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The mayor of the manor always comes home after his road trips Richard Peña | Sat, Jul 05 2014 12:00 PM

Back in our automobile traveling days we had an objective and that was to visit and photograph each of the states, preferably at the state capital.

We fell short by a few states, being rather reluctant to go too far north. One of the states we missed was South Dakota, a state that is rich in history and one, I am told, should have been a must.

We bring up South Dakota because the other day we learned that one of the residents of Sweetwater Manor, Don

Hinkle, had just returned from a journey there, a trip that, as usual for Hinkle, was fraught with adventure.

Going to South Dakota is nothing new for Hinkle. He has been there a number of times.

In fact, a little over 89 years ago he was born there. People around here, however, know him as a long time member of the South Bay community, the last several years living in the Manor.

He is often referred to as the Mayor of Sweetwater Manor, a title that is more honorary than anything else, but, nevertheless, a title that lends some semblance of dignity to the individual.

As we have remarked earlier about other individuals, Hinkle and his wife LaRayne are those local residents who, in spite of calling Bonita home, have never lost touch with the place of their birth. Hinkle still has a myriad of relatives in the old homestead and a visit every now and then seems to be the norm.

Some months ago Hinkle approached me and told me that he and his wife were going to drive to South Dakota. He had bought a used fifth-wheeler and was going to tow it with his Dodge Ram all the way there and back.

When I looked at him querulously, he told me that one of his grandsons, of which there are quite a few, was going to do the driving.

Even so that would have been quite an undertaking, even for someone who loves the perils of an adventure. Riding a few thousand miles in a truck is really not anyone’s idea of comfort, regardless of how old, or young  the bones and back may be.

So Hinkle went to South Dakota the easy way: he flew. To be on the safe side he took along son, Jauhn, a Sweetwater teacher who is out for the summer. Hinkle told me that Jauhn was along just to see that he got on the right plane and was at the right gate at the right time and observed some of those other rigors of travel.

They landed at the state capital, Pierre.  It seems like everyone who goes to South Dakota has to land at Pierre.  By the way, that city’s name is pronounced “Peer” by those of us who are in the know. 

The travelers had a few objectives. One was to help Don’s brother Emory celebrate his 104th birthday.  For all his years Emory is reported to be hale and hearty.

Another objective was to visit some of those things of his youth, the house in Brookings where he was brought up and the haunts in both Pierre and Fort Pierre where he squired his future bride. The two towns are in different time zones so one would have to go from one to the other to squeeze in one more hour of dancing before the curfew.

As part of their adventure the Hinkles visited a local plant that turns corn into fuel for automobiles. And here all this time we thought that one could only make bourbon from corn.

Another adventure and what for me would have been the highlight, was to not only see a herd of buffalo but to see them in stampede. They were the guests of the owners of the Triple U Buffalo Ranch, an immense spread that is home to thousands of buffalo. Movie scenes that feature buffaloes are often filmed there.  Buffalo meat, especially buffalo burger, is I am told, a tasty morsel that is becoming  popular with the adventuresome segments of society.

Hinkle, who, by the way, is a former Marine, has many stories to tell of both his boyhood and later visits to the place of his birth more so than we could relate in this space.

He always, however, returns home to Bonita.

We can’t let the mayor of Sweetwater Manor be absent for too long.

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