Friday, December 09, 2011


Most people have never heard of Marne, Iowa, much less been there. Marne is a community located off of interstate 80 with a population of 149 people. I have been there twice. The first time was by accident.

A few years ago Char and I were in Illinois for a visit and to take a road trip with our future daughter in law, Desiree. Char and Desiree were in the back of the van watching a movie on the DVD player. I was driving along I-80 when I noticed the ‘low fuel’ light came on. No worries I’ll get off at the next exit and get gas. The next exit came and no gas stations were in sight so I continued driving. Another exit appeared but no gas stations so I stayed on the highway.

I was getting a little uncomfortable when I looked down and noticed the low fuel warning light was not only on but now it was flashing. I got off at the next exit and there was nothing except a sign which read, “Marne 3”. No worries, we’ll just drive into Marne and fill up.

Arriving at Marne the first thing I noticed was there were no gas stations! I parked my van in this spot because I noticed two women talking. Getting out of the van I asked where the nearest gas station was. One of the ladies told me it was about seven miles down the road. I thanked them and headed back to the van.

That’s when the woman said, “Do you have enough gas to get there?”

I turned and answered as honestly as I could, “I don’t know.”

She looked at me for a minute and told me she would be right back. A few minutes later she showed up with a five gallon container of gas and a nozzle. I dumped half the gas into the tank, sealed the container and started to take out my wallet. She just waved her hand side to side, while saying, “No you don’t owe me anything.” Back then gas was over four dollars a gallon and I told her I would really like to pay for it.

She looked at me and said, “No that’s not how we do things around here. Not too long ago a young college girl was traveling through with her cat and she almost ran out of gas. She wanted to pay me as well but I told her ‘Honey you don’t owe me anything. That’s not how we do things here.’ I told her just give me a hug and we would call it even.”

I looked at the lady and replied, “Well, I’ll give you a hug.”

She smiled and said, “No. No I’m all hot and sweaty.”

Now don’t read a lot into this because I was under a lot of distress from almost running out of gas but I relied, “I like hot and sweaty.” And with that I reached over and gave her a hug. To her credit she hugged me back while giving me a few pats on the back for good measure.

Then the lady and I stood there talking for a minute while unbeknownst to me Char was coaching Desiree inside the van. “Now when he gets in the van DON’T say anything. DON’T laugh. He’ll just get mad.” I’m sure we all know that’s not true and Char was giving her future daughter in law some bad advice.

Getting into the van, I headed down highway 83 to the nearest gas station located in Walnut when I noticed the movie had stopped and there was silence in the van. I looked in the rear view mirror and asked a simple question, “How you doing Desiree?” She burst into laughter.

Somewhere along highway 83 she caught her breath long enough to say, “I can’t believe you said ‘I like hot and sweaty!’” More laughter ensued not only by Desiree but by Char as well.

I got to the first gas station I could find in Walnut and asked if they needed anything. They were both laughing so hard I just assumed the answer was no.

I filled up with gas, bought a bottle of water then got back into the van where they were both still laughing. Getting onto I-80 they were both still laughing. Fifteen miles down the road they were both still laughing. Finally, I said, “Okay that’s enough.” My words are powerful so they got themselves under control within the next thirty miles.

Yet, every few miles either Desiree or Char would just burst out in uncontrollable laughter. It was a long trip.

So what about my second trip to Marne? Char and I drove through there on a recent road trip. I took some pictures but more importantly I left thinking how we could use more towns, and more people like those in Marne, Iowa.


Blogger Granny Annie said...

This is the funniest thing I have ever heard. I kept laughing while reading and I'm still laughing and I can just about guarantee that I'll be laughing the rest of this day!!!!

1:11 PM  
Blogger Cliff said...

I remember when you pulled in here to the farm that day. You weren't laughing. The girls were. This farm is a long ways from Marne.

8:36 PM  
Blogger Mountain Mama said...

I understand how it is when we are flusterd. I've said some pretty off the wall things myself. I also understand the hysteria. :)

12:46 PM  
Blogger possum said...

As for the funny part, what a good laugh! And if you like hot and sweaty, come visit us on the shore in the summertime!
As for the gas, I too, have given folks gas when they ran out on their way into town... they look at me like I am nuts when I refuse any $$.
Then, for some motherly advice, start to look for a gas station as soon as you get close to half empty. Seriously. Unless you are really into hot and sweaty from strangers.

1:57 PM  
Blogger Lanny said...

As soon as I stop laughing, I'll agree that we do need more small towns like that.

7:40 AM  
Blogger Live Well, Laugh Often and Love Much said...

Thanks Ralph, I read this post three days ago and it brought me right back to so many (good) memories!

OK this is Desiree posting her comment; I have to add some things to this story. If I could ever stop laughing long enough to type something.

When I was sitting in the van with Char, sure she was coaching me, we would laugh together (even cry together) and then she would say “Desiree we can NOT laugh when he gets in the van in the teacher voice of hers”. Then we would laugh some more. Yeah right! For those who know me, that is like trying to take candy from a baby! I kept telling myself; Desiree if you want to be welcomed into this family you better shut your mouth.

You all would have been so proud of me. As soon as that door opened and Ralph jumped in I was slight….Yep slight! That just does not happen with me. It felt like a life time but finaly Ralph looked in the rear view mirror and asked that simple question, “How you doing Desiree?” I did burst into a very loud laughter! It did take me sometime to catch my breath long enough to say, “I can’t believe you said ‘I like hot and sweaty!’” Who says that? (Now I know MY FIL does)!

As far as Walnut goes, yeah we made it there. Thank God. What Ralph forgot to tell you all is that about one mile further on interstate 80 was Walnut. Oh well....

With that being said, I would not trade my Marne visit in for the world.

I am very blessed that I have had this and many more of these types of encounters with my in-laws!

I love them so !

7:07 PM  

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