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

By Wick Fisher
Moose Lake Star-Gazette 

Waiting for Go

Wick's World

 

February 7, 2019



I never could wrap my head around the reason Samuel Beckett named one of his characters Godot. Can’t you picture Mrs. Godot yelling at her husband, “Godot, get this” and “Godot, get that.” She most likely shortened it to a much simpler “Go get this” and “Go get that” and husbands have been fetching for their wives ever since.

Samuel Beckett’s “Waiting for Godot” was a boring drag until one of the characters (I forget who) yelled out, “Let us do something, while we have the chance!” That became my personal mantra after I read “Waiting for Godot” as a freshman in Chamberlain High School.

We even read heavier stuff and became cultured on that South Dakota prairie. I’d be hard pressed to find a better place waiting to grow up than in a small town in South Dakota. Many of my friends are still out there…waiting…not for Godot, but living for the sun to rise tomorrow. If you want to find a place "Stuck in the '50s" (and in a good way), move to South Dakota. Once a billboard appeared along I-90 with a welcoming sign that said as much.

For me, growing up came late in life. Three years of college and then a stint in the U.S. Army helped. I could say I became a man the first time I jumped out of an airplane but that wouldn’t be true. That was more like a kid acting out a dare. The dare came from one of my old Chamberlain buddies named Wayno Johnson. He was a paratrooper who spent two tours of duty in Vietnam. After returning from the service, he came back to Chamberlain only to find me back home during one of my several college dropout periods doing nothing. I was simply “Waiting to Go.”

Everybody around me said that losing my college deferment meant I would surely be drafted (I was) and heading for Vietnam. So Wayno and I drove around Chamberlain every day drinking beer and doing nothing except “Waiting to Go.” Then we actually did go somewhere. We began by going to Pukwana. Then we drove around White Lake, Plankinton, Stickney, Gettysburg, and Highmore. That was when Wayno and I invented the drive by.

Finally, the day came when I got drafted. I wasn’t only going to the service, I was going out into the unknown waiting to become a man. I could easily say that the Army made a man out of me; but I won’t. I felt that I still had a few years of immaturity under my belt.

I got discharged one February and returned to Chamberlain, all the while singing, “Get Your Mind off Wintertime, ‘Cause You Ain’t Goin’ Nowhere.” But soon I did go. I went to the largest city in America, the Big Apple. I figured New York City would surely make a man out of me. I figured wrong. Life there was just another party, albeit on a much larger scale.

I returned to college life which again made me a party animal rather than a man. One day I looked at the university bulletin board and saw a poster that read, “Round Trip NYC to London only $199.” I bought my ticket and I felt the world was mine.

I got on the Orient Express and road it all the way to Istanbul. But it was on another train when the moment arrived that I knew I had become a man. After returning from the adventurous Mideast, I bought my way behind the Iron Curtain. Buying a way into the U.S.S.R. was easiest at the border of Austria. Czechoslovakians were waiting on the other side, one hand out for U.S. dollars, the other hand on the trigger of a gun.

The train we took got delayed when they mistook me and my friends for gold smugglers. Then I made the mistake of pointing my camera at a border guard. It clicked at the exact moment he turned to see me. Now he thought I was a spy.

He pointed at my camera, then he pointed his gun at my temple. I felt no fear, for he knew as well as I did that killing an unarmed American would not sit well with the world. I handed him my camera and he put down his gun. He took out the film and stomped on it.

My biggest take from this was that I showed no fear. At that moment, I knew that somewhere between the dusty roads of South Dakota and the ugly grey of communism, I had become a man.

 

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