Small Town Dinner Date

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It’s Saturday morning about 9 a.m. The temperature is setting records at 20 something below, and I can hardly see out the kitchen window because of the drifted snow from our 36″ that has fallen since Christmas Eve. But I’m smiling a big smile!

Last night Husband took me on a date! Dinner and a movie! And I can’t think of a better evening out, even though “Cabin Fever” may have something to do with it. The weather has had a frozen hold on Northeast Nebraska all week. The mail didn’t even get to town for three days. I’ve been making yummy soup and homemade bread and rolls (see recipe below), and the power has been on, and the TV working for football games. What more could we want?

Dinner and a Movie! Would there be a move tonight? Husband called Marlene. We know her from Car Club, and she directs the choir at “the other” Lutheran church, teaches school, and volunteers at the Community Theater/Movie House. She said, “Yes, there will be a movie, and because we expect a small crowd tonight, we have permission to add a showing on Monday to make up for it.”

I suppose I should back up and explain about our Community Theater/Movie House. This progressive town of 3,500 built a five-million dollar community center about 1½ years ago. It is a great state-of-the-art Conference Center that is well planned and very flexible for use for dances, receptions, graduations, business meetings and even car shows. At the time it was dedicated, the town planned to raze the “old opera house/community building” that sits on Main Street. The Community Theater Group (3 shows a year) proposed keeping the building and using it as their home, so they would not have to share stage time and space with things booked at the new Conference Center. So they mustered support and money and volunteers and were able to keep the building.

At some point in the process the idea of showing movies each weekend came to be. Too many volunteers to count came together to make the building safe and clean, and install the lighting and projection equipment needed. A theater that had closed donated 250 theater seats, “if somebody would pick them up.” The slope is not quite right on the seats, but they are comfy and you have that reclining seat effect. Using all volunteer help, movies that are about 1 month since release and rated G or PG are shown four times each weekend. The prices are $3 for kids and $5 for adults. The Kids Pack of popcorn, candy bar, and pop is $3. What a bargain! This great community wanted a place for kids and families to go and have fun, and they pulled together and made it work.

Now, about our $15 date: First we went to McDonald’s and had sandwiches from the dollar menu and senior cokes. Then we went to the theater to join the expected small crowd. Oh my goodness! There were already 250 people inside, and more standing in line. Marlene came by, and went in to show the volunteers where to find the folding chairs downstairs. Everybody pitched in and carried chairs, and 351 paying guests saw the movie, “Blind Side.” We got to sit in the balcony on a folding chair because, as our friend Jo, said, as she took our money, “We know you won’t neck” – now how did she know that?

As we came out of the theater to -21 degrees and blowing snow, I just looked at Husband and said, “Isn’t this a great place to retire?”

Rich Bread Machine Roll Dough

¼ cup soft butter or oleo
4 cups bread flour
¼ cup dry instant vanilla pudding
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon yeast

Mixed together: 1 slightly beaten egg, 1 cup warm (70-80 degrees) milk and ¼ cup warm water.

Place in bread machine in order your machine instructs and set on dough cycle. Remove from machine, shape into 12 balls and put in 9-by-13-inch greased pan. Let rise until double. Bake 20 to 25 minutes at 350, or until nicely browned. These are so good and rich, you don’t even need butter on them. They make a great cinnamon roll, too.

Nancy and Husband are learning to retire in a small town in Northeast Nebraska. They have lived in 6 large and small communities in 3 states, and worked in middle management in Senior Retirement and Nursing Homes, Banking, and large Feed Corporations. They raised 3 terrific children and have 3 wonderful grandsons.