A good part of the Christian world will always recognize Shrove Tuesday in a religious manner, as it is the day before Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent which is a period of fasting, prayer, and seeking forgiveness. One week before Easter is Palm Sunday which commemorates the day when Jesus Christ rode into Jerusalem on a donkey prior to his crucifixion. Now all of this is well and good and my hat is off to all those who regard that period as sacred. But for most of us, Ash Wednesday is the real beginning of the religious tradition, and Shrove Tuesday is simply the day that is also remembered for being none other than 'PANCAKE DAY.'
I remember Pancake Day, first of all, because it was the day the local 4-H club hosted its annual Pancake Supper. The club rented the Elks Hall and all members were required to show up and help out. But I also remember Pancake Day as the day that the local International Harvester agency hosted its annual 'Customer Appreciation Day.'
The shop was cleaned up and closed for business. Displays of new farm and garden equipment, along with some new trucks were set up, then the huge griddles were brought in, tables and chairs were set up and several rooms were partitioned off and set up for mini theaters where promotional films (and some general entertainment ones) were run for the entire day. For the most part, it was an annual celebration and the locals looked forward to it. It wasn't long before the place was full. Farmers, ranchers, contractors, and many local businessmen sat down to heaping plates of pancakes, sausages, bacon, and eggs and discussed usually things other than the occupations they came from.
My dad was a local rancher and the regional veterinarian. He was good friends with the proprietor of the dealership as well as the people who went in and out through the day. Dad was also a player of practical jokes. On more than one occasion after vaccinating and ear-tagging a herd of cattle an unwary client would venture into his house to discover that his jacket and coveralls had been 'tagged' together. Dad's unbelievable luck with bushing for a bottle of soda pop also had some unlucky guys from the local shops more than willing to get even. Well, this one day some guys at the IH shop decided it was their turn.
Dad lined up with a bunch of friends and acquaintances and was more involved with visiting with the others than paying attention to what the cooks were up to. One--I think it was Vic, the welder--took a couple of napkins, cut them into circles then poured some pancake batter on the grill. He quickly placed one of the circular napkins onto the fresh batter then covered it with more batter to complete the pancake. Three such pancakes were created and kept aside just for Dad.
He held out his plate and was rewarded with 'special' pancakes, bacon, eggs, and sausages and then found himself a place at one of the tables where he quickly engaged in more conversations.
Dad always had a good appetite and he attacked the food with the zeal of some starving refugee from Asia. Between mouthfuls of pancakes and trimmings, he discussed politics, livestock, rotten kids, and more politics. He was completely unaware that the cooks were starting to grow concerned.
They thought that Dad would discover the napkin-laced pancakes then return for a better selection but instead, he consumed everything and was debating coming back for more.
Vic decided that maybe they had overstepped their bounds so he slipped away and called the local doctor. After a hasty explanation, Dr. Goertz decided maybe he'd better talk to Dad himself. The nervous cook came over to Dad who was still talking to the Coffee Row gang and said that there was a phone call for him.
Dad went into Paul's office and picked up the phone. Needless to say, he was rather surprised to hear Dr. Goertz on the other end.
"I understand you've been imbibing some cellulose," Dr. Goertz began.
Dad looked around to see Vic and a couple of the cooks looming in the background then turned back to the phone. "Well," he responded, "the way these guys are acting, I wouldn't be surprised."
The good doctor then told Dad the story. He then reassured Dad that there wouldn't be much going wrong. "Maybe take a good laxative before you go to bed tonight and everything should be just fine."
Dad swung around to glare at the guilty parties who quickly dispersed back to their positions at the griddle and after a good laugh, everything was back to normal.
And it really was a good joke.
However, it would be a good idea to pay attention to what Dad was up to the next time he was in the shop getting some work done. Vic might not notice that Dad had turned the amperage way down on the welder so that the rod would stick as soon as Vic tried to strike an arc. And while he was trying to dial the welder back in there was a chance that the torch got fired up and the handles of his pliers strangely became too hot to handle with bare hands...