A Jorgensen's regular
Waterville resident Vernon Miller spends so much time in Jorgensen’s Café on Main Street that there is a sign over his usual table that reads, “Reserved for Vernon.” Miller’s friends describe him as a “theologian.”
Although he’s lived on both coasts and was born in the mid-west, Vernon Miller’s home is now Jorgensen’s Café on Main Street in Waterville. No, he doesn’t quite reside there, but after living in Waterville for eight years, it sometimes seems as though Miller has become as much of a staple as the Café itself.
Day after day, Miller sits at the same table, talking and debating with friends, meeting students from the College and reading about Christianity. On the wall by his most frequented table is a more recent addition: a sign, framed and decorated with loving stickers, that reads, “Reserved for Vernon.”
Even though Miller studied and worked in civil engineering, at heart “he’s a theologian,” his friend Peter Mitchell told me as I joined their cozy table downtown this past Tuesday afternoon.
It turns out that I had inserted myself into an ongoing discussion on Christianity, and for the next hour or so, we talked about religion and Miller’s deep respect and love—paternal and otherwise—for women. I sat to his left, and a copy of Power Encounters: Reclaiming Spiritual Warfare sat to his right.
Miller is a mentor to many in Waterville, in part because of his deep devotion to Christianity. He said that he did not always live his life that way, though, and things really fell apart for him about 50 years ago.
“The way I describe it,” he said, “is that the Lord flushed a toilet and reached in and grabbed me by the big toe and shook me and said, ‘You have one more chance.’” From that day on, Miller has lived his life according to Christ. “I take the Bible as the absolute truth,” he said.
Miller met the love of his life and his late wife of 35 years, Keturah—or Kitty, for short—when he was living in Boston. When they were together, he said, “Everything just fit….She made a man out of me.” He still wears his wedding ring.
Miller and I talked for a long time about gender relations, specifically about how men treat women in this day and age, and Miller told me that the thing he least comprehends in this world, and that angers him the most, is when women are treated poorly.
“There’s no way you can hurt a girl,” Miller said, and he admitted that he’d been in some heated conversations with College students before when they “pushed the wrong button.” It’s hard for his anger not to flare when men take advantage of women’s vulnerability and desire to be loved, he explained.
In this day and age, Miller has found a loving community here in Waterville. He lives in the lower level of Pastor Brent Small (of Waterville’s Evangelical Faith Free Church) family’s house, but still he misses his wife. “I can pick myself up by thinking about the good times and how much I loved her,” he said. “But still, it’s a lonely life, and hugging your stuffed animal won’t do it.”