Thursday, February 9, 2012

Soak, Powdering the Jellies, Cutting the Bread, and more!

     When you reflect upon experiences in life it's always fun to reminisce about the fun times you've enjoyed with old friends and in many cases new friends.  The experience that I've written about in what I call "Part 1" of the Colchester Bakery" is not to toot my own horn so to speak of the time I needed financial security but of a time in which I learned about life in general.  Life has it's many ups and downs and for that matter many smooth moments that one can look back at and laugh, smile about, and remember as a worthwhile experience.
     The title "Soak, Powdering the Jellies, Cutting the Bread" etc. is meant to reflect on the countless fun things that existed at that particular place, the Colchester Bakery.  It was a time that I experienced along with Jodie, Jason, Sue, Kara, Ursula(owner's daughter), Walter, and so many more names I will recall eventually.  It's a time that I learned to mentor others, to learn about the importance of working hard, and to learn to respect what others were doing around and about you.  The daily grind of the business owners and the daily grind of the customers coming in each and every day taught me a great deal about life itself.  You learned what it was like to put out thousands of products weekly, what is was like to wake up at 4 a.m. and work for 8 or more hours daily just to produce a product that was sought after by thousands of customers on a monthly basis.
    The production of the bread was in itself an outstanding process. I would give away trade secrets if I told the reader what went into making the rye bread, the "Russian Pumpernickel" or "Black Bread" as some described it.  I can recall hundreds of five pound breads being pushed up the hallway to the front and placed in the glass cases to be served to our loyal customers.  The cutting of the bread was in itself an art form as I look back.  The customer either wanted it whole and place in plastic. Or, if too hot and that fresh out of the oven it was recommended that the bread be place in paper and left open so it could breathe so to speak.  I can also recall slicing the bread with the slicing machine and sending it through watching your hands and fingers so you would cut yourself. The machines were safe but you had to still be careful.  The fun part of the cutting of the bread was when a customer would want it "quartered and sliced".  Without reservation I can say that the cutting of the "bread" was one of the important components of their successful business.
     Though time has passed and I've not frequented the bakery as often as I used to the memory of the smells of the bread and the size and shapes still is "fresh" in my mind.  Yes, there exists a pun, my first in this descriptive story being told.
     The "soak" as I've so mentioned earlier was simply an old school or old world way of making the bread.  It was a way that I'm sure was a recipe brought down through the ages.
     The "Powdering of the Jellies" was very simple.  I had always wondered how can a bakery get so much powder on so many donuts.  Well the jelly donut shells were first made, and then the jelly was squirted into the center of the donuts with a special machine, and then the donuts were sent into by hand at the time into a machine that had confectionary sugar that tossed and turned around and about the jelly covered shells. Sometimes customers requested donuts without confectionary sugar so we had trays; one or two of plain jellies.  One had to be careful when carrying the entire tray of donuts back to the display cases.  A tray from memory could hold in upwards of three to four dozen or more donuts.  I would venture to guess I prepared at least 5,000 jelly donuts in my time spent at the bakery.  Most likely more than that but I pick that as a random guess.
     As Jodie and I spoke recently about our experience she mentioned to me that the bakery was her first job. It's really cool that you can connect with someone over time about an experience that was well worth the time spent, the early hours getting up, and the hard work that it did take to help support one of Colchester's iconic spots. People from many states have frequented it. In my travels I've heard from people that have said, "oh Colchester, is the bakery still there?".  Of course the answer is emphatically "Yes".  Obviously the experience is one that was well worth the time. I wouldn't be writing about it. It's a memory that when I reflect upon it, I thank the owner Walter, and now his daughter Ursula for allowing me to work there.  It was a time that I needed to find work and I learned through this experience what it takes to be successful.
     One thing that rings true with those that were my co-workers I believe is that the experience taught them the importance of working hard and of course working with a diverse group of people both younger and older.  It taught me to respect the younger generation and to listen to those that had far more experience than I in that particular business. It was for that matter a time well spent.
    The laughter we experienced, the fun and enjoyable times spent working together, gave rise to friendships that still exist.  The customers we learned about, the daily grind of life in general that so many experienced through the doors of the bakery will always be a part of my life and the life of those that I experienced it with.  Until I write again enjoy each and every day to the best of your ability.

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