It's been a long week and a half in town. For what seems like forever, a sign on the door of our main street bakery has said: "Closed -- March 12 - 20. Open again on March 21st." What? No goodies this week? But why not -- this mom and pop operation sends family members to work in the middle of the night, while everybody else is sleeping, to bake fresh bread, rolls, cookies, cakes, doughnuts, doughnut holes, crisp elephant ears, apple fritters, long johns, Danish cinnamon delights and countless other pastries and taste sensations that can't be duplicated anywhere else. They deserve a break from their ovens.
I'm a lifetime fan of bakeries. I've told you before about Jimmy the Baker at Garrison, N.D. The kids in Garrison all knew about Jimmy the Baker, though none of them knew his last name. They knew Jimmy always had need of cardboard boxes and any kid who brought a good cardboard box into the Garrison Bakery got a free bismarck. I brought lots of cardboard boxes in for Jimmy, I ate lots of bismarcks and I had gobs of jelly on my t-shirts. Yes, kids and adults can do business together -- we had transactions every day.
There is nothing like the bakery aroma. An aromachologist is an expert on the subject of aromas. I read recently that, according to a noted aromachologist: "Bakeries are great community assets, like churches and museums." I believe it. In Fergus Falls there is a huge bakery just across the street from the Otter Tail County Courthouse. It's not a main street bakery where you can walk in and buy doughnuts, it's just a mammoth bread-baking factory. But the wonderful aroma fills the entire neighborhood. So, for folks going to the courthouse, they're having a most pleasant experience until they open the door and walk inside. Then, it all depends on whether they're going in to get a marriage license or to pay a traffic fine. But when they come out again, the smell of fresh bread hits them one more time and all their troubles are forgotten.
Years ago I attended University of Minnesota football games outdoors at Memorial Stadium. From time to time I experienced a pleasant bakery smell. Finally, I asked some more experienced students what that great aroma was. They said, "Don't you recognize the smell of rye?"
"You mean rye bread?" I asked.
"No, that's rye whiskey."
You can learn a lot at the university.
One of my favorite bakery workers is a grandmother who always has a positive outlook. It's probably because she works at the bakery. I asked her how she was the other day and she said, "Spectacular." How could it be any better than that? She says her granddaughter loves to wear grandmother's bakery smock. She even loves to sleep in it. So grandma asked her why she sleeps in that smock. "Because it smells so good," the girl said. "I always have sweet dreams."
One thing more. There is a "feel good" factor connected with fresh bakery goods that goes well beyond eating and smelling pleasures. You've heard of "Jelly Roll" Morton, a ragtime and jazz composer and performer in the early 20th century. Morton was sometimes called "the inventor of jazz." His real name wasn't Jelly Roll Morton of course -- it was Ferdinand Joseph LaMonthe. He had immense talent, but that wasn't enough. He needed a better name. He was a great self-promoter who wrote the "Jelly Roll Blues," then called himself Jelly Roll Morton. The name clicked. He lived with his religious grandmother and told her he worked as a night watchman at a pickle factory in New Orleans. Actually, he was playing jazz at what they called a "Sporting House." She kicked him out when she learned the truth.
The point of telling you about Jelly Roll is that if you have a talented kid you want to go somewhere, you won't call your boy Ferdinand or your girl Margaret Rose. To get a new career rolling, connect with the feel-good factor of bakery goods. So when your little boy or girl starts their piano or guitar lessons, give the boy a nickname like, Long John or Strudel, and you won't call your little girl Dumpling, you'll call her Muffin, Honeybun or Cupcake. It will be your family headstart program. Hey, it's worth a try.
Meanwhile, try to find a town or neighborhood with a church, a museum and a bakery.