The last two days I have been reminiscing about Brooklyn. I was born in Brooklyn NY. It was a wonderful experience growing up in the borough of trees and churches. I’ll bet most of you didn’t know that Brooklyn was known as the Borough of Churches, but it is. Every year on Brooklyn Day in June, all around the borough there would be parades. The parades were very unique, they were Sunday School parades. I came across this picture of one of those parades on facebook:
I am the one on the second row on the far left. My mother was our Sunday School teacher. I think that year we studied the Kings I & II from the Old Testament. My mother made crown shaped books for us to write something about the kings. One week we’d write that this king was a good king and loved God, next week he was a bad king and disobeyed God. Such is the state of humanity to this day. My mind and heart were roaming around Brooklyn and Salem Gospel Tabernacle yesterday when I realized it was time to change my clothes. I had a Cattlemen’s Association banquet to go to in Ward SD.
I changed my clothes no less than four times yesterday. I couldn’t seem to settle on what to wear. Finally I chose one of two dress pants I own and jazzed it up with a tank, jacket and a scarf. We headed for Ward.
Ward has a population of 49 – yes, only 49 people. I’d been there before to the restaurant that was holding the banquet. It had been an interesting experience. Food was good but we were starred at quite a bit.
Flooding dotted the sides of the road as we left the interstate for the 15 miles to Ward. Passing a semi with a flat tire, we pulled into Ward and parked in front of the Wisconsin Synod Lutheran Church.
Cars were everywhere. This banquet brought cattle folk from two counties and swelled the town to quadruple its size. We entered the Feather’s Nest ready for the evening. Like something out of the Twilight Zone, I began to realize that I had entered another dimension. My mind was still back in Brooklyn, my body in Ward.
My husband greeted a few people; we paid our money and found a seat. I recognized the two men we were seated with and exchanged greetings. Another couple came and sat across from us. They lived near the booming metropolis of Bruce SD, population 260.
The conversation around me centered on cows. What else would you talk about at a Cattlemen’s Banquet? The woman from Bruce was talking to the young man sitting next to me. He appeared to be about 13 years old. She was asking him about his showmanship at the Fair. Something I have never understood is showing livestock. But it is a big deal here in SD. Evidently the young chap had done well. She encouraged him in his endeavors telling him about a workshop in Sioux Falls where he could develop his showmanship skills.
My brain wandered off and returned in time to hear another conversation between the woman and the young man. She was telling him about the high tech equipment they have on their farm. She glowingly shared that they have an antenna on the top of their silo. This antenna is connected to a computer in their barn. All of this is to record information about their cows. It seems that attached somewhere to each cow is a transmitter. Pretty high tech stuff, wouldn’t you say?
She went on to explain the purpose of all of this technology. The transmitter recorded when the cow was in heat. Yes, when the cow was in heat! They now knew the moment the cow went into heat and for how long. I sat there thinking... how did a nice little Norwegian girl from Brooklyn ended up at this table listening to this conversation. It went on. She told him that this transmitter records when and how many times the cow was rode while in heat. I nearly spit out my water on that one…
Now I understand-if you raise beef you need to know this stuff. I like steak. I like hamburger. I know where it comes from and how it gets to my plate. Nonetheless, it was hard for this Brooklyn girl to appreciate this as a dinner conversation. Sort of reminded me of a scene from a movie where the city girl goes to the country.
I looked around. There was this 7-foot man with Wrangler work jeans with the crotch nearly to his knees, plaid western shirt and no teeth talking to the man in Dickies work jeans with the bright green John Deere suspenders. I thought yep, I’m definitely not in Brooklyn; this is not like any place else I’ve ever been.
We got our salad but I passed on the pickled herring. I may be Norwegian and we always had a jar of Vita Pickled Herring in the fridge, but I never acquired the taste for it. Sitting down, we noticed a table had been added to our string of tables. Someone exclaimed: we aren’t last anymore, we must not be good Lutherans. I know there is a private joke there somewhere.
As the meal concluded the man across from me stuff chew in his mouth for dessert. The program started. We returned to the theme of showing cattle at the Fairs and achievement days. One of the big winners was also the young woman who was the first runner up for Miss SDSU. It seems that you can be a beauty pageant contestant and champion cattle show-person. Who knew? Not me.
Okay, so some of you are laughing and some of you are mad at me. I admit I don’t get it. I don’t get it at all.
My purpose though is not to laugh at these good people who provide me with the best hamburgers and steaks you can find anywhere. If you want to laugh, laugh at me. Laugh at the irony of God taking someone who walked the streets of Brooklyn. Someone who knows the NYC subway system well and can find her way around Manhattan to this day. Then picture them in Ward SD on a Monday night for a Cattleman’s Banquet.
Is this what they mean when you say God is stretching you?