Every Sunday afternoon after church the local icons of the small town of Kanker, Kansas go down to the Corner Café and catch up on the gossip and going-ons for the week.
It is a quaint little café that stands out from the corner of Main and Broadway. The design is nothing special, it can be best described as a rectangular box about the size of two of the local school buses. From the outside the white paint job with the red trim is fading and cracking, long over-due for a painting. Even the sign that sets atop the café, which used to burn brightly with its green neon lights, don't work anymore.
However, that is not the Corner Café's charm. It's charm comes from the fact that when you walk through the old glass and steel doors your eyes fall upon the whole history of Kanker, Kansas. Near every citizen of Kanker can go to one of the hundreds of pictures hanging on the dirty white walls and point out a relative from as far back as 1843 when the town first came into existence. Farmers one and all.
Eight steps after you enter the café you are standing at the luncheon counter that has thirty-four stools; this is where the older men gather to talk about the year's coming crops and the weather. As you look around the café you see twelve booths where the younger generation and families gather to socialize.
Beyond the luncheon counter you find red headed Irene serving coffee and donuts to the older gentlemen, while Irene and Joe's daughter Mable, who just turned sixteen and is a looker, serves the booths. Joe is the cook. You can always see smoke and steam rolling out of Joe's kitchen, but that is just a disguise; it always smells and tastes like a thanksgiving feast. The Corner Café has been in Joe McGee's family for near a half-century now.
Over the years there's not a single thing that has not been talked about here. I would surely like to give you some samples, but I think I'll let them do it themselves. What the hell, it's the same stuff, just a different decade.
Let's listen in to the booth over in the right corner with two of the men that the young call old and the old call kids. The two of them are in their late twenties and have known each other their entire lives. They both have brown hair and brown eyes.
"Well, looks like old wild Jack is finally going to get married." Says Jeff.
"Yeah, my wife Janet said Janice finally got him cornered and told him, 'it's now or never mister'." Replies John.
"It's about time!" Laughs Jeff. "Maybe he'll quit getting thrown in jail every Saturday night."
John thinks about it for a moment, takes a sip of coffee that Mable has just poured for him, and then says, "Besides she sure is a sweet thing. She just spoils my two little ones every time we get together for the annual town picnic."