Rain or shine, farmers shoot the breeze at McBaine diner

Monday, September 28, 2009 | 4:19 p.m. CDT; updated 8:33 p.m. CDT, Friday, October 9, 2009
In the tiny town of McBaine — the 2000 Census recorded 17 residents — farmers begin their day with coffee and cards at Lucy's.

McBAINE — Whether the sun rises into a clear sky or the day starts with rain or snow, a small group of farmers in McBaine begins its day by driving to the local diner, Lucy’s Burgers and Beverages, to have breakfast or a few cups of coffee and to catch up with friends and neighbors. Marvin Sapp, a corn, soybean and wheat farmer and mayor of McBaine, describes his mornings, which start around 6:30, as a sort of routine. “Get up and have breakfast and come down, see what’s happening in McBaine and go from there," he said. "Whatever comes up.” 

Jackie Olk, a server, cook and cashier at Lucy’s, said her regulars come into the diner when it opens at 7:00 a.m.

Mornings at Lucy’s are filled with personal stories and discussions about farming issues and equipment, punctuated by raucous laughter, affable verbal back-and-forth, the quiet sounds of cigarette lighters and the sharp snaps of pairs of hands shuffling worn decks of playing cards. When work on their farms or at their shops is not so pressing, the cards come out for games of Four Point Pitch.  Last week when the weather offered more rain than shine, the men gathering at Lucy’s talked about their crops, such as the soybeans that are close to being harvested. While dealing out the cards and engaging in friendly competition, they observed that they would not be able to do anything with the crops until their fields were dry.

On Wednesday the rainy weather and wet crops led Robert Grant, Bill Sontag, Robert Sapp (Marvin’s brother) and Mac Cook to play Pitch for more than an hour before dispersing from Lucy’s at around a quarter after 9 a.m. Friday’s sunshine gave cause for some optimism about fields drying, but the rain had already affected the timeline for harvesting crops for people like Marvin Sapp, especially since his soybeans are approaching harvesting time. “They’ll be ready in ten days, see, and hopefully we get the corn picked in ten days but probably not," he said.  "You know, it depends on the rain; everything depends on the weather."

But even if the rest of their days are spent in the fields, for the farmers of McBaine, the mornings begin at Lucy's.

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