I saw one of the 'Transformers' movies on TV the other night. Which one? I don't know. It's the one where this guy and this girl run and run and run. Then, these big robots stomp around, crushing buildings, making a ton of noise, and somehow in the end the world is saved.

What's that? That's what all the 'Transformers' movies are about? Oh...well, it was one of 'em.

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Anyway, a lot of the younger people think Transformers are relatively new, something that first came out somewhere in the 80s and now is the biggest thing ever because of the movies. You can buy a little toy for too much money, go home, and change the Volkswagen into a robot that...well, I guess does something. Pretty cool, I suppose.

But what a lot of younger people don't know is, we had Transformers waaay back in the old days. Yep, we sure did.

Heck, I can remember being a little nipper (and so darn cute) back on the farm by little Leota, Minnesota. I'd be outside and pick up a stick. No, nothing special, just a stick that somehow had come off that big tree over there, lying in the dirt.

But suddenly it transformed! Quick as a whip, it turned into a rifle (probably a Winchester) and I was chasing the bad guys, firing away, around the garage, the barn. When I had vanquished them, voila! The stick transformed into a spear and I was in the Olympic Javelin contest (and I won, too, I'm pretty sure). Then, snap, it became a wand, and Holy Smoke, I was Harry Potter before Harry Potter was even a twinkle in J.K. Rowling's eye!

We had a pasture just to the east of the farmyard, down there past the Grainery. The cows and calves would graze down there. But in the summer, with the help of an old manual lawnmower, it suddenly transformed...bingo!, Metropolitan Stadium, home of your favorite Minnesota Twins! The stadium was jam-packed, the bases were whatever you could find for them (cow pies were fine, if they were dried...the fresh ones, well, not so much). Then the greatest transformation of all! In the blink of an eye, I transformed into Harmon Killebrew and it was World Series Game 7, staring down the great Sandy Koufax. Yep, eyeball-to-eyeball with 'ol Sandy right there in that pasture...oops, I mean Met Stadium. If I recall correctly (and memories bend warm), I'm pretty sure I took him long and won the game.

Oh, there were other transformers, too. In our old grove were 4 trees that became corners for a fort, a castle, a mansion. The hay-mow of the barn (before it burned down, drat it!) was Boston Garden and I was John Havlicek, right there in the middle of the bales of hay.

So you see, we had transformers in my day, back all those years ago. We had tons of transformers, they were almost everywhere you looked.

Isn't imagination a great thing? You can have anything you want. It doesn't have to be built into a toy. It doesn't have to be in the software of a video game.

Just imagine if we still had that imagination today.

Randy's Minnesota Memories

Randy McDaniel grew up on a small farm near Leota, Minnesota during the classic baby-boomer years of the 1960s and 1970s. These are his stories of growing up in the idyllic world of southwest Minnesota.

Here Are The 7 Remaining Drive-In Theaters In South Dakota

If you were born last century...you know, in the nineteen hundreds (ugh)...you may have spent a summer evening in the car watching movies. I don't mean on your phone, I mean at the drive-in movie theater!

If you were in Sioux Falls in the 1970s and '80's you may remember seeing Jaws and Indiana Jones at The East Park or the Starlite Drive-In. Both drive-ins opened just after World War 2. The East Park didn't make it out of the '70s, closing in 1978. The Starlite survived long enough to see the birth of home video, closing in 1985.


Drive-in movies had a bit of a resurgence during the pandemic. They were a way to go out and do something social without getting out of your car.

If you tried one during that time, or you remember the fun of a warm summer evening watching movies on that giant screen there are still places in South Dakota and around Sioux Falls you can do it.

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