The town in which I spent my youth had a sidewalk sale every year. I guess I should really call it the Sidewalk Sale (with caps), as it was not just a sale, but quite a special event. All of the downtown stores would pull outside their racks of clothes and shoes, or their jewelry cases, or shelves filled with notions or hardware or inexpensive jewelry with markdown prices. That day, the town would fill up with shoppers, both folks from in town and others from nearby farms throughout Platte County and beyond, all looking for bargains.

In our case, we pulled out enormous cases filled with baked goods, but primarily glazed doughnuts. My dad made delicious glazed yeast doughnuts. One of my cousins recently described my dad’s doughnuts as being so light they practically floated. And on the day of the sidewalk sale, we sold our glazed doughnuts, which normally cost 65 cents a dozen for half price.  So you can imagine just how many dozens and dozens and dozens of doughnuts we sold on the day of the Sidewalk Sale. Those doughnuts were not manufactured by any kind of automated system as they are at Krispie Kreme. My dad would cut each doughnut by hand. I remember that with one movement, my dad would cut the doughnut, and throw it up over his thumb, thereby knocking out the doughnut hole, until he couldn’t fit any more on his thumb. I can still hear the thump, thump, thump as he cut each doughnut, one at a time. Once his thumb was full, he would lay them out on the screen to put into the proof box to rise. He could fill a screen full of doughnuts faster than Krispie Kreme ever imagined.

So on the day of the Sidewalk Sale, he and another baker were in the back cutting, proofing, frying, and glazing doughnuts nonstop. At regular intervals, my mom would come out with a new tray of freshly fried and glazed doughnuts, and place them in the showcase. I remember two specific things about working on Sidewalk Sale Day. First, it was a never-ending battle to keep flies out of the showcase. It was Nebraska in the summertime, people. One of the bakery clerks (often Bec or me) was constantly pounding on the outside of the case while another (often Bec or me) was making sure that the annoying insect flew away. No sooner would one be gone than another would sneak in. It was a never-ending battle, but we were quite successful, if relentless.

And the second thing I remember is that, one-after-another, people would ask, “Are those doughnuts fresh?” Are they fresh? Are they fresh? Seriously? Because we can hardly even pick them up to put in a box because they are so dang hot. To the moon, Alice…..

People love a bargain, don’t they? That’s why places like Goodwill and T.J. Maxx stay in existence. I like a bargain as much as the next guy.

My niece Maggie recently told me about a bargain of which I was unaware. It seems Jimmy John’s sells yesterday’s bread for half a buck a loaf. I’m talking those big loaves of bread that are something like 15 or 16 inches long. Maggie uses them when she makes her delicious Cuban sandwiches. The other day, when she included Bill and me in a dinner of Cuban sandwiches, I offered to pick up the bread from Jimmy John’s.  Sure enough, a pyramid of French bread loaves sat on the JJ’s counter, selling for 45 cent each. I purchased 4 loaves. The young woman waiting on me who, up until that point, had been speaking in a normal voice, suddenly said something to me in what the Romans would call sotto voce. She had a surreptitious look about her and I suddenly felt like I was part of a detective movie. “Pardon me?” I said. “Could you repeat that?”

In a bit louder whisper, yet still barely moving her lips, she said, “Take them from the bottom of the pile; they’re better.”

Ah ha. Nice girl. Bottom of the pile it was.

At any rate, it reminded me of the day-old bread rack at our bakery. Each night, at closing time, one of the jobs of whoever was closing the store was to bag up the leftover doughnuts and rolls, and gather up any loaves of bread that hadn’t sold that day, and place the whole kit-and-kaboodle on the day-old rack. The next day, those goodies would be sold at half price to thrifty shoppers, most of whom were farmers because they are eager for a bargain and are the early birds that get the worms.

That brought the 29 cent loaf of bread down to a whopping 14 cents. Imagine…..

Thursday thoughts

And Then There Were None
Earlier this week we went to check on our mockingbird friends and discovered they were gone. They had flown the coop! Or the nest, really. All that was left was a few twigs that gave a nod to a nest having ever been there. I don’t know the status of the Mockingbird family, but I saw no birds carcasses. So, in my world, they are enjoying their new lives. Born free, as free as the wind blows…..

Hashtag I’m Worn Out
I babysat for Austin and Lilly last night, and those two DID ME IN. It was like they smelled weakness. I wasn’t there a half hour before they had pulled all of the cushions off of the sofa and we’re doing something that was a combination of trampolines and hide ‘n seek. At one point Austin said (and I quote), “Hashtag, I know I can do this,” as he prepared to place Lilly under one of the cushions and jump on it from the sofa. And I’m not kidding about the “hashtag.” I managed to head that one off at the pass. I thought it would be simple to put the cushions back, but since it is a sectional, it was like a crossword puzzle. And here is the point at which I knew I had lost all control…..
austin lilly shirts
Yesterday Bill and I made a trip to Goodwill to get rid of stuff we had been piling up in our little den. That made room for us to begin piling other stuff that we will be taking back to Denver with us at the end of next week. We really try to be at the point where we don’t have to transfer a lot of stuff back and forth, but we never fail to have a car full when we pull out of our driveway, either direction.

Some like it Hot
My granddaughter Kaiya has been studying the desert in her social studies class (or whatever they call it when you’re in second grade). The grand finale was a diorama featuring some aspects of desert life about which they have been studying. She and I have been discussing her studies for the past month or so, so she was proud to show me her project….
kaiya diarama

I was a little surprised at the Bactrian camel, but I had to remind myself that there are more deserts than simply the Sonoran Desert in which I have lived for the past four months. I think she did a great job.