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Coffee and conversation

Seniors gather at Cub Foods every Tuesday for coffee and conversation.

There aren't a lot of topics that are off limits when Rosemount-area seniors gather for coffee Tuesday mornings at Cub Foods. They try to avoid politics and religion, subjects that are likely to start an argument. But pretty much everything else is fair game.

"We're trying to solve the world's problems," said MaryAnn Grabem, who is at Cub most Tuesdays to start her day with coffee, donuts and conversation.

On Tuesday this week the list of topics didn't necessarily include solutions to the world's most pressing issues. At Grabem's table they talked about dermatology, organs and medical issues. Elsewhere, there was talk of football and of North Dakota, where several of the men who had gathered grew up.

"You know what's happening in North Dakota? Nothing," joked one of the men who clearly did not hail from Minnesota's western neighbor.

For the seniors who are regulars at the event the weekly coffee gatherings are a chance to meet up with friends. The free coffee and donuts are nice, but it's the conversation that keeps people coming back.

"It's kind of nice to get together and chit-chat," said Ann Marie Phillips, another regular.

Many of the seniors do some grocery shopping once they're done talking, though sometimes the conversation goes on for more than an hour. Cub employees bring out fresh trays of donuts from time to time and stop by the tables to offer them to the people there.

Harold Brandel is a regular at the gatherings, but he says he's still a bit of an outsider. He moved to Minnesota from New York 34 years ago, starting in Minneapolis and gradually moving farther out into the suburbs until he landed in Rosemount. One of the men at his table joked that you have to attend the gatherings for at least two years before you get to contribute to the conversation.

"I talked too much at first," Brandel said. "I learned how to be silent."

Not all of the people who gather regularly are Rosemount residents. This week there were visitors from Inver Grove Heights, Apple Valley and Farmington. There was a wide range of ages, too. Some of the older members were principals here when the youngest members went through school.

Somehow, though, they all find something to talk about.

"It's such a diverse crowd, it makes it very interesting," Brandel said. "We have farmers. We have airline pilots. We have a former principal of Rosemount.... We're all a wonderful bunch of guys."