Peggy Sanders: Confluence Chronicles 7-9-12 |

Peggy Sanders: Confluence Chronicles 7-9-12

South Dakota only has 700,000 people in the whole state and with two “cities” – one at each end – those of us who live here are quite used to the small world stories that pop up from time to time.

The buzz phrase now is “degrees of separation,” which means how many people do you know personally between you and someone famous, such as the President of the United States. It may seem surprising but for most of us in South Dakota, we are only one degree from the president, simply because we know our US Senators, and Congresswoman on a first name basis. When they are in the area, we visit with them as friends do, without awe or intimidation. It’s just the way we – and they – are.

It used to amaze me when I talked to someone from somewhere else and we discovered we had a common acquaintance, but now it is more expected than not. During my husband’s Army service at Ft. Riley, Kan., he became acquainted with a fellow from North Carolina. As their discussions continued over six months’ time, the man began to wonder if everyone in South Dakota knows everyone else. He soon found out. As he was waiting for a flight in the Chicago airport, he struck up a conversation with a couple, learned they were from South Dakota, narrowed it to the Hot Springs area and then he asked if they knew my husband. “Yes,” they said, “we go to the same church.”

 It was at that point that he became convinced South Dakota is indeed an intimate state.

Years before that escapade my husband and I lived in Germany where he was a US Army officer. As you would imagine, the Army is a world unto itself, people move around yet friends and acquaintances resurface at other Army posts and friendships are rekindled.

While serving in an Army ROTC cadre, my husband was sent to Ft. Carson at Colorado Springs for two weeks. Another cadre officer told my husband, “When you get to Carson you should go look this guy up.”

After we compared notes on this man, we realized Mike had served in Germany with my husband, who then did go look him up at Ft. Carson and they recalled past times.  Some years later my sister who lives in Colorado Springs was at a large gathering where she knew no one else. As she began to get acquainted with C.J., the lady seated next to her, they discovered they had me in common; and C.J. was the wife of the aforementioned Mike.

Like thousands of others, I’ve been praying about the fires in Colorado Springs and elsewhere. My family down there lives well away from the danger yet I imagined many retired military are likely to live in the fire zone. Today I read in The Denver Post online that one of the houses burned in the Waldo Canyon fire belonged to our old friends, Mike and C.J. That brought the small world stories full circle.  

Peggy writes from the farm near the Black Hills.  Her internet latchstring is out at

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