it a “Podcast”):

Or, if you just want the short version you can sing along, “You can get anything you want at Alice’s Restaurant. Walk right in it’s around the back just about a half a mile from the railroad tracks.”

2) Another media tradition is the 1992 movie “Scent of a Woman” starring Al Pacino and Chris O’Donnell. It’s set at Thanksgiving Break and includes an infamous dysfunctional Thanksgiving meal as well as a blind man who can Tango and if only for a couple blocks or two, drive a Ferrari and an incredibly inspiring back story.
Here’s the Tango:

The movie won Pacino an Oscar and was named the Best Motion Picture by the Golden Globes. A few quotable lines have become recurrent with my wife and me over the years.

“I’m in the dark here.”
“I saw something.”
“Oh, I’m just getting warmed up”
“And Harry, Jimmy, Trent, F_ _ _ you too.”

3) And of course, there’s the “Turkeys Away” episode from the 1970’s TV series, WRKP in Cincinnati. I found a 30 second mash up of the episode in case you don’t have the 25 minutes to watch the whole episode:

“As God as my witness, I thought Turkeys could fly.”

Below are the links to the four previous Wedwand Thanksgiving Eve entries. I thank you for your support over these five years.

Of course, we end with the John Mellancamp Pink Houses YouTube salute to America on this Thanksgiving Holiday!