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Brockman has led happy life

Lawrence Brockman was nervous.

Brockman, a resident at Trinity Care Center, had agreed to be interviewed. But when the time came he wasn't so sure he liked the idea. He was afraid of saying the wrong thing, he said. Afraid he'd offend someone. When the time for the interview rolled around, he sat in his room with a Rosary in his hand.

Who knew the Independent could be so intimidating?

Brockman didn't have anything to worry about, it turns out. If he's got any deep, dark secrets they never came up. All that emerged Tuesday was a portrait of a man who has lived a long and mostly happy lifetime in Farmington.

Brockman was born on a farm east of town and he never wandered too far from home.

Brockman's family owned a 160-acre dairy farm and rented another 100 acres or so six miles east of Empire and one mile north. One of two children -- he had one sister -- he spent his days planting crops, harvesting and filling silos. Early on, the family did much of its farming with horses.

"I did what Dad told me to do, and that was about the size of it," Brockman said. "There wasn't much paycheck in it."

Brockman attended a country school in District 39 through eighth grade. All eight grades were in a single building, and there was one teacher for all of the students.

Brockman never went to high school. He was too far from town, he said, and with no transportation to get him here attending classes would have meant finding a place in town to stay.

So, Brockman stayed home. He worked the farm. It was harder to make friends that way, but he managed. Dances provided a welcome chance to socialize.

Brockman met Mary Catherine Ludwig at one of those dances. She was a farm girl, and he thought she was attractive and gentle. She'd wanted to become a nun, he said, but her family needed her at home.

That worked out well for Brockman, who said he "latched onto" Ludwig after that first dance.

"After a while we started going steady. Then we decided, let's try the next step," he said.

Brockman remembers that he was married on July 16, though he's not sure of the year. He and Mary Catherine were married for 50 years, he said, before she died three years ago.

The couple raised 12 children.

Brockman might have had more social options if he'd gone to high school, but he has no complaints with the way things worked out.

"I would have met more people, but I don't think I could have found a better partner," he said. "She was a saint, but she wasn't married to a saint."

Brockman eventually bought the family farm from his father. He still owns it today. He built most of the buildings that are on the property. A son-in-law farms the land, though the dairy cattle went away when Brockman retired.

Brockman isn't nearly as busy as he used to be. He has time to think about his life and what he might have done differently.

The answer, it seems, is, not a lot.

"I've lived in the same place my whole darn life," he said. "That was all I really knew. We stayed with it and it gave us a decent living.

"If I had it to do over again, I think I'd do the same thing."