Alumnus Tom Brokaw shares Dakota Days memories
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Alumnus Tom Brokaw shares Dakota Days memories

A 1964 graduate of USD, Tom Brokaw, a former anchor and managing editor of “NBC Nightly News,” said he has some fond memories from Dakota Days.

Brokaw shared some of these memories in an email with The Volante.


In the fall of 1959 we had a force five blizzard on Dakota Day and I think maybe the parade was cancelled. Maybe even the game (which would have been a blessing because the Coyotes were so bad that in three years my wife, Meredith, never saw them win a game).

For that homecoming I imported a date from the University of Iowa where I had spent my freshman year.

I’m afraid all she saw of USD was The Varsity, the most popular bar in town, and Heck’s, a gas station with a bar and a shuffleboard game.

She was from a prosperous family in the Chicago suburbs and used to the attractions of a Big Ten School. After a blizzard weekend in Vermillion I never saw her again.

In 1961 I was a member of The Dakotans and I think we sold corsages for Dakota Day. We used the proceeds for a keg party at a house I shared with three roommates.

When my parents stopped by on Saturday morning, they were appalled by the condition, so my mother came up with a clever motivational stunt.

When we returned after the parade she announced the university president was coming by with his son, a friend. We raced around the house, stashing empty beer cups, vacuuming spilled potato chips, making beds and doing dishes. When we finished my parents laughed and said, “It worked. The president isn’t coming but if he were he’d be impressed by your housekeeping skills.”

When Meredith and I returned to be parade marshalls in 2012 all of those memories came back – except I didn’t wake up with a hangover and we kept our room neat all weekend.

– Tom Brokaw