Moose Lake Star Gazette - Serving Carlton and Pine Counties Since 1895

By Wick Fisher
Moose Lake Star-Gazette 

A well-known man called Bomb

Wick's World

 

March 30, 2017



The advent of Facebook allowed for renewal of friendships that had fallen away over the past 40 years. The post I received today was a reminder I now could celebrate my seven year anniversary as Facebook friends with Steve Stewart. Two weeks ago, I received a more somber post. “I have some sad news to report. Our great leader has fallen comrades. Steve Stewart died in his sleep this morning 3/12/17.”

Our great leader was a man known to all as “Bomb.” His comrades were college students and transients who just could not seem to leave the small college town of Vermillion, South Dakota. I called it home for 10 years during the blurred decade called the '60s and '70s.

Bomb was born and raised in the town we adopted as home. We adoptees were informally known as hippies. Bomb may have been our great leader, but a hippie he was not. Rather, he was well-known for his right wing views and seemed more than pleased with the current regime in Washington, D.C. But you heard no rants or raves from Bomb. He was politically astute with views that were fact-filled and offered scholarly opinion. Our last post together came a couple days before he died. It ended with a joke about California and taxes. Between us, our Facebook wiles and opinions were always filled with a touch of humor. I said this about Bomb as I do to several of my friends, “You’re my favorite Republican.”

Bomb’s last quote came from his obituary: “In lieu of flower, as Steve would request, please keep your hard earned money and invest it wisely. If you would like to irritate him in the afterlife, you can donate to South Dakota Public Broadcasting.”

There is a real irony in the fact the Great Leader of South Dakota’s hippy town was a right wing conservative. Yes, he was very opinionated and not afraid to let you know it. However, along with his big mouth came a big brain and an even bigger heart.

He wasn’t Vermillion’s Godfather. That role will forever go down in history to Bill Marc. He was dumped on the streets of Chicago during the riots at the Democratic Convention with the words “Get this guy out of here.” A carload of hippies drove him to their farm near Vermillion and more or less plied him with booze and smoke until he shook his heroin addiction.

The reciprocity of love that was shared between him and “Vermin Town” was one worthy of the title Godfather. Billy was our Al Capone, while Bomb was our Mayor Daley; our lifelong mayor. Up until his departure, Bomb, along with his right-hand man “Mad Dog,” was the face of Vermillion. He was quite the entrepreneur, having started several historic businesses. He took an old trailer, named it “The Bun Palace” and served the hottest chili north of Texas.

One of his friends quoted, “I remember that chili ... one inch of grease floating on the top ... the perfect end to a night of drinking.”

It is quite likely that his full nickname, “Stink Bomb,” originated in that well known chili parlor. He also founded “Grease City.” Who else in the world had the creativity to fashion a bar out of an old feed mill and still allow access through the window so trucks could simultaneously get weighed and buy a six-pack?

Grease City become home to The Zero Ted Band who had none other than Bomb as their manager. Whether he had anything to do with it or not, the band is still rockin’ today. Who amongst us “Friends of Grease City” remembers the night Todd Rundgren strolled in the bar and played a set? There were as many versions as to the color of Rundgren’s hair that night as in the spectrum of a rainbow.

The years have moved on and we all remember things differently; some hippies remember very little of that era. But we remaining comrades of our great leader Bomb will remember him as the guy at the end of the rainbow stirring his pot of gold.

 

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