As I was eating my toast with sliced cheese this morning, I had a flashback to my dad, Lester Kramer, sitting across the table from me at his home in Framingham, Massachusetts ten years ago. My dad was sick with cancer and nearing his last year of life, but I remember so well his simple contentment with a breakfast of toast and sliced cheese. I realized in that moment that I had taken on some of my dad’s habits – not only his culinary “likes” but his speech and expressions, and also his appreciation for nature, birds, and the beauty that one tends to see when we aren’t preoccupied with everything else in our busy lives.
But getting back to the toast, I started thinking about the different kinds of toast my dad loved: light rye, dark rye and pumpernickel – all reflections of his early life in Worcester, MA during the depression years. It was a very different time: loaves of bread probably sold for ten cents and sitting at the table with your family in the morning and having breakfast was a real event.
I thought about how my dad and my grandfather tried to pass on these traditions to me by taking me, as a small child, to Water Street – then, the Jewish commercial section of Worcester, where there were two bakeries (Lederman’s and Widoff’s), a produce market (Sheppie’s), and two good delis (The Broadway and Weintraub’s). I have fond memories of shopping for produce with my grandfather when I was six or seven years old.
Many years later, I got one of my earliest jobs working at Widoff’s Bakery as counter help. It didn’t last long – maybe three months – but I got to be a part of what was a very important business in my community and of course, I got to learn humility by working very hard for minimum wage!
What I know now, as an adult, is that bakers are a very unrecognized and under-appreciated profession. These are people who are up at 3 a.m. to bake fresh bread, muffins, pastries and other delicacies that we take for granted. They don’t make much money and it’s very hard work as well as very long days.
So today, I’m reflecting on the memories I still hold dear from my childhood of that time from the past when my dad and I got to share breakfast and he commented that all he really wanted for breakfast was a piece of toast with cheese (not melted) and a sliced orange – and that was enough.
Today, I’m so grateful that I can relive these memories. They are all valuable reference points to who I am as a person and the values I carry forward.
Pat Kramer, aka “Writer For Hire,” is a professional business writer, ghostwriter, and content & social media writer who helps individuals better express themselves and improve the visibility of their business branding campaigns. For more info, see: www.writerpatkramer.com.