By Lura Roti

Our daughter, Parker, is participating in her first school play – Edison Middle School is putting on a musical, Cinderella. And it got me thinking, what if life were a musical? I wondered, what my soundtrack would consist of if events, whether they are mundane or extraordinary inspired songs?

Whatta mess, whatta mighty good mess

The other day I was air-pressing my morning coffee and suddenly coffee spurted everywhere. My clothes, the counter, the floor – coffee and fresh grounds everywhere. It was a Saturday morning, all I wanted was my cup of fresh coffee with some foamed cream on top…and here I was with a roll of paper towels wiping down my kitchen. As I worked, Salt-N-Pepa’s song, “Whatta Man” began filling my head … but in the spirit of a true musical, the lyrics applied to the situation. WHAT A MESS!

You are my sunshine, my only sunshine…Please don’t take my sunshine away

This lullaby comes to mind every time I see the sun!

It has been a winter.

Our family escaped for a few sun-filled days to Florida in February and oh was it nice to worry about sunscreen – not bundling up! But because anyone reading this is probably sick of winter and hearing about winter. Instead of focusing any more energy on cold, ice and snow, let me share two reasons I like South Dakota winter more than Florida winter:

  1. Certain bugs can’t survive the cold. As we were leaving the theme park garage, my husband, Shon, turned on the air in our rental car. Suddenly he slammed on the break and yelled. Our daughter, Parker, and I looked just in time to see the butt-end of a very large cockroach scurry into the dashboard air vent. Shon had seen the insect come out one vent and scurry into the other. He said it was the size of a mouse. Because our luggage shared a vehicle with a cockroach, we left it outside overnight when we returned home. Google told me cockroaches cannot live in below zero temperatures.
  2. Many years ago, I interviewed one of my favorite college professors and in the course of our conversation, I asked him what kept him at South Dakota State University. I knew there had been other offers over the years. Among the many reasons, he mentioned, “I like living in a state where you never sit at a traffic signal more than one rotation.”

In Florida, it sometimes took us 45 minutes to go 3 miles. And the road rage? Kind of over the top.

They paved paradise and put up a parking lot.

I didn’t know the name of the song connected to these lyrics until I sat down to write this column and needed to know. Its title is “Big Yellow Taxi.”

The first few lines of this song often come to mind when I drive Downtown Sioux Falls and pass nearly empty parking lots beside towering 1970s/80s-era financial institutions.

They paved paradise and put up a parking lot

With a pink hotel, a boutique, and a swinging hot spot

Don’t it always seem to go

That you don’t know what you got ’til it’s gone?

They paved paradise and put up a parking lot

Blocks of beautiful, historic brick and quartzite buildings were clear-cut to make room for parking lots and banks. Citizen advocates are the only reason the Washington Pavilion and Old Courthouse still stand.

Our neighborhood experienced similar losses.

At one time our neighborhood was zoned for multi-family housing. So, instead of fixing up historic houses, like the one that once was home to Look’s Meat family, developers tore them down to build apartment complexes. For example, the historic home above was torn down and replaced by this apartment building.

203 North Summit

Drive through the Cathedral Historic District and you will begin to notice at least one if not two apartment buildings on nearly every block.

Then, because of neighbor advocates, the neighborhood was rezoned single family. Today, many historic homes have been restored or are currently undergoing major restoration.

Can you tell I’m a bit passionate about this? Fortunately, I’m not alone! I live in a neighborhood filled with preservation advocates. And the City of Sioux Falls has a Board of Preservation made up of citizen volunteers who work diligently to ensure historic homes and commercial properties within our historic districts are protected.

As I write this paragraph about being surrounded by a community of individuals who care, the lyrics to Bob Marley’s Everything’s Gonna Be Alright stream through my mind. What a good reminder.