Your Turn

Your Turn/Lucas Brass

Lucas Brass
Posted: Jun. 20, 2020 5:00 pm Updated: Jun. 20, 2020 10:29 pm

When I was a kid, I wanted to be ... If I remember right, probably a farmer or a firefighter. My grandfather was a farmer, and I was able to help out a lot. My dad was a volunteer firefighter, and what little kid doesn't look cool in a fire helmet and tall boots! I work around agriculture everyday as well as operate a small farm with my father-in-law, and I got to be a volunteer firefighter in high school and college.

What would you rather be doing right now? I umpire baseball and softball, mainly high school level, but have done the Gems and Hoots and many levels of Little League for the past 20 years. I love being around the game and on the field. I've seen no-hitters, walk-off winners and even a triple play last summer. Losing this season to the COVID shutdown was a stinker.

Shhhhhh! Don't tell anyone that ... I was buried alive in a trench collapse while developing a spring for livestock in 2003. It was weird because I could hear the three people near me, and I could see some light, but it still took over 10 minutes for them to get my head uncovered. They said there was about four feet of dirt on top of me.

Other than your wedding day and/or the birth of your children, what was your proudest moment? We built a house on our own in Canton, Mo., around some really awesome neighbors, shortly after getting married. With help from my dad, father-in-law and uncle, we worked every weekend for six months to make our dream a reality. We had help from other family and friends along the way as well. We did just about everything on our own except concrete, HVAC, septic and some brick. That helped lead us to the ability to purchase a farm in 2018.

It really stinks when ... people have poor manners. I spent a lot of time at my grandparents growing up since they were right next door. My uncle was still at home, and he was the "manners police." If you didn't say please or thank you, you were going to be corrected.

What word in the dictionary would your face be next to? Loud. My voice has always carried very well.

I always laugh when ... people use funny movie quotes in real lie situations. "Blues Brothers" is probably my all-time favorite movie, and I use lines from that all the time. "We're on a mission from God!"

Invite any three people, living or dead, to dinner. Who are they? My Grandpa Ball. He passed when I was 8, and I didn't get to know him well. He received a Congressional Medal of Honor and a purple heart in World War II. It would have been nice to learn more from him. Jim Gaffigan. He's my favorite comedian. His act is clean and based around common family humor, similar to mine. Stan Musial. I am a huge St. Louis Cardinals fan. My great-uncle was a Cardinals historian, and he would tell stories of seeing Stan play and how awesome of a guy Musial was.

At the end of a really long day at work, I like to ... mow grass. Nothing beats focusing on making your yard or someone else's stand out.

People who knew me in high school thought I was ... What would you think of a 16-year-old kid with a flattop haircut that had a ton of school spirit -- Go Eagles (Orchard Farm, not Liberty, sorry) -- liked to mow grass two or three nights a week for extra money and ride ATVs along the Missouri River with his friends for fun? Not sure the flattop impressed the girls, but I had a lot of fun in four years and walked away with a prom king crown!

My most unforgettable brush with greatness was ... I haven't bumped into anyone that I know of, but my uncle, Andy Brass, drove the monster truck "BigFoot" for many years. We used to watch him on TV, and you can still watch some of his races on YouTube.

I would drop all my plans tonight if I had the chance to ... umpire a Major League Baseball game.

If someone gave me a million dollars, there is STILL no way I would ... root for the Chicago Cubs. Growing up in St. Louis and having learned much Cardinal history, it has been a joy to root for a team that has won 11 World Championships. Sorry Cubs fans. I just don't have it in me, but I appreciate your commitment to your team, and I share in your passion for the game of baseball.

America should be more concerned about ... trying to find common or middle ground (even in baseball). I know we don't all agree on everything, but if we can find something that we have in common or agree on, then we can start to build a bridge from there.

I'm OK if there's ever a national shortage of ... hats. I have always worn a hat.

When I'm on the internet, I always go to ... I grew up just north of St. Louis, and I like to read up on what is going on in the area and keep up with the Cardinals and Blues.

What is the most useful piece of advice you have ever received? Julius Hunter, a former news anchor in St. Louis, gave a commencement address at my high school. I don't remember his exact words, but it was to the effect that "if you are looking for a helping hand, look no further than the one at the end of your arm."

When I'm cruising down the road, I'm likely listening to ... classic country music. My dad turned me on to it when I was young, and I enjoy the sound of steel guitars, fiddles and simple lyrics.

I always get sentimental when ... our kids achieve success or are willing to put in needed effort and then they, I or others recognize the results of those efforts.

The older I get, the more I realize ... through my job and farming, just how important it is to be a good steward of the land and strive to leave it better for the next generation.

If I had one "do-over," I would ... have taken a chance at umpiring school. I didn't realize I could have graduated college early until it was too late. I could have attended umpire school in Florida in February. Who knows where that road would have taken me.

My favorite item of clothing is ... my Brass Boys T-shirt. My cousin's last name is not Brass. When he was little, he told my aunt he wanted to go live with his other cousins on the farm and be a "Brass Boy." My aunt said she really didn't' know how to tell him he was one, just not the last name. For Christmas that year I had shirts made up for all of us, Grandpa, uncles and grandsons. I made the younger ones close their eyes, and I put the shirts on them. When the little one opened his eyes and saw his shirt, he looked at my aunt with the biggest grin I have ever seen and yelled, "Mom I'm a Brass Boy. I'm a Brass Boy!"

If I've learned anything at all ... it is that hard work and honesty will help you to achieve your goals and earn respect of those around you. Laughter helps keep a positive outlook, and when I think I have things figured out, the good Lord gave me an 8-year-old redhead to challenge my so-called expertise!

Lucas Brass, 38, is a soil conservationist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture in New London, Mo. Married for 15 years, Lucas and his wife, Betsey, have two kids, Isaiah, 10, and Rozalyn, 8. He was born and raised on a family farm in West Alton, Mo., and now lives in Payson, Ill., and farms north of Barry, Ill.