Saturday, June 16, 2007

A day of contrasts

Today I went to Osceola around noon time to get some plastic tarps at the Farm & Home and possibly a new ink cartridge for my printer at the computer store. Got to the computer store too late, but did pick up the tarps. I decided instead of going to McDonalds for my lunch, I'd pay the Chinese restaurant on the square a return visit.

As I entered, I noticed a large group of youths had just come in before me. It occurred to me that they were a group of Mennonites, as the girls were wearing long dresses and bonnets or head scarves, and the boys were wearing polo shirts and jeans. If they were Old Order Amish, the girls would have appeared about the same, but the boys would have been dressed in black.

Anyway, they sat together at a group of tables put next to each other, then after receiving their drinks, went up in small groups to the buffet line. They came back to the table, waiting for all to return, then bowed their heads and prayed silently.

During the meal, I picked up little bits of their conversations. The boys talked about cars or tractors, and girls smiled and giggled quietly. None of them were overly boisterous, but kept their tone to a respectable level. There was even a period when all were eating and no one was speaking - a table of teenagers being quiet!?!?

The girls were attractive in their plainness - they had no need for makeup, jewelry, and revealing clothes to impart that they were females. The boys were slim, muscular (probably from working on the farm and not playing XBox), and didn't need baggy jeans and wife-beater shirts to show they were male, either. These kids were respectful and kind to each other. There were no cell phones interrupting their quiet conversations, no rude interjections, just simple talk and enjoyment between seemingly mature and considerate people.

To say the least, I was impressed. I now regret not going to them and commending them for their behavior. They didn't need to show off who they were, but yet, they were not ashamed of their backgrounds. They were polite, considerate, and not overtly sexual in nature (unlike some youth their age). I don't know what the occasion was for the outing, and where they came from; There is a group of Mennonites near Leon, but my guess is that the occasion was a planned event between two or more communities to introduce themselves to each other.

On the other hand, I had an interesting experience this afternoon. The wife decided we were going to get Casey's pizza, since we had 10 box receipts that entitled us to a free pizza. She placed the order, and after doing some work at the office, I went to Casey's to pick it up. Then I realized I had forgotten something - the big motorcycle ride.

Every year for the last six there has been a motorcycle ride, called the John Dale Clark Memorial Ride, that starts in Chariton and ends up at the Humeston Lake. It has apparently gained in favor, as there were many more bikes parked at Casey's and zooming past on their way to the lake. They even had t-shirts this year. I had to stand in line for about 10 minutes while the cashier processed six packs of beer, beef jerky, and bottles of soda.

Now, I don't have a problem with bikers - you do your thing, I'll do mine. You go there, I'll stay here, and we won't have any issues. And they were riding in memory of a friend that died of cancer.

But here's the contrast - A group of Mennonite teenagers, at the prime of being potentially rebellious and sexual youth, but acting constrained, polite, and considerate
vs
Middle aged parents wearing bandanas, skimpy clothes, drinking beer, and riding loud motorcycles that cost tens of thousands of dollars.

Hmm. That is a contrast. All here in The South of Iowa on a single day.

Not to mention the Chariton Classic bicycle ride that passed through town earlier in the day. Jackie rode in it for her preparation for RAGBRAI. But that's a different story, one that I'll have her guest-blog about sometime.

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