Old farmers and lunch
Mealtimes in my neighborhood are as follows: breakfast around 7 in the morning, coffee time around 10 AM; dinner at noon; lunch around 4 and supper after dark. There’s no such thing as brunch. Brunch is for people who are too lazy to get up in time for breakfast.
Retired farmers tend to congregate around the time they used to break for afternoon lunch. They used to gather at the General store, around a pot belly stove and when the old mercantiles started to give way to specialty shops – like grocery stores, Post Offices, feed stores, fabric shops and furniture stores, they had to find someplace else. Some of them started landing at barber shops, and still do. Some of them found their way to a local café that stays open past the dinner hour. Here, they might find a piece of pie leftover from the noon rush. Any place that owned a working coffeemaker and a few chairs. And in little towns like Nickerson, where there is nothing but a mini-mart/gas station, they gather there.
Discussion is much the same at every table; the weather, the price of corn, the weather, “How much rain didja git?” who moved to town, the weather, whose funeral is next Monday, and so on. If you dozed off at a table in the mini-mart in Nickerson and woke up at the café in Tekamah, you wouldn’t know the difference. Even the weather beaten faces peeking out from under the bills of seedcorn caps and the gnarled hands folded around the coffee mug seem to be interchangeable.
Here are some phrases you are sure to hear no matter where you some across this group:
“I tell you what, it wasn’t like that when I was a kid!”
“We never had it that easy!”
“I never woulda got away with anything like that.”
“Boy, they sure don’t make ‘em like that anymore.”
I think that the conversations are probably timeless. Every generation making the same declarations about the next one, for as long as there have been families.