Pat Kroeplin and Ann Daley: Summer events at the Senior Center
The Coffee Klatch: Not Just a Girl Thing I think I can speak for most women when I say we all enjoy getting together with our girl friends for a cup of coffee and a little gossip now and then. Getting together with the same friends every morning,...
The Coffee Klatch: Not Just a Girl Thing
I think I can speak for most women when I say we all enjoy getting together with our girl friends for a cup of coffee and a little gossip now and then. Getting together with the same friends every morning, five days a week until the end of time, is quite another thing.
Well, I’m going to tell you about a group of guys who have been doing this and enjoying it for the past 63 years and continue to carry on this tradition today.
According to Bill Howe this morning coffee ritual began in 1952 with just a few guys meeting at the Third Street Cafe. These men have since met at various places in town, including the old Quistgaard Drug Store, the Coachman Cafe and Northern National Bank. They settled into the Senior Center in 2008 and this is where they continue to meet today. Turns out this is the perfect spot for these old retired gentlemen. They have their digs in the basement where they can talk as loud and as long as they want. Their meeting room is appropriately referred to as “Charlie’s Place,” so named after Charlie Naylor who was “the leader of the pack” for many years.
Coffee Drinkers and Story Tellers
It seems Ade Mann (Kool-Ade as he is known) has picked up where Charlie left off. He has been Chief Brew Master for eight years, which means he has been in charge of making coffee for the group. Recently, the Nutrition Site took over this task. He is also “the keeper of the funds.” Although this coffee club is for “men only” there are no other rules or requirements for membership. Everyone is welcome. There is one thing. Anyone who attends must pay $5 a month to sit in a chair to drink their coffee. The rest of the income comes from the proceeds of a foolish numbers guessing game. The loser is stuck with having to buy coffee for everyone who attends that day and since coffee is .25 cents per cup, Ade will collect about $5 from somebody. And what do they do with this money? Since there is no charge to use the Senior Center, the club likes to make a donation to the center each year. The rest is given to other worthy causes.
Ade has been drinking coffee with his friends since 1963. When asked why he continues to show up day after day, year after year, he said, “Someone is bound to tell a good story and I don’t want to miss it.”
Wisdom and Then Some
There is a plaque on the wall of the meeting room which includes the names of coffee drinkers who have gone on to their last “big adventure.” They are known as “The Empty Cuppers” and at the bottom of the plaque is written the words “Uff Da.” The men on this list came from many walks of life; they probably came up with lots of important information and advice for the group at one time or another. I’m told there was plenty of humor and lots of wisdom among these men. And judging from my visit with the group today, I’d say these guys are probably continuing to impart some of that same kind of wisdom today.
Although sometimes as many as 22 men show up, during the winter months there may be only eight to 10. On this day, there were 19 and that was quite enough as they were all talking and laughing at once. Never mind they just saw each other yesterday they actually seemed happy to see one another again today. Most everyone is over 80 although a few are in their 70s. A couple of attendees didn’t divulge their age! Most of these guys have been drinking coffee together for 20 to 30 years.
What This Bunch is All About
There is a sign posted in the basement which rather says it all. “Lets’ get some coffee so we can be hyper-aware of how little we’re going to get done today.” Another sign says “Come for coffee, cookies and conversation. Remember to bring your wallet.” Comments made by the group who were present last Monday reflect the philosophy of this sign; Jack St. Martin said, “This is a nice place to come to 5 days a week. And what’s really nice is when my wife Marie who is known as the “Cake Lady” makes cake for the gang.” He says he also comes to get information.
• Charlie Noren says, “It’s a good way to start the day and a reason to get out of bed in the morning.”
• Tom Schwartz says that he started coming to the coffee club because his Dad told him he would find wisdom in this group. Tom is the chief high tech person of the group. If someone needs information Tom can “look it up.”
• Twenty years ago Jim Smalley needed a place to get coffee in the morning. He went to Hardees and has been meeting for coffee and conversation ever since.
• Marshall Johnston is one of the younger coffee drinkers. He is only 74. He was a professional ice hockey player at one time. He enjoys the morning coffee and the stories that go with it.
• Wisdom from Bob Wilson; Bob can’t say enough good things about the coffee club. He looked up at the “Empty Cuppers” board and said, “That was a great bunch of guys up there and there continues to be a great bunch here. I always enjoy coming here. I would really miss it if it wasn’t here. We have people from all walks of life. I like all the diverse ideas and I like the numbers game”. He sums it all up by saying, “I walk out better than when I came.”
• Lloyd Lind has been connected to the coffee club for 35 years. He enjoys the company and the different ideas and opinions of this great group.
• Jack Spangenburg joined the group in 2004. His wife died two years ago and since then has found the group especially supportive and helpful.
• Rookie John Erickson is the “new kid on the block”. He has been attending morning coffee for only five years. “Wayne Thorson told me to come and get some therapy.” In addition to that, he gets the local and national news.
• Gerry Johnson is one of the golfers of the bunch. He said, “This coffee club is a great representative group as to what the town is all about.”
• Wayne Thorson is 89. He enjoys this group of guys because, “You can say what you want to say because nobody can hear and nobody listens.” He likes the good discussions and misses the group in the winter. Wayne tidies up the place each day after the meeting. He sees to it that the chairs are placed properly around the table, probably a carryover for when he lined up all those construction trucks so perfectly.
• Harlan Scherer has been involved with the group since 1991. He, like so many of the other guys, just enjoys coming each day. He appreciates the group and said they often attend funerals together.
• Although very little is said about the subject of work, Chester Yon says that he is the only attendee who is still working but “that depends on how you define work.”
• Bob Montebello says he works harder than anyone in the group. He must be referring to all the fundraising he does. And then again it could just be his maple syrup business.
No Grumpy Old Men Here
So to sum it all up, I will say it like Bob Wilson did. I just actually did feel better after I spent the morning with the coffee club! They were a happy, humorous, hospitable bunch of guys who value the wonderful friendships they have developed over the years. What they really appreciate about the group is that there is no texting or talking on cell phones when the coffee klatch is in session!!!
I am sorry if I inadvertently left out any coffee drinker in this story. Your wisdom will have to be for another time.
• Aug. 12 at 1 p.m., Classic Country Concert.
• Aug. 17 the last day to sign up for the Aug. 31 State Fair bus trip.
• Aug. 18 at 1 p.m., Movie: “God’s Not Dead.”
• Aug. 19 at 10:30 a.m., Kiros Alive: Participatory Arts
• Aug. 20 at 1 p.m., Movie: “Bemidji, the Middle Years.”
• Aug. 26 at 1 p.m., Presentation sponsored by NARFE, Doug Easthouse, “Bombing of the Big Bog.”
• Aug. 28 at 1 p.m. – BINGO
• Sept. 4, 9 a.m. to noon, last day for property tax and rental rebate help.
• Card ladies meet from 8:30 to 10:30 a.m. each Monday.
• Wood Carvers meet from 9 to 11 a.m. each Wednesday.
• Pancake Breakfast, 8 to 10:30 a.m. the second Saturday of every month
• Senior Creation Craft Shop open 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday and during Pancake Breakfasts.
• Sept. 8: Duluth bus trip including the Glensheen Mansion. Watch for more details.
Thank you to Cindy and John Kingsbury and friends for the great music last month. It was wonderful to see so many people dancing and listening.