A love story we really hope everyone will understand

Once upon a time in Fairbury, IL, there was a young Christian farmer named Keith. Meanwhile, in Peoria, IL, there was a young Christian nurse who grew up on a farm in Remington, IN, named Christine. Now, this is a love story which we hope you will understand, even if you don’t quite get the humor.

What humor?

On March 7, 1965, 3,500 Marines were sent to a Vietnam air base, GI’s were in Vietnam again and they were complaining about shoddy weapons (well, what did you guys want anyway? Massive support?).

In Alabama, Gov. Wallace barred a march by (what we called African-Americans in those days and it was before Gov. Wallace could let them get away with marching, so). An alleged Nazi war criminal’s body was found (too much South American food: Bratwurst, sauerkraut, neck bones, etc.) and Keith Steidinger was born near Fehrbury, er, Fairbuty, IL.

On Aug. 28, 1966, the U.S. tried trough a third nation for peace talks. Hurricane Faith hit the U.S. (I thought she didn’t hit the U.S until 1972), actually Faith hit a space tracking station.

Before 1972?

On Aug. 28, 1966, the same day that Hubert Humphrey’s son wed a small-town beauty (probably one of the windiest toasts in the history of Minnesota), Christine Bahler was born in Remington, IN.

I didn’t know she shared a birthday with Princess Di.

No, Christine shares a birthday with Margaret Triplett.

Same difference.

To those of you who don’t know, Margaret was a member of the Peoria Young Group who is a bit of a preppie. She’s sort of a high-class dresser. We don’t call her Di to her face since that might embarrass her. Now, do you have that, Christine?

Why wouldn’t Christine get that?

Well, she wasn’t in the Young Group when Margaret was and besides, Christine is a little bit well,

She doesn’t always get people’s jokes?


Is there truth to the rumor that when Christine was a little girl and her friends told knock-knock jokes, that Christine would get up and answer the front door?

No, the side door, where you would come in from the farm.

Tell be about the time when Christine ran across the road trying to catch he chickens.


Well, someone told her that the chickens crossed the road to get to the other side. Or maybe it was the other slide.

The other slide?

This chicken was crazy about playgrounds!

You’re getting Christine’s roommates confused.

What again?

So tell me about Keith.

He grew up in Fairbury, and a few years ago one night, some girls were staying over at his sister’s house and was on them was Christine Bahler. It left quite an impression on the both of them, which we will find out later.

Even though when Keith told the joke about all the people moving to Bloomington, she thought it was to go to Purdue.

Indiana University is in Bloomington, Purdue’s in West Lafayette.

Then why did Christine try to find Normal on an Indiana road map?

I take it from this Christine has a hard time getting jokes?

She’s the only sister I know who when asked about a disease at work says, “I don’t get it.”

Keith grew up in Fairbury, right? On a farm, right?

I don’t know, ask him.

Actually, Keith’s dad is in the excavation business. How about that?

I can dig it.

So can Keith’s dad.

Keith’s family goes to church in Forrest.

Is the Forrest they go to church in surrounded by trees?

No, a cornfield.

A cornfield?

Yeah. You’ve heard of East-Central Illinois. Livingston County. THE Corn Belt.

That’s Corn Belt (I misspelled corn in the original).

I always wondered where you got your material.

Could we move on to more serious matters?

By all means. As Keith and Christine grew, they both became aware of their need for a change in their lives. As they grew older, Keith and Christine both knew that they were accountable for their sins and had to get right with God. Keith repented in 1983 and was baptized. Christine was taken up in 1984.

Christine also moved in with two other sisters. There was Cathy Huthman.

Huh? Did somebody say my name?

The other sister who moved in with Christine was Shellie Massner.

Oh yeah, Shellie Ray.

They all lived together in little Generic home.

No they had the padded cell. John Brewer and Dean Hoerr the Generic house.

Why do you call Christine, Shelle and Cathy’s apartment a padded cell? There is warmth there, there is charity, a sincere feeling of Sisters who love the Lord.

Who’s their landlord?

Willis Hunzieker.

Were they Willie’s?

Tenants? Yes, they were Willie’s tenants. Now I don’t know if Willie came up to them and said ‘now girls, would you please go in and pay the rent.”

Did you ever visit Christine and the other sisters at their apartment?


You know Willie Hunzieker?



Christine is from Indiana, right?



And what’s the largest industry in Remington?


You’re sure about that?

What other possibilities are there?

Well, a man in the shaver business might have been impressed enough with Remington, Ind., the he bought the town.

What if he was in the firearms business?

Well, after the hunting season, Remington’s economy might be shot.

Are there a number of people in Remington who tie hay in knots?

Not only that, there are a few in Wolcott.

Tie hay in knots?

Are you ready for this?


Ah yes, I wonder if during Christine’s school days, her friends would tell her what she was doing in the summer.

“Hay Bahler!”

Hay Bahler?

Well, you make bales of hay and Christine’s last name is Bahler, so you get if you were to say to her…

Is there anything else you might like to explain?

Does Christine have her hometown on the back of her car?

No, Wander Indiana is on all Indiana license plates.

What might there be on the other page that Christine might not get?

CoIds and flu?

Well, Willis Hunzieker is the landlord and Christine had the Young Group over and we get a little wild at times, and so you have to remember that Willie might have to say something along the lines of what he’d say to people who were dawdling in the halls at Church when he’s ushering.

Got that?


You are not alone.

Keith is either from Fairbury or Forest, we’re not sure.

