The Village & The Philosopher


The sun is starting to shine

through the early morning haze, and the philosopher is already there.
Before the door is even unlocked he waits patiently outside, a hat on his head, and a book under his arm. If you have ever been to The Village in the morning, you’ve seen Michael.

If you are amongst the truly fortunate, you’ve shared a conversation with him. Michael is our professor, and his love for German philosophy has been passed onto many a young would-be disciple over a cup of coffee.

Tracing his family back over 200 years, Michael Kraft is descended from a long line of Brazos Valley natives. His mother came from a prominent family in the Navasota area, and the lives of his father’s family were entwined with A&M. Michael was born October 22nd, 1946, in a building that is so close to The Village that if you try hard and believe in yourself, you could throw a rock and hit it from the patio. Why he was born in 1946 is a story worth hearing. His grandfather was a professor at A&M, his father grew up on campus, and then went to A&M in order to study electrical engineering. However, when the Great Depression hit, he had to drop out. He went to work, starting a business and at the same time married the woman who would become Michael’s mother. They worked hard and managed to be successful during the Great Depression, which was no easy feat. Then WW2 came along, and by 1942 the government ran out of eligible single men. Mr. Kraft was married, but had no children, and so was drafted into the US Navy when he was 36 years old. His time in the navy was plagued by disasters.One ship sank in a typhoon, and later a destroyer that he was on was hit by a kamikaze. Upon being discharged in 1945 he was determined to be happy, despite the horrors he’d witnessed in the war, and so in 1946, Michael was born.

Even though his father wanted him to go to A&M, Michael left Bryan to pursue his degree at the University of California, Riverside amidst the uproar of the 1960’s. From there he went to the New School in New York (on full scholarship with a pretty hefty stipend for the time), because at that point in history, it was one of only two schools in America where he could study German Philosophy.

Since it opened in November 2008, The Village has become a second home for Michael. When asked what brings him back to The Village, he doesn’t have to think about it. “Cafe Schneller” he says, as he travels back in time to a cafe in Munich. “I was in Munich for a time, and there was a traditional cafe there called Cafe Schneller.” He then went on to tell me about how for the price of coffee, anyone could spend the day at that small cafe, reading, chatting, and simply watching the world go by. Michael remembers how the woman who owned it knew everything about everyone in her world, and would tell you about it if you were so inclined to listen. “The Village is similar to that cafe, because you can come here, and you can stay (at least for a while), and with one cup of coffee you can stay and read the newspaper, and it’s just similar to places I used to linger.” Every morning, Michael will come in, buy a cup of coffee, and watch the life cycle of the cafe. With a wry smile he points out that he remembers back to when I was a new line cook, singing around town on the weekends. To me, that feels like an eternity ago, but to Michael watching from the outside, it only just happened. For Villagers like Michael, that’s one of the best things about The Village: the way it lets you slip into a community, into the easy passing of time. As Michael Kraft sips his coffee and chats with whomever stops by, he’s a fellow passenger, a participant in everyone else’s journey. At a place like The Village, it’s easier to remember that we’re all in this together.

Why don’t you come by and share a cup of coffee with a friend? Grab a bowl of soup and spend a little time watching life happen. We’ve got a table waiting for you.

Favorite Item on the menu: The eggplant panini. During his time in New York, Michael was once romantically involved with an Italian woman. She made him eggplant, and that was the first time he’d ever had the dish properly prepared. When not prepared well, eggplant is… less than delightful. The Village’s eggplant is made with love, and that definitely shows in the panini!

-Jessica Lemmons, Copy Sparkle

Maria Mora