A Good Woman


February 18, 1993|By ELIZABETH SCHUETT

GIBSONBURG, OHIO — Gibsonburg, Ohio.--Morning coffee conversation at the cafe has taken a strange turn. Some liberal-sounding mutterings from my retired farmer friends are beginning to surface.

Make no mistake, this is still seriously conservative Republican country. Buck, a retired school custodian, sips his morning tea and shares his ideas on the attorney general nominee with Brownie, an 84-year-old retired farmer.

''Well,'' Buck says, ''she looks good and sturdy. Maybe she can go the distance.''

In this small farm community, settled by a hardy, no-frills breed of Germans where men and women alike had to be tough to survive, to be described as sturdy is a compliment.

''If she lasted in Dade County this long, she'll survive Washington.''

Brownie says he often reads about Miami and all the drugs and crime. ''That's gotta be a tough place for a lady living alone,'' he adds.

But the fact that Janet Reno has never married causes some reflection. Buck says it was because she was busy with her career, but that's OK: ''She made something of herself anyway -- even without a husband.''

That comment leaves me wondering how far he thinks she could have gone with a good man by her side.

Brownie says he likes her because she's almost as tall as he is. ''I wonder if she likes to dance,'' he muses. For the last few weeks Brownie's mind has been on dancing. He lost his wife last August and he's pretty lonesome. Or was, until two nice young ladies took him out to Ole Zim's Barn for some dancing a couple of Saturday nights ago.

''She can probably dance,'' Buck throws in, ''But she's gonna want to lead, I'll bet.''

Norman, on his way out to buy his wife Rosie a valentine, couldn't resist tossing out an opinion. ''You can't tell me that the top three qualifiers for attorney general were women, but I don't care. I like her. She'll probably do a hell of a job because she'll be able to concentrate on her work.''

Wilbur, who was not going to buy a valentine for Helen, his wife of 40 years, because ''I don't want to spoil her,'' wondered who was going to take care of Ms. Reno's homeplace while she was in Washington. ''Everything grows so danged fast down there that by the time she gets back it will be overgrowed so bad she'll never find it.''

Norman was on a roll. ''And you know what else? I don't mind having Hillary working for the country either. It's free and women don't like to do that Garden Club stuff any more.'' He thinks it's a good deal and reminds everyone, ''She did graduate ahead of Bill in law school.''

It's 10 o'clock and the group is beginning to break up. Most have errands to run in town before they go home for lunch. Brownie is in no hurry though because his house is empty. Some of the widow ladies in town do invite him to supper. There aren't many single men here and Brownie is a real catch.

The issue of a good woman for the job has apparently been settled. Brownie and Buck, Wilbur and Norman, they all appreciate what one can do.

Elizabeth Schuett is a writer and teacher.

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