In Our Community
The Damon Runyon Theater was a good series, syndicated by Alan Ladd’s Mayfair Productions, premiering on the west coast in January 1949, and later in the east. It brought to life the people of Damon Runyon’s New York.
The stories were told through the eyes of a hood with a heart of gold. His name; Broadway his accent: Brooklyn, and you could cut it with a knife. Unlike some dialect humor, Broadway’s stories had warmth and appeal. John Brown did a fine job as lead, using a present-tense narration that moved the action well.
Brown, a solid radio actor with a diverse background in comedy, had previously done Thorny Thornberry on Ozzie and Harriet, Al in My Friend Irma, and Digger O’Dell on The Life of Riley. Assisting Brown were Alan Reed, Frank Lovejoy, Eddie Marr, Luis van Rooten, Joe Du Val, Gerald Mohr, and William Conrad. Runyon’s hoods weren’t real, but they were interesting and funny. The shows were directed by Richard Sanville and written by Russell Hughes. The characters of Damon Runyon were eventually brought to Broadway and the screen in an award winning story entitled Guys and Dolls.
In 1964, the Dubuque Civic Theater produced Guys and Dolls at Dubuque Senior High School for the first time in Dubuque. I was fortunate to play the part of Sky Masterson. If you listen to AM 1370 KDTH’s Big Broadcast Sunday nights from to 6 to midnight, you might just hear Broadway coming to life.
The Unknown Future
My wife Diann gave me the idea for the following reflection concerning the pandemic of the coronavirus and how it’s changed how we view the future. I want to give her credit because I’m “staying home” with her, “sheltering-in-place” with her or however you want to put it, and so I DO NOT WANT her to be angry with me!
She was sharing with me how we’ve always known we can’t predict the future and that our plans are always subject to change, but that we’ve never known that to be as true as we do now! So many of our plans, most of our plans, have been dramatically changed because of the pandemic in a way that’s never happened before.
Before the pandemic we gave mental assent and lip service to the fact that the future is unpredictable, but we hadn’t grasped that truth in a heartfelt way as we have in this pandemic of the coronavirus. We planned graduations, weddings, vacations, sports events, and other major life events not giving much thought that we might not be carrying through on those plans.
My mother would often conclude a reference to what she was planning with the phrase “the Lord willing.” Being my mother’s son I have often done the same. From here on out, when I use the phrase, I’m going to be putting more meaning into it!
This new respect for the future’s unpredictable nature puts us in a better position to relate to God in a more appropriate way! God is the one who is ultimately in charge of the future, not us. God is the one who knows the future before it happens, not us. “The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.” Proverbs 16:9
When we insist that we can manage our future from the present, that we’re in control, we deny God’s sovereign rule. One of the keys to having a healthy, maturing, and deepening relationship with God is to recognize His right to have ultimate control over our life. That not only means yielding to His will and leadership in the present but yielding the future to Him as well! We shouldn’t look for God to bless our plans for the future but look to being blessed by God’s plans for us in the future!
Does this means we give up making plans? Of course not. God’s designed us to be able to think ahead, to plan. It’s just that it’s all subject to His approval!
As we reflect on all the plans that have not turned out the way we planned, we can turn it into a positive. It can deepen our resolve to be ever ready to yield to God’s ways when they are not the same as our ways, to be open to His will always. I don’t know about you, but that wasn’t something I planned on learning at this particular time!
“Now listen, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.’ Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, ‘If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.’” James 4:13-15
Planning in the Midst of a Pandemic
Iowans’ know that Iowa is a farming community. We love the farmers. They give us wholesome home-grown foods. Therefore, I am sharing a wonderful picnic experience I had with family and friends.
The picnic was held at the family owned and family farmed Cinnamon Ridge Farms, located in Donahue, Iowa. This event was hosted by John and Joan Maxwell. They are fifth generation members of this terrific family run business.
This farm is a robotic dairy farm. They give tours whereby you can watch robots milking prize winning Jersey cows. And since they also make cheese, you can watch this being done by an expert family cheese maker. Actually, you can visit their store located at the end of their driveway and purchase some of their products that are made in their own kitchens. They also have other outlets in the area that sell their products like, beef, pork and eggs, all of high quality. And their baked goods are out of this world!
The highlight of my day was taking the hayrack ride through the cow barn. There were cows of all ages, from the very young to the adult Jersey. The stalls were clean and odor-free.
As we continued on our hayrack ride, I saw the tall stalks of Iowa corn reaching for the sky. And I saw the soybean plants. I think that’s what they were, but then I’m a city girl.
Since this was a family picnic atmosphere, there was an inflatable Bounce House activity for young children to enjoy. But, I noticed that children of all ages were fascinated by the robotic milking of the Jersey cows. Actually, some of the children had already visited the farm via a student tour activity.
Well, it wouldn’t be much of a picnic if I didn’t describe the food offered to the crowd. The foods were served buffet style. It started out with the paper service items, then a relish tray with several vegetables placed around a bowl of creamy dip. Next was a bin of fresh sweet corn with butter available. Following was a huge container of potato salad. Yes, then the hamburger meat, and a selection of hotdogs were offered with a choice of buns. Naturally, condiments were available. And last, but not least, was a big box of assorted cookies. There were several coolers with beverages floating in ice, ready to be plucked out and consumed.
The best part of the day was seeing so many people enjoying a day on a farm run by the family members of Cinnamon Ridge Farms. Families are the heartbeat of the community. God bless the farmers of America.