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On Sunday morning, the first day of summer, June 22, at 11 a.m., 57 people got on a coach bus behind Slumberland in Albert Lea. The destination was Plymouth Playhouse Theatre in Plymouth, MN. The occasion was the Church Basement Ladies’ presentation of “The Last Potluck Supper” at their Lutheran church on a September afternoon in 1979 (Also their centennial celebration.)

As the bus departed, the passengers clapped and cheered very loudly. They told Marty, the driver, they would clap and cheer for him again when he got us back safely that evening

Genie and I looked at each other in disbelief, as this was not the conduct of Lutherans. We decided the non-Lutherans on the bus were a very good influence on us stoic Norwegian Lutherans.

Women of Central Freeborn Lutheran Church sponsored the trip. Genie Hanson was the ladies’ host. She introduced co-chair Gale Nelson and Donna Peterson. Mary Ann Atchison helped her draw two prize winners. Violet Hanssen and Betty Johnson were winners of red Jell-O, fruit cocktail and a tea towel, as passengers clapped and cheered loudly. (By now even most of the stoic Norwegian Lutherans were with it.)

Genie turned the mic over to long-winded hubby, me. I asked all the passengers to notice the freeway sign on their right of “Hope One Mile.” I brought it to the attention of the few still stoic Norwegian Lutherans that they had one mile to get with it or they would be just like the bus: “beyond Hope.” There was clapping and loud cheering.

With Marty in the driver’s seat and luckily no stop-and-go traffic, we arrived a half hour before the theatre opened.

The performance began just like a Lutheran church service, with announcements. Pastor Tim Drake, a non-Lutheran cast member, recognized the four Lutheran groups that were there. He wished a happy, that day, birthday to Ardie Madson, a member of the Central Freeborn group. (The bus passengers clapped and cheered loudly.)

The first act was of the September 1979 centennial celebration. The following acts were flashbacks of events leading up to the centennial. The centennial celebration was both sad and happy. Sad because the church was closing due to low membership and declining population in the rural church area – thus, an auction that day selling everything, including the church building. Happy because the buyer of the church was moving it to a museum location to be used for social activities.

The cast did an excellent upbeat closing with music as part of the recognition of “Moving On.” The bus passengers clapped and cheered loudly.

Everyone found their way back to the bus and we headed for a 6 p.m. buffet meal at Kentucky Fried Chicken in Owatonna. We sang “Happy Birthday” to Ardie – as usual those words “How old are you?” echoed through the bus. Ardie took the mic and answered, “I’m old enough to know you can have fun at any age. I hope after today you know that, too!” The bus passengers clapped and cheered loudly.

The buffet and service was excellent. In fact, so good that Lowell Elmer led us as he called out the KFC staff for recognition by us doing “Hip, Hip, Hooray” in unison three times with each time louder. The KFC staff clapped and cheered loudly.

As was promised, there was more clapping and loud cheering for Marty as we safely pulled into Slumberland.

This week’s column has a message to all you readers. Please re-read what Ardie Madson said as you listen to yourself clapping and cheering loudly.

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Bob is a retired AAL (Aid Association for Lutherans) agent, currently working on his master’s degree in Volunteering. His wife, Genie, is a retired RN, currently working on her doctor’s degree in Volunteering. They have two children, Deb in North Carolina, and Dan in Vermont. Bob says if you enjoy his column, let him know. If you don’t enjoy it, keep on reading, it can get worse. Words of wisdom: There is always room for God.

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