Wells Drug February
Petersburg Press

‘Petersburg University’ continues to grow over 20-year span

COFFEE GROUP—Hank Thieman, Larry Petsche, Steve Lodge, Ron Coakes, George Majerus, Russ Stokes, Con Arends, Bob Foss, John Larson, Gary Seier, and Ken Schmitz are all part of the Petersburg University.

Every town has their special gathering of friends. One is the morning coffee group.
Every day six times a week beginning at 6 a.m. and with later arrivals until 8 a.m., members of the Petersburg University, Institute of Higher Learning, or as some members say, “They come from the school of hard knocks,” meet.
On any given morning, 10 to 18 guys, of all ages, assemble in the Petersburg Legion Club. Each is sitting in their assigned chair around a large round table. Any newcomer, who is always welcome, is immediately notified of the seating arrangements.
According to Larry Petsche who serves as head coffee brewer when Hank Thieman is basking in the Southern sunshine stated, “It’s not what we don’t know that gets us in trouble, it’s what we think we know-that we don’t know.”
Twenty years ago, several guys would meet in Stuhr’s Quick Stop before most peoples’ day had begun for a cup of coffee.
The group steadily grew and for years met in Knotty Pine before moving into the Legion.
Some are assigned positions.
Steve Lodge can be counted on for market reports which he says is dismal right now.
Of course, there’s the political situation, and there is always exaggerated reminiscing.
One rule is that no one should pull out their phone.
Saturdays are special because that’s doughnut day.
Members provide their own coffee. They only drink Yuban.
Kenny Schmitz can usually be counted on for some unique euphemisms, many from his parents.
The group sends cards to special people and members if they are hospitalized, etc.
One memorable occasion was a faux funeral to honor Kenny Kerkman which included an early morning trip to the cemetery and it included an eulogy. All attending concluded that it was a mighty fine birthday celebration.
Larry Petsche serves as treasurer and secretary. Everyone donates a container of coffee and a donation to the Legion is made.
The guys feel having a few laughs is a good way to start a day.
Larry Henn, who passed away in 2018, is the only member to die during the 20 years. He was for many years the coffee maker.
Members gather during most holidays except the traditionally important days. They meet even if the roads are ice covered.
One Thursday morning, Hank Thieman revealed how his parents’ house burned down in January of 1948. His father, who was burned quite severely, had to wait for the National Guard to come with a half track to take him to Albion where he received care for an extended time.
During the 1948-49 blizzard, Ray Hall, a rancher west of Petersburg, had a plane and would drop food such as flour sugar, and other necessities from the air to farmers.
Kenny Schmitz summed it up, “It’s a pretty good group, but there is bound to be some occasional tail biting.”