By Herb Meeker
News Report Staff
They didn’t enter laughing, but soon the Kountry Kitchen was filled with their laughter.
Each Tuesday, about a dozen ladies from Teutopolis sit around a large round table and between nibbles on breakfast and sips of coffee they truly enjoy themselves at the popular local restaurant.
Over the years, they gained the name “Laughing Ladies.”
“We’re just here to have a good time,” said Rosie Brumleve after the group had sat down after 8 a.m. Mass last Tuesday at nearby St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church in Teutopolis.
“Someone gave that name to us,” said Bernice Broom. “It’s better than being called the ‘Crabby Ladies’ or a grouchy German, what they call a Sauerkraut. You gotta have fun.”
At times, the women explod in laughter in unison proving the name of their group is right on target. Their gatherings have covered decades because the Laughing Ladies range in age from 70 to 90.
Some of them believe the menfolk in the Kountry Kitchen coined their cheerful title. Of course, the men gather in their groups soon after the Kountry Kitchen opens before morning Mass and some check out at the cash register when the gals come in. It is almost like a gender shift change or possibly acknowledgement that their male conversation will be repeatedly interrupted by bursts of laughter.
“Usually when we come in most of the men leave,” said Betty Buenker.
Some of the ladies noted that having a male news reporter at their table was bridging the gender gap, possibly for the first time ever. Even the spouses of the Laughing Ladies sit away from their table Tuesdays.
There is a devout element to their gatherings. They attend the St. Anthony devotion each Tuesday at St. Francis. It’s a tradition their mothers followed before them at the older version of the Kountry Kitchen, a red brick building constructed during the Civil War that was demolished about 15 years ago.
The group used to push tables together there to get everyone together. The ladies switched to the latest version of the restaurant and love it for different reasons, including the heavenly sweet rolls.
Like their mothers, the Laughing Ladies attend Mass, offer their devotional prayers and then head to the morning meal for fellowship.
Yet, their Tuesday mornings go from Godly to “Oh Gawd!” because when these ladies get together there is no subject for discussion that is out of bounds. But their table is not “Gossip Ground Zero” of Teutopolis or a female version of a good old boys’ “Liars’ Table,” popular at restaurants and diners across America.
“No, this is not a liars’ table. We don’t lie,” Myrna Haskenherm said with a wink.
They are usually catching up on family events, sick friends or whatever is going on, some of the ladies explained. Sports is a big subject, which is not surprising for Teutopolis residents. They admitted to being a little burnt out on politics for now. But next year, they might be talking with gusto about the next election cycle.
They also play cards later in the day at the restaurant, but not Stud Poker or Blackjack. After all, they are ladies and from Teutopolis.
Pitch and Pinochle are their main card games. So no law officers are going to raid their card games. And God help them if they do.
Recently, the Laughing Ladies were under observation by local volunteer, historian and poet, Patti Winn. She was entertained by the group as she attended the restaurant. Then she produced a poem to honor the golden moments that take place where the ladies were gathered.
Here is part of the tribute she made to the Laughing Ladies. The full poem can be read, if you ask one of the Kountry Kitchen staff to retrieve the copy.
The song that lingers long after they’re gone
Is the ringing of laughter – pure and strong
To others who are gathered there. . .
Wonderful laughter is as a gift of prayer
Does this make the Laughing Ladies an institution now in Teutopolis? No, they are not letting their poetic honor go to their heads.
“The poem is very flattering,” Broom said in appreciation of Winn’s work.
But these gals could get some customized T-shirts made to let visitors to Teutopolis know what all the laughter is about at that big round table each Tuesday morning.