Pouts, preachers and persimmons


It’s been eight long, commentary-filled months since readers who’ve dropped letters, e-mails and napalm on me have had their say.

Sorry, but time screams by when you read, write and nap as much as I do. The market crash, bank bailout, election and my views on each brought torrents of mail.

For example, Dan H. wrote a long, to-the-woodshed missive that slowly undressed me for not “printing the truth about these…fiascos…promoted by the liberals for the sole purpose of maintaining power over the people.”

A few smacks later he closed by suggesting “the ‘lovely Catherine’ must be a saint to put up with someone who has such as sour attitude about life” as me.

Opinions are welcome

As I’ve noted from the start of this column 15 years ago, all opinions are welcome — even when they burn my ears or tan my hide.

Also, Dan, terrific insight on the lovely Catherine: she is a saint.

A couple of days either side of receiving Dan’s spanking, I got punches from Frank Mc., Jake E. and Phil H., among others, that hit the identical points (and teeth); so much so that all mentioned one or more members of the same evil cabal I didn’t know even existed — Bill Clinton, Barney Frank, Chris Dodd and Alan Guebert.

Wow, some radio reactionary read that week’s column over the air to elicit such strikingly similar commentary and anger?

Most writers weren’t so incensed.

Many were like D.W.K. who wrote in the tiniest script on the tiniest postcard mailed last November that “For me, your articles are the highlight of the Cattleman’s Advocate…for your cogent social criticism of…contemporary American life.” Wow, at least one person gets it.


Regardless of the reason most readers write, nothing elicits more snail mail, e-mail and, at least according to their writers, tears than columns about my memories of the long-gone days on my family’s southern Illinois dairy farm.

For example, an August column about hot summer Sundays and the Lutheran ways of my family knew to heat ’em up even more brought Catholic, Methodist, Baptist and Unitarian — not to mention plenty of Missouri Synod — mail from every corner of the country.

“At first there was just a drop or two on the paper,” wrote John H. from Kansas, “but by the time I finished reading your article, the paper was more wet than dry.”

One writer, both a dairy science professor and a one-time Lutheran confessor, wrote to recall his childhood churchgoing.

A half-stick of Juicy Fruit gum, he noted, “gave you to minimize fidgeting during…interminable, boring sermons (and) the implicit pew assignments reminded me of our Holsteins always finding the right stalls.”

Bulls-eye, Doc; and I’m with you on the idea that “I don’t think I chewed a full stick of gum until I was a teenager.” That’s the Lutheran way, after all.

Thanksgiving column

A Thanksgiving column explained how, in 1975, I spent that holiday milking cows on University of Illinois’ South Farms.

I didn’t miss my holiday feast, however, because a cafeteria Kaiser named Heinrichs, the boss of my second job, invited me to share her dinner.

That meal ended, I wrote, with the finest persimmon pudding I have ever tasted before or since.

Well, don’t you know, the south-central Illinois farm boy who supplied those persimmons 33 years ago (and a fellow soldier in Mrs. H’s kitchen) dropped me an e-mail that contained the both the recipe of the divine pudding and an offer to send me some “persimmon pulp — if you’re short.”

Dan K., I was born short and you were born a peach.

Keep ’em coming

Hey, keep reading and keep those howls, letters and persimmons coming.


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Alan Guebert was raised on an 800-acre, 100-cow southern Illinois dairy farm. After graduation from the University of Illinois in 1980, he served as a writer and editor at Professional Farmers of America, Successful Farming magazine and Farm Journal magazine. His syndicated agricultural column, The Farm and Food File, began in June, 1993, and now appears weekly in more than 70 publications throughout the U.S. and Canada. He and spouse Catherine, a social worker, have two adult children. farmandfoodfile.com



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