Announcer: Ladies and gentlemen, the story you are about to see is true. The names have been changed to protect the innocent.
Or the guilty. It’s all a matter of perspective here today in Boyd County, Nebraska.
Boyd County was formed in 1891 and named after Nebraska Governor James E Boyd. The 2013 census determined the county has a population of 2,032. The county seat is Butte, a town I know absolutely nothing about. There are several towns and villages in Boyd County, but I only know of one.
One of my college roommates, Hal, was from Lynch, Nebraska. As you can see on the map, Boyd County is up in the northeastern corner of Nebraska, and part of its border is the Missouri River. One summer weekend Hal invited a number of us college buddies to come up to his hometown and go water skiing on the Missouri River. It sounded like a good time, so we took the bait. I drove, along with another friend, Taylor, from Lincoln to Lynch. It wasn’t a horribly long trip - around four hours - but it always seems long when you’re driving somewhere knowing that you’re going to have fun when you get there.
Most of the road trip was uneventful except for a few moments when I noticed Taylor dozing off, and because he wasn’t paying attention, it was a damned good time to scare the hell out of him. I drove the car into the ditch slightly, then turned, so the rear end slid and took out one of those reflector posts with a loud bang. I screamed as I did it, and of course, Taylor awoke believing that he was about to die in a horrible accident. I just laughed like a madman and drove back onto the highway, continuing our journey as if nothing had happened.
After we arrived Friday night, we went to a party in the woods. Or the country. The wilderness? Wherever it was, it was the middle of nowhere to me, as I had no idea where we were anyway. They had a giant bonfire going, but instead of burning wood, they burned tires. I don’t know if you’ve ever been around a tire fire, but it puts off terrible black smoke. (It seems to me that they had done something to the tires, so it wasn’t so smokey, but my memory is corrupt on this - perhaps someone from Lynch or Boyd County could let us know in the comments).
At one point in the evening, a guy tried to run me over with his pickup. Instead of running me over I just kind of hung onto the hood as he drugged me along. He didn’t hit me hard, it wasn’t as if he was doing 30 or 40 miles an hour, but probably would have killed me had I not clung to his hood while he continued to try running me over.
The next morning we got up hungover as hell, and Hal was anxious to get his boat started and get on the Missouri river. Once we got out there, he pointed out how cold the water was, especially in the morning. I was feeling particularly groggy, so while wearing a life jacket, I merely laid over backward out of the boat and into the river. I didn’t tell anyone before I did this, so it took them a few moments to discover I was gone. By the time the boat got back to me, and they picked me up out of the water my legs were numb from the cold. I was, however, awake. I commented on the fact that Hal was not lying about how cold the water was.
We spent the day skiing. I’d never been able to get up on one ski because I don’t have a great deal of balance. I’ve never had a problem with two, however. Skiing on the Missouri was a blast, with the exception that if you happened to lose a ski while you were waiting to start, the river current would take it away and the guys in the boat would yell at you for being a moron as they had to chase it down for you before you could start skiing again.
The highlight of the day was tubing, and since we were young and stupid, it was, of course, wipe out tubing.
Hal would drive the boat in a figure eight up and down the river at a faster pace until we couldn’t hang on.
I’m not sure if you’ve ever been tubing like this, but it works like this. As you’re riding in the tube and the figure eight begins, the centrifugal force sooner or later becomes so great that you simply don’t have the strength to hang on to the tube anymore. The longer and harder you hang on, the more power with which you fly when you let go. There were times at which you would hit the water with enough force that it hurt. I learned very quickly to time my letting go so that I could roll into my shoulder and let the life vest take the most impact from hitting the water. There is a wonder and beauty in doing this kind of stuff when you’re young. If I did this now, I would be in pain for days, so my recommendation for you is to get out there and beat the shit out of yourself physically once in a while because it is incredible fun and you won’t be doing it later when you’re old. It’s one of the many reasons why the old resent and hate the next generation - the other reasons involving toast, avocados, clouds, and that hip-hop hogwash.
I was later chosen as best wipeout guy. My other roommate, Bill, was skip champ. When he let go, he skipped across the water more times and further than anyone. It was incredibly fun to watch him wipe out as he had a wide squatty body, and a few times he cartwheeled when he wiped out, consuming a great deal of distance before he finally sank into the water.
Bill was a pilot. At that time he piloted small Cessna aircraft. He had flown to Lynch. When it was time to return home, Taylor did not want to ride with me (no idea why), so he decided to fly with Bill. Bill could play nasty jokes on you when he was flying. In this case, he told Taylor that he was going to take a short nap and crawled into the back seat of the Cessna. He told Taylor to simply keep the plane straight and level, and they would be fine.
Bill only pretended to sleep. While Taylor wasn’t looking, Bill would reach up and change the nose trim on the plane. The nose trim adjusts the angle of the propeller. If you turn it down, the plane is going to go down no matter what you do with the yoke. It’s not going to fall out of the sky or anything so drastic, but it’s not going to stay level no matter what you do.
After a while, Taylor is struggling to keep the plane level. At one point, he finally starts screaming, “We’re going down, man, we’re going down” and starts screaming at Bill to get back in the front seat and fly the plane. Bill told me about this when he got home. I laughed like hell. I had been the brunt of Bill’s jokes in an airplane before. I knew enough about airplanes that I knew what Bill was doing most of the time, but I’m sure he pretty sure he would’ve got me on that one.
I believe Taylor’s family lost their farm in the 80s farm crisis shortly after that. He didn’t return to school at Lincoln in the fall. I never saw him again.
That’s my experience with Boyd County Nebraska.
The image above is a historical landmark. It is referred to as “The Tower” or “Old Baldy”. Here’s what is said about it:
The prairie dog, or “prairie rat”, as they were referred to around my area when I was young, was used primarily for target practice when I was a kid. They were harder to shoot than you’d think, and once they were warned about you, they were all down in their holes for quite a while. It’s my understanding they’ve been hunted and cleared from land to the point that some worry about their extinction.
- The current #63 is Tanner Farmer, an offensive linemen in who I have a great deal of hope for this coming season.
- In 1963, only 5,500 Husker fans attended the spring game. 5,500!!!!!!!! That’s more than most schools get today!
- Frank Solich played from 1963-1965
- The 1963 team went 10-1 in Bob Devaney’s second year, losing only to Air Force 17-13 at Memorial Stadium in Lincoln. They beat Oklahoma 29-20, and then beat #5 Auburn in the Orange Bowl to finish #5 in the Coaches Poll and #6 in the AP.
- That’s All I Got on #63