My part of the town I grew up in had a little commerce strip, two blocks, along the busiest street. In order, west to east, the businesses there were: a hardware store, grocery, post office, cafe, Bridgeman’s Dairy, Sammy’s Pizza, Gustafson’s Bakery, a barber shop, and a dentist. A couple blocks further east, there was another small strip, with a variety store, a bakery, a corner shop, and another hardware store. I don’t remember the name of that second bakery, but the son of the baker was in my class at the elementary school, and we were pals for awhile. His name was Leon.
He was popular with his inner circle of friends, of course, we would go down to the bakery and see his dad, have a blast jumping on giant sacks of flour, and watching the flour dust puff up and form clouds in the room. And of course, his dad, a jovial giant, would occasionally give us a treat.
I remember one day we took a class field trip there, and he spent the whole time talking and showing us about baking bread. I remember being especially fascinated that he went to work at 3AM.
At some point in my early childhood, pre teen years, Leon quit coming to school, and we learned later he died from some childhood malady. I don’t recall ever hearing what it was, but then back in those days, people didn’t talk about ‘bad things’ much.
Sometimes I believe I can conjure up a smell or taste from my childhood. Some long lost forgotten comfort.
I felt that way yesterday biting into a treat from Portland’s Tulip Bakery in St. John’s.
I remembered Leon and his dad, and an occasional free donut fresh from the fryer.