Kalona Cooks: Saying good-bye - sad it is

Posted 8/12/99

The past week was a time of multiple good-byes in The Kalona News office.

Jeanette Schla…

By Mary Marek

The past week was a time of multiple good-byes in The Kalona News …

This item is available in full to subscribers.

Please log in to continue

Log in

Kalona Cooks: Saying good-bye - sad it is


The past week was a time of multiple good-byes in The Kalona News office.

Jeanette Schla…

By Mary Marek

The past week was a time of multiple good-byes in The Kalona News office.

Jeanette Schlabach, our ad compositor, moved to an apartment in Cedar Rapids to be closer to her classes at Kirkwood. While I’m sure the young man who was hired to replace her will do a great job, Jeanette will be missed.

She was always cheerful, even under the pressure of Tuesday morning deadlines, and she is truly talented at creating eye-pleasing ads.

Tuesday was her last day with us. I wish her all the best in the future; I know she’ll go far.

Friday we received a double whammy.

It was Mark Adkins’ last day as Sports Editor for The Kalona News. Mark and his wife Terri and their daughter Callie are moving to Fargo, North Dakota, where Mark will work in sports information and go to graduate school.

Evidently, no one ever told Mark that we have a fine grad school in Iowa City. I don’t know why else he would go all the way to North Dakota, unless he really likes snow.

Mark was much more than the sports guy at The Kalona News. His talents were many and his generosity - of time and spirit - knew no bounds.

He could and would do any task needed - he could type (faster than me and he only used two fingers), design ads, sell ads, write news stories, take pictures, develop film. About the only thing he couldn’t do was write legibly. I kept telling him he should have been a doctor. Only a pharmacist could read his handwriting.

My mom calls my 6’4” son Cody her “gentle giant”. Mark was our “gentle giant”, large of stature and larger still of heart.

I loved teasing Mark. He usually took it well, or pretended to, at least. Perhaps he was only humoring the crazy lady he found himself working with. On occasion he’d speak up, giving as good as he got. On those occasions I’d accuse him of taking assertiveness training.

Poor Mark; sometimes it seemed that the harder he tried, the worse things got.

I’ll never forget the year he and Chad Frey drove through a blizzard to Des Moines for a state basketball tournament. They thought they had left Kalona with plenty of time to get there. Every so often, they’d call back to the office to tell us how far they’d gotten. We listened to the game on the radio in the office, assuming Mark and Chad were in the audience, cheering their team on to victory - or, as it turned out, defeat.

Just as the game was ending, the phone rang. It was Mark. He called to tell us they were just getting to Des Moines. They missed the game.

Mark, go for it. Enjoy your life and show those North Dakotans what us Iowans are made of. I’ll really miss you.

Friday’s other good-bye was even harder than saying “so long” to Mark. We got the word about 11 o’clock Friday morning that Chet Miller had passed away.

I’m sure most of you knew Chet, even if only from having been sold something by him at an auction.

Chet seemed to be everywhere in Kalona and the surrounding area. I don’t know how many times a week I’d see him in town or meet the pickup with the “Chet Pig” license plates on the road.

I don’t think I ever saw Chet when he wasn’t smiling.

He stopped in the office often. If he wasn’t bringing in a sale bill for us to type, he was dropping off his weekly column, “Chet Says”.

Typing his sale bills and columns was always a challenge. His handwriting wasn’t as bad as Mark’s, but his grammar, spelling and punctuation were original, to say the least.

He had a distinctive writing style. After typing one of his columns, I’d find myself thinking in “Chetisms”: “Hard it is…” “We do wonder…” “Much is made…”

But as challenging and distinctive as his writing style may have been, his meaning was simple and clear: Treat each other with respect. Don’t lose sight of what is important in life. Love God and each other, but love God above all others.

As I expanded my horizons with The Kalona News and started doing more things, I’d run into Chet even more often. He tried to sell me things I didn’t need at several auctions in the past couple of years, including a steer just last week at the Johnson County Fair. He’d see me in the crowd, smile, point my way and say something about the “Press” being there and didn’t I need whatever it was he was selling?

