1888 The Busy Baker

 This story is read aloud at: https://youtu.be/omxpW0oXXkA

Synopsis: On Election Day, a tall girl initiates the wedding of her mom and forgetful boss.

Historic relevance

November 6, 1888

I was in the bakery reading my mom a joke from Beeton’s Book of Jokes and Jests. “What do you call a giggling bull?”

“I don’t know,” Mom answered.

A laughingstock—I said, and then I burst out chuckling.

I love jokes, and my Mom likes me to read them to her when my chores are done.      

“Have you stacked the wood in the firebox yet?” she asked, while kneading bread dough for the day. “If you have, I have an errand for you. I need baking powder from the General Store.”

And that’s how the day I got a new dad began.

Until that day, Mom and I’d been drifting from one town to another while she was trying to snag a man. We’re both hard workers, but we have a strike against us—we’re both extremely tall females.

For some reason, men don’t want a wife to be a foot taller than they are. I’m only eleven, and I’m as tall as my boss, Joe Akiva, the owner of the bakery.

Speaking of Joe (my new dad), I don’t know what he would do without us. One minute he’s mixing up dough, and the next minute he’s forgotten the dough and is talking to the wood-delivery man. I have to remind him to go back to the dough because, without me, he’d start working on batter for cakes. If there was ever a person with a thousand ideas in his head all at the same time, it would be Mr. Akiva.

He is a stark contrast to Mr. Dressler, who is at the bakery we were at before Joe’s. Dressler’s Bakery by the Nimitz Hotel is run like a business with a compassionate dictator. We liked working there, but because we’re looking for a dad for me, and Mr. Dressler was already married, we got involved with Joe’s Bakery on Oakes Street.

But enough about Dressler’s. That day, not only did Joe become my dad, but all of the thirty-eight states of America were voting on who would be president of the United States. Incumbent Grover Cleveland was being challenged by Benjamin Harrison.

Because of Election Day, weeks earlier I had an idea to sell promotional presidential cookies with either a “C” or an “H” stamped in the center. We made dozens, upon dozens of the sugar cookies days before the vote. Voting was taking place at the Mays and Wright’s office on Concho (which is halfway between Joe’s Bakery and Dressler’s Bakery.) We knew a lot of people would be out, and we would be ready for them with cookies of their liking.

Then out of the blue, opportunity struck me in the face.

On the way to the General Store, I came upon the preacher talking to a young unmarried couple. They were apparently arranging their nuptials. I stopped to chat with them.

Somewhere in the conversation, I came up with a tactic that might help my mom and me. I then convinced the street-talkers to come to our bakery at six that night for their ceremony. I’d have a wedding cake—free of charge—ready for them.

Throughout the day we were very busy waiting on customers and baking, but I did remember to make a small wedding cake. But, as the day wore on, the Benjamin Harrison campaigners bought all of the “H”-stamped cookies and were luring men on the street, reminding them to vote for Benjamin Harrison.

“And by the way, here is a cookie to prompt you,” they’d say.

But back at the bakery we remained busy.

I did find time to ask my mom, “Have you ever just flat-out asked a man to marry you?”

“Are you kidding?” she replied with a quizzical look on her face. And that was the end of that. I thought.

So, I’d have to rely on my scheme to get a dad.

I went to Joe and asked, “Have you ever thought about marrying my mom?” This became thought number twenty-seven of the fifty thoughts concurrently running through his mind.

He smilingly replied, “I’ll think about it,” then went about the shop crazy-eyed.

My spirits were lifted. Later, I told him that I’d watch the bakery because he had forgotten to vote, and here it was nearly 5:30!

While he was gone, I told my mom, “Joe is thinking about marrying you.”

She turned beet red and claimed that I was in big trouble for meddling in her business.

“Mom, it’s my life, too,” I said over the noise of the flurry of people coming into the bakery.

At six o’clock there were lots of people packed in the small shop for the wedding. Gosh, I hope I made a big enough cake, I thought.

Joe came back to the bakery and was dumbfounded by the crowd. I explained the deal I’d made with the preacher and the couple to him. His brain was overflowing with confusion. Thought number twenty-seven (he marries my mom) had already vacated his brain’s vault. But I reminded him that he’d said there was a possibility—

And so without much more commotion, one wedding became a double wedding—as I had planned—and the joke was on my mom. The guests ate the wedding cake, while Joe, Mom, and I ate the leftover cookies stamped with the “C.”  

Later that night, when Mom and I moved into the upstairs area of the bakery with Joe, I told them I’d sleep downstairs. I then asked, “Are y’all mad at me?”

Joe said, “I’m glad I have a wife and business partner. I got a good deal today.”

Mom said to me, “You grabbed the bull by its horns.”

“And now I’ll take the man at his word,” she said as she bent down to give Joe a whopping big kiss.

We won, I thought.

Weeks later I found out that Benjamin Harrison had—surprisingly—won the presidency.

My cookie craftiness had done the trick with that quandary as well.

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