Culinary no-no #513


You see them.

In the morning.

Almost every morning.

Groups of men.

The same men.

At the same table.

In the same place.

Drinking coffee.

Swapping stories.

Linley Sanders of the Kansas City Star wrote about this phenomenon in June of 2014. Her article included this photo:

Image result for The Worthless Men’s Breakfast Club convenes on Wednesdays for coffee, complaining and comradeship at a Hy-Vee supermarket’s restaurant in Independence.  Photo: FRED BLOCHER The Kansas City Star

The Worthless Men’s Breakfast Club convenes on Wednesdays for coffee, complaining and comradeship at a Hy-Vee supermarket’s restaurant in Independence.  Photo: FRED BLOCHER The Kansas City Star

Sanders captured the appeal of these clubs that are meeting daily all across the country.

Outside a Gladstone McDonald’s, it’s raining. And there’s a flood warning. But Bill Rohde and his group of five is unfazed.

“This is nothing,” Rohde said, glancing out the window at the downpour. “Not like the floods of 1951.”

His buddies nod and echo sounds of agreement. He’s referring to the Kaw River flood, when old junkyard cars had to be piled to reinforce the levee. But not many people remember that anymore, he said.

The ones who do are sitting with him, sipping coffee and chatting, like they’ve been doing almost every day for the past 27 years. All over Kansas City, variations of this activity aren’t unusual for older men.

There are similar meetings at many grocery stores, fast-food restaurants and coffee shops around the city.

“The group of us, we can talk about stuff like that that other people can’t relate to,” Jerry Miller, 75, said. “It makes it easier for a group like us. We can relate to each other.”

Like clockwork, these groups meet each morning. And it’s an understated part of society — though not one that should be underestimated. After all, men have been gossiping over coffee since it arrived on the wharves of Europe. Historian Charles Colby notes that even in 17th-century London, every sect of people had a coffeehouse meeting place where witty conversation could be heard.

The tradition continues, and 21st-century Kansas City is no exception. No fliers advertised social clubs for retirees. But somehow, the groups formed. And somehow, the groups stayed. Often their banter sounds like the plot for a “Grumpy Old Men” spin-off. But each week, come rain or snow, a morning brew accompanies their wisecracks and discussion.

On occasion I stop during the early morning at the Hardee’s right off the expressway in Delafield.  In the back corner eight elderly gentlemen hold court. Can’t miss ’em. They’re a daily fixture.

One day I noticed a change. There were only seven. One gent was missing.

That person’s absence made me immediately think of this guy:

Happy Tourney-versary!: HoopsHD interviews Earl Tatum about Hall of Famer Al  McGuire | Hoops HD

I started my journalism career in 1978, one year after legendary Marquette University basketball coach Al McGuire won his only NCAA championship in his final year of coaching. So I never got to meet or interview him during his amazing Marquette run.

However I did get to interview McGuire a couple of times years later. The topics focused on the annual Al’s Run he started, and retirement.

Somewhere, probably in my basement, the cassette tapes of those interviews are buried that include McGuire discussing true retirement,  getting away completely from basketball announcing and overseeing Al’s Run.

McGuire told me in one of his unforgettable lines that he’d never hang around at some restaurant with a bunch of guys because the first time you wouldn’t show up “they’d be knocking on your door thinking you’re dead.”

Obviously McGuire was engaging in his customary wise-cracking.

There are plenty of positives in those worthless men’s clubs that Sanders wrote about in the Kansas City Star. There’s also a death angle.

And the reality that like the club members, the clubs will come to an end.

Read Sanders’ entire article here.

And BTW, the last time I was in Hardee’s, the table was back to eight.


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5 thoughts on “Culinary no-no #513

  1. Pingback: Culinary no-no #547 | This Just In… From Franklin, WI

  2. Pingback: UPDATE: Culinary no-no #513 | This Just In… From Franklin, WI

  3. Pingback: FLASHBACK Culinary no-no: See you guys for coffee | This Just In… From Franklin, WI

  4. Pingback: UPDATE: Culinary no-no #513 | This Just In… From Franklin, WI

  5. Pingback: How Al McGuire made one of my food blogs | This Just In… From Franklin, WI

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