For the first time in several years we were able to attend the annual Van Buren Volunteer Fire Department Jonah Fish Fry in Carbon. As is written, the spirit was willing but the flesh has been weak.
This particular event was a first for us after moving to Indiana in 1996. Since coming here I've learned there are many such celebrations going on which I am sure are just as worthy and equally worth attending. In fact, as previously stated, this city boy has always been overwhelmed with the variety, extent, and abundance of good things to do if one has the gumption.
As we sat and enjoyed the "ambiance" of the Fish Fry I was reminded of something I had written and published in The Brazil Times in Sept. 2001, just after 9-11. Thought it worth repeating here:
This weekend our family will be spending a few bucks at Carbon's annual Jonah Fish Fry. Four years ago I'd never heard of such a thing. After I found out what it was it seems there is one of these events within driving distance every week from May through September. Where I grew up there was only one Fish Fry. That was at the local Catholic Church, always on a Friday night during Lent. I don't recall it being an "all you can eat for one price" event, however.
I'm really not sure what the money goes for at the Carbon Fish Fry, and not certain it matters. Every Jonah Fish Fry benefits some worthy cause or endeavor, and there is every reason to think all deserve our support. Not even certain how much is charged. I don't do lines well and leave petty details like forking out money to my wife.
We discovered the Carbon event quite by accident, just happening to be in town on the right day. The main reason we always go back to Carbon is that this is where our two granddaughters live (Note: grandson added since 2001). This gives a built-in excuse to fulfill the sacred duty of all grandparents, spoil grandchildren without actually having to take care of them.
The day itself, at least the ones we've experienced, are well worth the effort to attend at whatever the financial contribution. But, it is the day itself which has so impressed this city born and reared granddaddy.
Last year it was clear and reasonably cool. There was, if I recall correctly, a gospel singing group across the way. Young children were being impressed by the fire engines, the older ones impressed by their own bikes or skateboards. We saw a few folks we knew, and many hundreds we will never know. The goal, of course, is to sit with people you've never met and enjoy the opportunity to make new friends. I talked to "neighbors" who are such merely because we share the same county. Come Election year I guess we'll also be inundated by candidates.
Light clouds floated overhead, people laughed and moved about, the music was far away enough to not overwhelm. The food was quite good; I probably ate more than my share. Our grandbabies had their mother to clean them up.
This is America in her purest form.
David L. Lewis is an observer of and sometimes commentator on life who may be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.