FROM MY BACKYARD
By Byron Higgin, Mascot Publisher
A coffee break, according to the internet Wikipedia, is a daily social gathering for a snack and short downtime practiced by employees in business and industry.
The coffee break allegedly originated in the late 19th century in Stoughton, Wisconsin with the wives of Norwegian immigrants.
The city celebrates this every year with the Stoughton Coffee Break Festival.
In 1951, ”Time noted the coffee break has been written into union contracts".
Coffee breaks usually last from 10 to 20 minutes and frequently occur at the end of the first third of the work shift.
In some companies and some civil service, the coffee break may be observed formally at a set hour.
Wow, who wrote these rules, anyway!?!
Here’s my version.
The coffee break actually began in Minneota, Minnesota sometime in the mid 20th Century. It’s origination was at a place called, “The Roundup.”
While it is still observed heartily at The Roundup, by those who pay 40 cents an hour to play cards, and to others who would “pass the time of day”, it’s popularity has spread far and wide throughout Minneota.
It begins every work day, and most often on Saturdays at places like Dalager’s Store, or the Cenex Station, or the Minneota Senior Citizen’s Center.
But invariably, it always ends up at the place it started, “The Roundup.”
The purpose of the coffee break isn’t exactly known, but most men of the community feel that missing it is akin to failing to show up for work that day.
It’s difficult to start the work day until you’ve “checked in” at the usual place.
At Dalager’s Store there’s a nice little table and chairs for the first coffee drinkers to arrive.
If you’re late, well, you have to stand outside the circle of those sitting, holding your coffee patiently, until someone gets up to leave or go get another cup of coffee. At that time you sneak into his spot and start talking so nobody can dispute whether or not you belong in the chair.
Some of the information passed around the table at Dalagers includes sports trivia, weather conditions for farming, old stories from the past, weather conditions for farming and, oh, how good the crops are going to be after all this rain.
There’s other stuff too, but mostly that can’t be put in this column.
So now it’s time to leave Dalager’s and head over to The Senior Center.
There’s a whole new group of guys sitting there. Seems they are always sitting there, in the same places, as though they’ve never left.
Every once in awhile a couple of them will wear a different hat, just so you know they’ve actually left and gone home.
Most of the time is spent trading insults with each other. One guy doesn’t hear so good so he kinda just sits and smiles, but I suspect he’s just smart enough to stay out of the conversation.
Finally, when one or two of these guys gets fed up with the insults, they pull out a dollar bill and start shaking dice.
Seems like it isn’t so much about winning money is being able to say, “There’s mister lucky again. He always wins.”
One guy usually sees another guy come in about the same time, gets up and says, “Here’s a seat, all warmed up for ya.”
Next day, they’re all back again, always in the same places.
So now it’s time to leave the Senior Center and head for The Roundup.
This is kinda the grandpappy of the coffee drinking places.
This place is equipped with ice cream sandwiches, candy bars and pop — in addition to coffee.
And it’s just popular enough that a whole new clientele changes over every hour or so — except maybe in the heat of the battle with the cards flying and a lot of smoke seems to gather over the card tables.
It’s not hard to figure out who the regulars are. They don’t always take the same chair, but they pretty much always tell the same stories.
And like the Senior Center, there’s a bit of good-nature banter about each other.
Well, that’s the report from the coffee shops in Minneota. Haven’t spent much time at the Cenex yet. Will have to get the hang of that later.
So while the Wikipedia tells us how coffee breaks got their start — I’ll have to beg to disagree and stick to the notion it all started in Minneota.
Hey, fill it up again, will ya!
LAUGH A LITTLE: Reported by a travel agency: “A senior Senator called and had a question about the documents he needed in order to fly to China. After a lengthy discussion about passports, I reminded him that he needed a visa. "Oh, no I don't. I've been to China many times and never had to have one of those." I double checked and sure enough, his stay required a visa. When I told him this he said, "Look, I've been to China four times and every time they have accepted my American Express!"
THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK: As my Ole Pappy used to say, “You only live once, but if you work it right, once is enough.” Ole Pappy got the most out of his one life so I guess he was right.