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As old as the dinosaurs

Thursday, August 11th, 2016

120115-BobBasketball.45web James Naismith Otto, the inventor of basketball and the sports’ very first stoneage player.

It’s my birthday and I was asked at Starbucks this morning by a young barista who has yet to shave: “Bob, just how old are you!?”

I didn’t want to answer numerically, so I said, “well, let me tell you this way.”

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First Day of Summer And The Kid Is Playing Hoops

Tuesday, June 21st, 2016

120115-BobBasketball.45web Senior or masters basketball has become a popular sport for kids at heart, from baby boomers to those well into their 70s and 80s.

YUCAIPA – I remember as a kid rarely touching a basketball in June. Summers on a Minnesota farm were spent baling hay and cultivating about 220 acres of corn and soybeans from sun up to sun down.

For hardworking farm boys, precious free time for sports was spent in a cow pasture, or freshly baled hay field playing baseball or fast-pitch softball.

Basketball? Not even a thought. It’s a winter sport and in June there’s no snow on the ground.

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Remembering Gunny Sproul

Monday, May 30th, 2016


Gunnery Sergeant, Robert L. Sproul, a Marine’s Marine

YUCAIPA, CA – Every so often I reach up to the top shelf of my bookcase and pull out my Marine Corps graduation book. There were 72 of us in Platoon 1061 of the First Battalion. The pages are filled with pictures of smoothed faced men – boys really, ages 18, 19, 20 some as old as 23.

The pages show pictures of us climbing ropes, jumping across water ponds suspended in midair with our M14 rifles thrust out in front of us, on the parade deck marching to the deep-throated commands of a drill instructor, standing at attention during inspection, and on Sunday afternoon’s off, writing letters home to our moms.


Gunnery Sergeant Robert L. Sproul is seated in the middle behind the Platoon 1061 banner.

Platoon 1061 was all gung ho in boot camp at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot, San Diego in the summer of 1967. We felt destined to go to “Nam” and win the war against communism.

And we wanted Gunnery Sergeant Robert L. Sproul to lead us.

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Old backyard friend gets a reprieve

Monday, June 2nd, 2014

060214-Plum_Tree.867lr The old plum tree has lost some limbs and has been decaying, but in its 62 years of living and growing in the Otto’s backyard, it continues to produce delicious Santa Rosa plums year after year. Photo By BOB OTTO

YUCAIPA, Calif. – Our backyard has long been anchored by two old fruit trees, an apple and a plum. In the 35 years we’ve lived in the home, both trees have born lush fruit. Never failing, year after.

Our deed states the home was built in 1952. So I’m guessing the trees were planted about the same time. So bushels and bushels of plums and apples have been picked or fallen from those two trees. Not only feeding my family and friends, but also the flock of wild parrots that seem to know just when the fruit is ripe and ready for gorging.

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Mind and body reach compromise: play at old Bill’s pace

Monday, July 22nd, 2013

senior.Bball.web Bob Otto, front row, far left, and his senior basketball playing buddies find it hard to give up the game even with an assortment of nagging and sometimes serious injuries.

YUCAIPA, Calif – I have two parts to my being that sometimes argue over each other’s judgement – my mind and my body.

I play basketball in a senior pick-up league. We’re all a bunch of old guys with the youngest about 52. And way, way on the other side of the age spectrum is “old Bill” as we call him, at 81. I’m in the middle at 64.

But I seem to be the one getting hurt the most: pulled hamstring, strained calf muscles, two elbow shots to the mouth, a bloodied nose, and a sprained ankle along with a sore back.

But nothing too serious to keep me off the court. That is until July 1st.

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Southern Californians don’t know cold

Thursday, January 17th, 2013

manurespreader

YUCAIPA, CALIF – It’s 34 degrees this morning and Southern Californian’s – accustomed to sunshine and warmth – are bitching about the cold. Many of my fellow Yucaipans are bundled up in stocking caps and scarves, mittens and long underwear.

“Brrrr, it’s freezing!” they exclaim. Little do they know real cold – much less FREEZING temps where the thermometer plunges well below zero. I’m a farm-raised Minnesotan. I can tell you about unbearable winter weather, and so I will.

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Grandpa, can you take me to my basketball game?

Monday, May 3rd, 2010


My beautiful grandchildren, Cameron, 16, and Haylee, 11.

YUCAIPA, CA – How old are you grandpa, my grandson Cameron asked me today after I picked him up at school. How old do you think I am? I think 52, but I usually get it wrong. Actually, I’m 48 I said with a straight face. I know you’re not that young! Cam fired back with a laugh.

The joys of grandparenthood.

Cam is 16. Recently he had an accident and his treasured Chevy truck that he owned less than six months was totaled. He feels terrible about the accident. It was his fault. But fortunately no one was seriously hurt – just some bumps and bruises.

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Winter Wonderland In Wells, Minnesota

Tuesday, January 5th, 2010


Photos By Pat and Wally Stenzel / Wells, MN

WELLS, MN – This morning I stepped outside dressed in jogging shorts and a t-shirt. I reached up and plucked a ripe, juicy Naval orange off my citrus tree that grows just outside my back door. I lifted my face to the sun’s morning rays feeling its soothing warmth gently bathing my tired skin.

The weather report calls for mid-60s to low 70s temperatures. Ah, what a beautiful Southern California day.

I went back inside and checked my email. Up popped a message from my sister, Pat Stenzel, and her husband Wally, who live in Wells, Minnesota.

Pat attached pictures showing her small southern Minnesota village buried under an avalanche of snow. Her street was piled high on each side with mounds of snow four feet high.

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My lucky shot

Wednesday, November 18th, 2009

1964-Bob's DeerLR
The big buck taken from the West Woods near Wanamingo in 1964 with my brother John Otto.

WANAMINGO, MINN – When I was a young boy, I liked to hunt and I claimed my share of game – mostly squirrel, rabbit, and pheasant. But my biggest thrill came when I shot my one and only white tail deer. An eight-point buck, weighing over 200 pounds that I bagged in the West Woods near Wanamingo.

I was just 16 on that November Saturday in 1964.

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DNA test for Tassie

Wednesday, October 7th, 2009

YUCAIPA, CA – I’ve read about a DNA test for dogs that can determine their pedigree. I’m thinking of ordering one for Tassie. But I’m afraid of the results.

A little Golden Retriever, definitely. Some Springer Spaniel, no doubt.

Beaver? Quite possibly. Woodchuck, maybe that too.

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