Making coffee

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Forty-nine years ago, after I graduated from college, my first job was teaching vocational agriculture at a small, rural school, in Southcentral Missouri, just a few miles north of the Arkansas line.

The community was a wonderful place to live and work. Even though my life’s ventures have taken me far, far away in both time and distance, I still run into friends and former students from that time and place who sremind me of our moments together.

There were three ag teachers at that school, with two of us devoting all of our time to high school students, while the third teacher mostly concentrated on teaching adults and young farmers. I had been on the job for a couple of months, when the adult teacher phoned me to see if I could do him a favor. He was running late and, since I lived less than a mile from school, he asked if I could run over and brew a pot of coffee, in preparation for the young farmers’ meeting, scheduled for 7 p.m., that evening. Happy to help out a more experienced teacher, I readily agreed to arrive early enough to start the coffee.

Our agriculture department owned a 45-cup, electric coffee maker — the kind that heated the water and percolated it through a stainless-steel vat that fit in the top of the machine. Today, it would be considered an antique, but it was state-of-the-art for 1974. 

I filled the coffee maker with water, retrieved the 5-pound can of Maxwell House coffee beside it, and then proceeded to fill the coffee vat with coffee. I turned the switch to start.

By the time the young farmers started arriving, the aroma of freshly brewed java filled the classroom. The adult teacher even commented on how good the coffee smelled as he thanked me, profusely, for coming in early and brewing it. I smiled, knowing that I had been of help.

I can’t really quote the exact statement made by the first farmer who took a drink, but it’s safe to say it couldn’t be printed in this family-friendly publication. Others in attendance, wondering what all the commotion was, took small portions in their Styrofoam cups, and began a combination of spitting and laughing, as they discovered I had used 2 1/2 pounds of coffee.

A couple of months ago, at a statewide cattleman’s meeting, I ran into an old friend from that first school. Even though it had been over 30 years since we last talked, I was anxious to catch up on how he and his family were doing, but as he approached me, he started smiling, stuck out his hand to shake, and immediately asked, “Did you ever learn how to make coffee?”

Jerry Crownover is a farmer and former professor of Agriculture Education at Missouri State University. He is a native of Baxter County, Arkansas, and an author and professional speaker. Jerry’s daily exploits on the farm are now viewable on YouTube at “lifeissimple678”.To contact Jerry, go to ozarksfn.com and click on ‘Contact Us.’

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