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Food for body and soul … The simple life

The room lights up when Vivian Hansen shows up!

Philip, South Dakota, is a town where the siren blows at 10 p.m. to remind kids to get off the street and go home. The siren also starts coyotes howling at the town outskirts. But that’s just for kids. Adults and coyotes can howl all night if they want to.

People often say, “Why would anyone want to live in the Dakotas, it’s so dead.” I used to think it was to admire the pretty women, but have learned there is more.

I thought about this when looking through my address book to make some changes. Many names are those who have died and I just couldn’t bring myself to remove their names. To me, they still live and are an unforgettable part of my life.

I don’t need to explain this, the heart has reason that reason doesn’t know.

Is it really worth it to live the simple life? You better believe it!! This came to mind at dinners at the Senechal Hotel/apartment lobby weekdays. The food served seniors and guests may not have the playful texture or elegance of a ten-course meal at a Manhattan bistro, but is clean, wholesome, simple fare for about three bucks. It comes from the hospital kitchen in hot tubs, delivered by Prairie Transportation, and tastes great. Volunteer women who clean up and do the dishes afterwards do not wear fancy uniforms, but are lovely creatures none-the-less.

One never knows who you may see there, although they have many regulars. When Vivian Hansen shows up, the whole place lights up. She wears a big, red hat “because I’m 86,” she says. She has started a “Red Hat Club” and takes pictures of other women wearing the red hat, of course. She is a great lady and we can only guess how she may have looked 65 years ago.

Greg Weber is a regular. I admired his cap and he said, “It’s yours. I want you to have it.” I knew I was in Philip!

Greg was a banker for 53 years (43 in Philip). He was Executive Vice President at First National Bank in Philip when he retired in 1986. He and his wife, Dorothy, raised nine children: Julie and Craig live in Philip, Tim in Douglas, Wyo., Peggy in Yankton, Kathleen in Rapid City, Suzan in Box Elder, Anita in Scottsdale, Ariz., Jeffrey in Gillette, Wyo., and Jack in Sioux Falls. He is a member of Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Philip. He said, “I love Philip and wouldn’t live anywhere else. It’s a small town with such a great quality of life and I could always walk to work.”

Anyone who says they can’t find a place to eat in Philip doesn’t know where to look. The Steakhouse is known far and wide. It’s where cowboys and cowgirls can wash the dust from their throats and have a big steak and even dance the Texas Two-Step.

Heidi Drury works at the family pizza shop, Pizza Etc., and is a Philip High School graduate. That’s the place that prepared a pile of pizzas for a park full of eaters in a downtown park.

Heidi’s husband, Nicholas, is in Iraq. He is a member of a bomb squad and they diffuse live bombs. She cares for their two children, too. Her maiden name was Smith.

If this is the “Simple Life”, it sounds like the best to me.

The winds whisper to my soul calling me back again and again.