In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “The Transporter.”
Take me back. Ah, yes. The earliest sensation, is one that I have from childhood. It is the smell of bread baking in my Grandmothers kitchen. It is one of my favorites. Most of my childhood, we lived with my grandparents in their beautiful, 3-story home, in a quaint section of Philadelphia. It was the house that my Dad and his brothers and sisters grew up in. One with strong family history.
I loved that house, because there was so much love. I felt safe. I could curl up anywhere and read a book. Play hide and seek for endless hours. It was a great place to grow up.
Most of the time bread was made for family gatherings, you know the important ones…Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter. The aroma, oh, it filled that house with this wonderful, wholesome smell. All the way to the 3rd floor, that my little family of four shared. My grandmother spent all day, sun up to sundown, baking with my grandfather.
She would knead dough on this solid, round table. I thought that table was the biggest table ever when I was a kid. It fit so many people around it. So many laughing people. Happy people.
Here I would sit on the back steps to the kitchen, watching, with KYW 1060 on the radio, or a station with big band era music on. I would watch her hands, they were strong and hard, yet, they made the dough soft. It bewildered me. I’d laugh at my Pop Pop as he kneaded and said, “Look how this Polak puts this Irishman to work, Kate.” And she’d smile, and tell me to feel the dough. So I would, and my Pop would laugh and say, “Feels as smooth as a baby’s bottom!”, then throw more flour on the table to knead. She’d laugh.
It is the most vivid and most wonderful moments of my childhood. Seeing my grandparents together, helping one another, laughing. She taught me how to bake bread. And how to break bread. They both did, really. She had a special plate for the challah or as she would call it her, “Agape” bread(Agape meaning: love, the highest form of love, especially brotherly love. The highest form of charity.). My Pop Pop would bless it too, he is a Deacon. It’s pretty special. He would say Grace before our meal, we would bow our heads in thanks. Then, we broke bread.
My dad, is the youngest of 6. My grandmother, was one of 11. My grandfather, one of 4, (he had a twin we never met). We had sometimes two or three tables. My grandmother, Babcia, or Betty, to most, always would invite people from the parish or community and would have an open house. It could get crowded pretty quick, there were always people to talk to. People knew me even if I didn’t know them. That house had a revolving door, any time of year.
I always thought of my grandparents as probably the most important people in our community. Everyone knew them, everyone loved them. I felt like a celebrity… almost. Our holidays are still like that. Special. Just a little less people now a days, but the warmth is still there. Pop Pop makes his Manhattan’s, and is cheerful to everyone. He always has compassion and love in his eyes. And no matter what, everyone goes home with a loaf of bread. Her memory lives on.
Now that I’m older, and have my own kitchen, I make her bread. The smell takes me back to memories of family. I think that was always her plan. To remind me, no matter where I am, family is there. ❤