Watching Chet and Wilbur Swartzendruber work the crowd at the Pleasantview Sale was a real treat. They’d have the crowd laughing so hard they’d forget how much money they were spending. Which, I suppose, was the whole idea. After all, it was all for a good cause.

And Chet donated his time to many important causes. The event didn’t have to be as big a fund-raiser as the Pleasantview Benefit Sale or the Mennonite Relief Sale to deserve his attention, though. When we needed an auctioneer for the pie-eating contest at Kalona Days, he and Bart Yotty were right there. Of course, I might have been better off if Chet hadn’t been there. Thanks to him, I ended up with a pie in my face.

The first time he came to the office after that incident, he stuck his head around the door, looking for me. When he saw me sitting at my desk, he grinned and asked, “Is it safe for me to come in?” Of course it was. Who could be mad at Chet?

Of course, my contact with Chet wasn’t only through my job. Brylee Miller, one of Chet’s grandsons, played on several sports teams with Cody. Chet and his wife Sarah would be at almost every game. In fact, they probably made it to more games than I did over the years.

I remember sitting near them at a football game. Evidently Chet wasn’t a football fan, because I could hear him asking someone to explain what was happening down on the field. He may not have understood the game, but the fact that his grandson was playing was the only reason he needed for being there.

Some of my earliest memories involve Chet. Or, his voice, at least. It didn’t happen often, but occasionally Dad would take us kids to the Sales Barn with him. We’d stand up top, behind the seats. I wasn’t tall enough to see over the railing to what was happening down in the sale ring, but I could hear Chet selling hogs or cattle or whatever was being sold that day. I was always amazed at his auctioneer’s song. I still am.


I want to extend my condolences to Chet’s family. My thoughts and prayers are with you.

Sad it is.

This week’s recipes

This week I’m passing on the winning recipes from the Johnson County Fair Brownie Baking Contest, age 18 and younger.

Hershey’s Heaven

Cole Grunzweig

3rd place, Under 18

1 Large Box of Betty Crocker Supreme Brownie Mix

2 eggs for fudge like

1/2 cup oil

1/3 cup water

and Hershey’s Syrup, place some on top

Size of pan, 13 x 9, lightly buttered. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 min.

Milk Chocolate Malt Brownies

Jenni Brumwell

2nd place, Under 18

1 package (11.5) Hershey’s Milk Chocolate Chips

1/2 cup of margarine or butter

3/4 cup sugar

1 teaspoon of vanilla

3 eggs

1 3/4 cups all purpose flour

1/2 cup of instant malted milk

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup malted milk balls, coarsly chopped

Heat oven to 350. Grease a rectangular pan 13x9x2 inches. Heat milk chocolate and margarine in a 3 quart saucepan over low heat, stirring frequently, until melted; remove from heat, cool slightly, beat in sugar, vanilla, and eggs. Stir in remaining ingredients except malted milk balls. Spread butter in pan. Sprinkle with malted milk balls. Bake 30-35 min. or until tooth pick comes out clean, cool completely.

Raspberry Filled White Chocolate Bars

Gayle Donohue

1st Place, Under 18

1/2 cup margarine

1 12oz. pkg white chocolate chips

2 eggs

1/2 cup sugar

1 cup flour

1/2 tsp. salt

1 tsp. almond extract

1/2 cup raspberry jam

1/4 cup sliced almonds

Heat oven to 325, grease and flour 9” square baking dish. Melt margarine in small saucepan over low heat. Remove from heat, add 1 cup of the white chocolate chips, let stand - do not stir.

In a large bowl beat eggs until foamy. Gradually add sugar, beating at high speed until lemon colored. Stir in milk chocolate chips mixture. Add flour, salt, and almond flavoring; mix at low speed until just combined. Spread half (1 cup) of batter in greased and floured pan. Bake at 325 for 15 to 20 min or until light golden brown. Stir remaining 1 cup milk chocolate chips into remaining half of batter; set aside. Melt spreadable fruit jam in small saucepan over low heat. Spread evenly over warm, partially baked crust. Gently spoon remaining half of batter over fruit spread. Sprinkle with almonds. Return to oven; bake an additional 25-30 minutes or until toothpick, when inserted into the center, comes out clean. Cool completely, cut into bars.