OPINION

Coffee Time Pour a cup and join me

Ronna Lawless

This is the first newspaper column I’ve written in many years, and it’s the first I’ve ever written under the title Coffee Time. I decided on that name for a few reasons. For one thing, it’s a nod to the first columnist I ever read, Donald Kaul, who wrote Over The Coffee for the Des Moines Register. I remember being a little kid, living in Zearing, going to school in McCallsburg, and not being a big fan of reading a newspaper except to look at the comics. When I was in about third grade, my Dad was laughing at something in the paper, and I read it. It was Kaul. And I was immediately enamored by his wit.

Later, I read a collection of Kaul’s columns that were published in a book titled “How to Light a Water Heater and Other War Stories,” which is hard to find now but remains one of the funniest things I’ve ever read. For column writing, both Kaul and Robert Waller, who was a columnist prior to his “Bridges of Madison County” fame, provided inspiration for me to write my own.

The other reason for the title of my column is that, growing up, coffee time was really one of the central social times for my family. Even as a little kid, when I didn’t drink the stuff yet, I would sometimes sit at the table with the grownups and listen to some of their visiting. It was very much a Danish tradition. The meal system for Danes goes something like this: breakfast, coffee, lunch, coffee, supper, coffee. The coffee meal consists of more than just the beverage; there are usually delicious treats, and there is always visiting.

Even the Danish farmers would take time for a coffee break. My Dad tells the tale of when he was a little boy in rural Kimballton and would love to take lunch to the men in the field. Coffee would be delivered in a mason jar, and if he was lucky, he would be offered a “kaffe låg” or coffee lid. His Dad would pour a little bit of coffee in the inverted lid of the jar and that would be my Dad’s treat.

As for me, I’m a Story County girl for the most part. I’ve lived in other parts of the state, as well as Chicago (where my son TJ now lives and works) and Omaha. But I’ve spend most of my life in this area. For many years in the 1970s, I lived in Zearing with my parents, Otto and Shirley Faaborg (who now live in Ames), and my brothers, Rhett and Rand (who now live in Nevada and rural Radcliffe, respectively). I rode the bus to school in McCallsburg, and once threatened to run away from our Zearing home and go there. My Dad was the high school principal at Nesco in the ‘70s before the school consolidated with Colo, and in recent years he was a substitute teacher at Ballard. I’m a 1985 Nevada High School grad, although I went to Roland-Story freshman year. I’ve lived in Ames since 2000, and during much of that time I’ve worked for this very newspaper. But after about a decade as a newspaper writer and editor, I took a hiatus from it for several years. I’m happy that my colleagues here have welcomed me back. I look forward to becoming acquainted, or reacquainted, with people in the readership area. I welcome your feedback, comments and ideas.

And I’d love to share a coffee break with you occasionally.

(Ronna Lawless is a staff writer for the Nevada Journal and Tri-County Times.)