Why do you say that?

Well, Keith’s family is from Forest, but he goes around with the Fairbury Young Group.

Well, Fairbury and Forest do a lot together.

They do?


They’re all pretty serious in Fairbury and Forrest, aren’t they?

In a way. Why do you ask?

Well, once I saw a line of very serious-looking brothers at Roanoke. They were all from Fairbury and Forrest. I was standing next to another brother from Fairbury, and I said “I wonder what would happen if I walked over to these brothers across the foyer, and pushed up their cheeks to make them smile.”

Tell me this.


Is it true that between Fairbury and Chatsworth, you can’t see the Forrest for the trees?

You see Christine, there’s this old saying about seeing the Forrest for the threes, and Forrest, IL, and if you drive past it on Route 24, Forrest is on Route 24, isn’t it?

Of course, Forrest is on Route 24. It has an A.C. Church in the town, doesn’t it?

I hadn’t thought of that.

There’s a joke in there somewhere.

There is?

Speaking of bad puns, what is the weather forecast for Southern Livingston County?


Especially around..

Forrest, right?

Moving right along, we find that Keith eventually went into the constriction business. No, he did not farm and he did not tie knots.

Not until June 28.

Christine, on the other hand, had a glove. Actually, she lived with Shellie Messner and Cathy Huthman. This presented an unusual situation whenever they had the Young Group over.

You’re not going to talk about showing up first for everything, are you?

Look at the bright side. Christine, Shellie and Cathy were all presentalbe, er presentable. Besides, you only show up first to play Trivial Pursuit, right?

We won’t get into that right now. Christine moved away from the Generic House, or the Padded Cell, or whatever and moved in with the more with the more sedate group of Cara Nussbaum, Debbie Knoblauch, Stephanie Gerber and Dawn Hoerr.

No comment. After all, one thing is certain.

What’s that?

Are you sure that any house that includes Dawn Hoerr can be considered sedate?

Walk over to those Fairbury and Forrest brothers and start pushing on their cheekbones, okay? You know better than to say that Peoria sisters are sedate. They see a wall and have to be off it. Christine moved in with Cara, Debbie, Stephanie and what’s-her-name and went to work as a nurse.

For how long?

Oh, about a year and a half.

Did you know that Cindy Plattner Strietmatter used to live below Christine, Cathy and Shelle?

Oh, that’s nice.

During this time, Keith had gotten to know Christine better. As we said earlier, Keith had met Christine a long time ago in Forrest, or Fairbury, or wherever they ran around with the Young Group. They also met at singings.

You mean that Keith could actually meet Christine at the singings they have in Fairbury with all those people there?

They wear name tags.

As they got to know each other better, Keith’s love for Christine grew. After praying about marriage, Keith asked Art Bahler for Art relayed the proposal to Roy Sauder, who relayed it to Christine.

Wouldn’t Alfred Bahler also have been notified that Keith had asked for Christine? After all, he is Christine’s home elder.

That’s possible. Anyway, Keith asked for Christine and she prayed about Keith’s proposal. A week later, Fairbury and Forrest invited Peoria for the weekend. Christine went into the Fairbury Fellowship Hall and saw Keith.

Birds suddenly appeared.

Flying back from the South.

Stars fell from the sky.

I find that rather hard to believe.

Keith went to meet Christine.

Their eyes met, two ships passing in the night, glancing at each other across a crowded room.


Suddenly, all the other people in the room faded away (No small feat, seeing that this was a Central Illinois Singing).

Did Keith go ape?

No, Christine is not related to Chip Hemmer.

Speaking of the Hemmers, did Christine notify Art Bahler that she accepted Keith’s proposal and did she let Chuck Hemmer in on it?

Both, since on March 8, the engagement of Sis. Christine Bahel, er, Bahler, to Bro. Keith Steidinger was announced in Peoria, Forrest and Remington.

Were they impressed at the shaver factory?


You said the announcement was made in Remington.

Was the announcement made in Wander, Indiana?

I have no idea.

Thus ends another Joos Roast. I hope I haven’t offended either of you tonight. This meant in a spirit of love. Christine, you’re a radiant sister and it was nice to have you in the Young Group. Keith, all I can say is that you’re going to get a very fine wife.

Again, if I’ve offended either of you or your families, I’m very sorry. May God bless your new Christian Home. Good night.

Okay, explain the dedication.

I’ll have to talk slow, so Cathy and Shellie can understand it.

You see, all three of these sisters had a hard time getting my jokes.

Over their heads, right?

Well in Cathy’s case, that’s pretty easy. She’s short.

Humorous interpretation 101. Class roster: Bahler-Steidinger C., Huthmann C., Massner S. Massner S.R.


Shellie Ray.

Well Christine and Keith, it’s so nice to have you in Peoria. The pizzas are cooking now and when they’re ready, you just call the kids to the table. You can sithe at the head of the table and the jids will behave.

Why are you having Keith and Christine babysit?

Babysit? They’re going to be with the Peoria Young Group.

Keith, if there’s anything here that you need help with, let me know. You’re foing to have your entire wedding trip to explain this to Christine.

Rut these are Peoria in jokes.

I know you should see the trouble Christine has getting Remington’s in jokes.

You’re bombing out. See all those somber-looking brothers across the hall?

They’re from Fairbury and Forrest.

So? Go push up their cheeks.


No Christine! The chicken did not cross the road! Why couldn’t you be stranded in Havana this weekend, like when Keith and Christine were announced?

I had a ride this time.


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