Burger Dinner Joke
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9. Burger Dinner Joke

Pratt Dinner

Saint Rose of LimaEveryone enjoyed a t-bone dinner near the air force base in Great Bend Kansas except one disgruntled lady who came along for the drive. In those days, I traveled many hundreds of miles to take Sunday services, sometimes accompanied by a group of children along for the ride. One morning, talked to my organist on the church steps outside the church in Great Bend. That same afternoon, we traveled seventy miles to Pratt, with the organist's daughter and two other children in tow. As we chatted, a lady in a large hat nearby stood straining to hear our every word! She was "a known character in town" and asked if she might catch a ride along with us to Pratt, where she had a business.

Pratt Air Base

B-52 AircraftMy only condition for agreeing to her request was that she arrange her own meal as a church family farmhouse had invited us for dinner. We drove that day through beautiful rolling wheat fields and past Dutch barns. Large aircraft thundered overhead landing at the Air Base in Pratt. At the church, our lady friend with the large hat stepped out of the car, and after arranging a time to meet her later, we drove off to our prearranged dinner date little knowing what was about to happen later.

Roast Beef

Homemade HamburgerAs the farmhouse came into sight, we smacked our lips at the thought of a roast beef or turkey dinner. Instead, we found a note on the screen door. "Sorry, called me out of town suddenly. Can't prepare dinner for you after all." Disappointed, but now hungrier than ever, we drove down to the coffee shop for hamburgers. Munching away, our organist gazed out of the window deep in thought. Suddenly it occurred to us that the lady with the large hat was waiting on the church steps.

Not Steak

T-Bone Steak and FriesFeeling guilty, we decided to send one small boy along with a hamburger for her. When he strolled up casually with a burger in his hands, she scratched her head in bewilderment, thinking that we should have been at dinner. She thought we had been lying, so she asked the tassel haired boy discreetly, "Where is the Captain, and where did you get this hamburger?" Thinking it was none of her business and as a burger dinner joke, he replied mischievously, "Oh, they're in a classy restaurant downtown eating T-bone steaks and french-fried potatoes!" With a laugh, he ran off down the main street!

T Bone Steak Dinner

Episcopal ChurchWe enjoy a burger and fries and a burger dinner joke in Pratt. As we drove up to Pratt Church, this reserved lady waited impatiently on the steps and pierced us with a furious stare. She sat in silence in the car, her face frozen in a marbled glaze. Escorting her to her door, I began to admonish her in a pastoral way for her harsh attitude. Suddenly, to my utter amazement, she lashed out at the top of her voice, "Don't talk to me, you liar! Fancy giving me a measly hamburger while you were gorging yourselves in that elegant restaurant on a T bone steak dinner and french-fried potatoes." As her door slammed behind me, her words rang in my ears, "T bone steak dinner and french-fried potatoes!" The others in the car grinned and repeated the words back to me. "T bone steak dinner and french-fried potatoes!" The naughty boy, announced as he delivered the hamburger, later asked to be confirmed perhaps to make restitution for his prank!

Runaway Returns Home

Wheat FieldsHe was lost amongst wheat fields, which stretched as far as the eye could see. Police helicopters buzzed overhead as I crawled through scorching dry corn stubble, calling his name. My pleas were urgent as I knew that if the police found him, he would go straight to jail. At last, I spotted him, a dirty crouching bundle at the bottom of a ditch, exhausted and hungry. A runaway boy returns home. Dick changed during his two years in our community. After a spell in the Navy, he related to us how he felt that God was calling him into the Church Army. He asserted, "it especially serves God and man."

Hutchinson Kansas Home

Boy in RagsAt midnight at our Hutchinson Kansas home, a serious-looking teenager covered in the grit and grime of weeks of tramping and living rough came knocking impatiently at our door. He had no suitcase or package but kept on asking the same pathetic question, "Can I come in and stay with you, Mister?" I told him, "You will have to ask the director." The Director's bedroom was through a dark hallway, lit by a tiny red sanctuary light. We knocked and waited.

Can I Stay?

Drawing of Poor BoyWhen it eventually opened, a yawning Father Bob was still searching around for his glasses. The slight little figure stood before him asking, "Can I stay here a while, mister?" After pulling himself together, the Director paused and then said sternly, "Where are your suitcase and your other things?" The boy's answer opened our Hutchinson Kansas home and our hearts to him. "Mister," he said, "this is all I am!" Many boys had already been to court for stealing and shoplifting before they arrived at our Hutchinson Kansas home. These were the most frequent offenses. We tried hard to keep them from getting into trouble again, but unfortunately, we were not always careful.

Hutchinson's Rough Boys

Jesus Saves BadgeHutchinson's rough boys found it difficult to break old habits in Kansas and even stole items from a Bible shop. On one occasion, I took a boy with me on a shopping trip to Hutchinson, Kansas, known as "Hutch," naively assuming that he had overcome his temptation to steal. Everything was going well until the following day. Most of the Hutchinson rough boys sported three or four shiny "Jesus Saves" badges on their tee shirts. "Had some marvelous spiritual renewal taken place?" I puzzled. Then, the truth dawned!

Meissen Porcelain Trinket

Hutchinson KansasThese light-fingered Hutchinson rough boys had stuffed handfuls of multicolor button badges into their pockets in the Bible shop and shared them out among the boys. After a scolding, we gathered them up and returned them with our apologies to the Bible bookstore. Meissen Porcelain TrinketAnother time, the Hutchinson rough boys went on a camping trip to Marx in Colorado and stopped off for dinner in Denver. While the host was preparing the meal, we relaxed in a spacious and expensively furnished dining room displaying a collection of silver trophies. The Hutchinson rough boys curiously picked up the many fascinating porcelain trinkets that our host had gathered on her sightseeing trips to Europe.

Thief's Paradise

Saint FrancisA casual remark by one boy set all the alarm bells within me ringing! "Cap, this is a thief's paradise!" Fortunately, our bus driver Doyle Gates also heard these words, and together we steered everyone as discreetly as we could into another less vulnerable area. Many Hutchinson's rough boys were really "rough stones" and found great difficulty speaking in St. Francis' Chapel. "Ray," I said once to a very solemn boy, "you read that service beautifully." "Read it," he replied with an expressionless gaze, "I know the thing by heart!"

Kansas Church Rags

Colored RagsDifferent colored Kansas Church rags hanging on fence posts in Hayes Kansas was Captain Ray's way of remembering our church members. Seven years later, I journeyed back to the place in Hayes in Kansas, where I had first begun. There, fluttering on the posts and barbed wire fences, were the red, blue, and yellow Kansas church rags I had tied when I first arrived. Tattered and faded, they still fluttered in the breeze, mementos of experiences and adventures. In the prairie lands, there are no street signs or trees for markers. A more methodical person might have counted the number of sections of farmland he had passed on the road. My only way of remembering where people lived was to tie different pieces of colored cloth on their ranch fences. Blue meant "church" people. Red was for Roman Catholic, and yellow indicated no church at all! My rainbow of rags could be another fellow's parish notebook! The friendly and warm-hearted Kansas folk were from many cultural backgrounds. I hated leaving when the time eventually came. Easterners remarked to me, cynically, "The people of Kansas have to be good because there's nothing else to do!" These folk inspired me more than ever before. I wanted to reach out in friendship to everyone I met, despite the many dusty miles that often lay between us.

"Burger Dinner Joke"
by Ron Meacock © 2021

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