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Monday, 07 November 2011

Morning Coffee — An Elder Tradition

By Barbara Sloan

We started going to the bakery because we liked the donuts and coffee. We sat at a table by ourselves and shared the local newspaper.

There was usually a group of couples at a table near by. The square tables were made for four people. Most of the time, two extra chairs were added on the corners. Sometimes the number of couples increased and they slid two tables together to accommodate up to eight or 10 people.

For several weeks, along with reading the paper, I studied the group. The talk was loud and the laughter continuous. As the weeks went by, I started nodding or saying hello to some of the ‘regulars’ that always seemed to be there. Occasionally, when the group was small, someone would turn, or open a space that included my husband and me.

At first we were quiet, learning who these people were. Most of them had grown up in this medium-sized community. Ages ranged between 60 and the early 80s. Occasionally, the topic of children or grandchildren arose but mostly people shared interesting and/or amusing stories, either current adventures or history-based stories of themselves or people in the community with whom they had been raised.

Laughter held the group together. The couple in their 80s had been in high school together, graduated about 60 years ago and promptly married. He had been an architect. Money was more plentiful in those years. Now they squeaked by on Social Security living in a small house they owned.

They told stories about their adventures with the 10 motorcycles and four convertible cars they had shared during their working years. They each had their own motorcycle and drove in tandem on trips. The other day someone asked him why he got rid of the motorcycles.

“Well,” he said, “When I was 75, we had ridden about 20 miles to the next town. We turned around to come back. The highway was absolutely clear. About two miles before the turnoff to our road, I looked down and the speedometer read 90mph. I slowed to make the turn and realized I had lost my wife.

“In those days, we didn’t have cell phones so I had no idea what happened to her. I sat on the corner, thinking maybe she would show up. She showed up, all right.

“For some reason, there was a blue cloud floating around her head. Then she came within hearing distance, and you don’t want to know what caused the blue cloud. I decided I was too old to control myself, and I sold both of the bikes.”

We all laughed.

We have been part of the group now for more than a year. The other day someone brought up the topic of how much they liked pasties — a traditional meat pie that miners carried inside their shirts when they went to work in the copper mines up north. It helped them to keep warm as they walked in the cold weather. They left it under their shirt while they worked so it would stay warm for their lunch.

One of the men said, “The first time I went up north I saw the signs advertising pasties. I told my wife, these people up here don’t know how to spell the word pastries. I can’t imagine what they taste like. (Laughter)

Someone else chimed in. “We were coming home from up north and stopped in a little restaurant advertising pasties. I went up to the counter and asked for paste-ees. I thought the waitress gave me a funny look but she didn’t say anything.

An old geezer with a cane standing next to me said, “Sonny, I don’t know where you are from but these things are pasties to eat. Paste-ees are little things women wear on their tits.”

The group roared with laughter.

Others come into the bakery to buy coffee or rolls. Some stop and ask, “Have you solved the world’s problems?”

This elder coffee klatch doesn’t solve world problems. The humor and good will in this group help us live with and survive world problems that seem so out of our control.

[INVITATION: All elders, 50 and older, are welcome to submit stories for this blog. They can be fiction, non-fiction, poetry, memoir, etc. Instructions for submitting are here.]

Posted by Ronni Bennett at 05:30 AM | Permalink | Email this post


Good story, it is wonderful if we oldies can form groups. The laughter is so contagious. Too much time is spent with kids, grandkids, worrying, helping, trying to understand all the newfangled things and attitudes. A good senior group like you are in is worth its weight in gold.

How true, how true..it is why I love joining these comments...

I love pasties, but never knew just how to pronounce them. I never ordered them because I was always afraid someone would take the other meaning for the meat pies.

I agree with Mary..I love commenting on everyone's stories because we sometimes start a fun discussion.

One of the bad parts of living to old age is that most of your friends and relatives have passed on and you don't have a "round table" anymore unless you join one on your computer.

Thanks to Ronni we have a terrific group here who meet almost every morning and exchange ideas with each other.

Thanks for the interesting topic, Barbara.....

Finding a group of companions is such a wonderful addition to your/my life. It's so enjoyable to exchange ideas, experiences and the pleasures and worries of living.

Some great knowledge I can share with many who will be interested. Our church (in Kalamazoo, MI)sells pasties as part of its annual fund raiser. This year volunteers are ready to produce 10,000 pasties to meet expected demand.

Your comments will be used in a church newsletter item, and many will be delighted to learn the pastie history. Incidentally, things have progressed to the point that a vegetarian pastie is offered. Tried one last year, and it was very good.

Thanks for a delightful story.

Thanks for sharing your comment. What church and when do you sell them?
I would like to drive down from Holland and sample what you make. I love pasties and glad you can use the info for your church newsletter.
Barbara Sloan

Barbara--People's Church (Unitarian-Universalist) at 1758 North 10th Street, Kalamazoo. Pastie sales are part of a bazaar that starts at 9 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 19, and runs all day.

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