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Sunday, Nov. 29, 2015

Gray Matters: A good laugh

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Some days we are seriously in need of a good laugh. If it doesn't happen to be such a day for you, save this for when one comes along.

A former student of mine, who now lives in California, was here for a family reunion. She and several of her immediate family were calling on a classmate of hers who invited me to join them.

The California visitor was Dorothy McConnell Faul, whose late husband was Duane Faul. That name may not ring a bell for many of you, but his father was the Methodist minister here when I came to Marcus to teach those many years ago.

He had been our minister in central Iowa before he took this appointment, so all of the family members were my good friends. Duane's older twin sisters were my contemporaries and he had been just their "pesky kid brother."

But those few years later, in the midst of WW II, all of us were writing to all of the fellows we knew who were in service. Duane was one of my correspondents. Suddenly, I noticed something unusual about his letters.

Inside, they were the same witty accounts of his training experiences, and the like, but on the outside of each envelope there would be cryptic little notations-- things like, "I will never forget that last late wonderful evening we spent together." All rather suggestive and based on absolutely no reality.

That kept me increasingly puzzled. After a few months, he was home on leave and, of course, I was invited to the parsonage to see him. As soon as I had a chance, I asked him what on earth those goofy little notes were all about. Grinning, he asked, "Don't your students pick up the mail for you?"

When I assured him I picked up my own mail from the post office, his face fell. You see, where he had gone to high school the parsonage was on one side of town and the school on the other. So returning from lunch each day he'd pick up the teachers' mail and deliver it to them. He had assumed we had the same arrangement here in Marcus. As the old saying goes, "With friends like that, who needs enemies?"

Duane was set on circulating some juicy rumors around town, but his plot was foiled. His sons who have the same mischievous gleam in their eyes appreciated hearing that story. All told, we spent a great time together that recent lovely summer morning.

Thinking back, I realize it could well be something genetic, for Duane's father, who was one of my favorite ministers, had a similar streak. Are you ready for another story? During that same leave, when I visited several times at the parsonage, we usually ended the evening playing cards.

After visiting a while, his dad would retire to read in his easy chair across the room, while Duane taught the rest of us how to play poker, a skill he had recently acquired in the army. We had a great time.

Once, a good many years later when Rev. Faul and I were recalling those visits, I playfully asked him how he thought people would react if I told them I learned to play poker in the Methodist parsonage. With a perfectly straight face (Guess I could call it a "poker" face) he responded, in an incredulous tone, "Poker? Why I thought you were playing Hearts!"

Yes, I think you will agree; it has to be an inherited trait! And I am sure you will also agree that I have been blessed, over the years, with quite a few delightful friends!