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Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Swedish Bakery or why I spend two hours waiting

Yesterday, I loaded my buddy into the car seat, and after buckling him in, departed for a nostalgic ride to the Swedish Bakery in the Andersonville neighborhood of Chicago.

Not my typical outing with a seventeen month old, nor even without a seventeen month old.

But...a institution was closing. A place where I have purchased cookies, birthday cakes, poppy seed pastries, cardamom coffee cakes and wedding cakes.

My fondest memories of the Swedish Bakery is of when my eldest daughter was in graduate school near the bakery. I would drive down early in the morning to the city, exiting on Cicero, heading south till I came to Foster.  Turning so I was facing the sun, I drove east to Andersonville, to care for my grandnephew so his parents could work.  I would circle the block hoping to find a parking space close to their home on Glenwood, then hustle in, so the parents could leave.
Poppyseed, something delicious

I would bundle the baby up in his stroller, walk
the morning away in the charming neighborhoods while waiting for my daughter to walk over after class. We would meet up at the bakery, get a "little treat" for later, find a bench along Clark street, sit and catch up while we indulged in our treat.

As the baby would gurgle and coo, We would look at each other and say, this is our future! Someday it will be my daughter will have a baby, we'll go to the bakery, walk these shady streets in conversation looking for the bench to eat our treat.

Getting another angle 
Those days we dreamed of will never come.  While my daughter is now with child, the bakery has closed it's doors as of today.  It had been feeding families for eighty-eight years.

SO, yesterday morning, my son's son and I went to the bakery to retrieve some "treats" to bring home to  enjoy the goodness one last time.  When we arrived, I knew it was going to be crowded, but I was amazed at just how crowded.  My number was C93, the number they were calling was B01. I had 192 people ahead of me.

Signs everywhere said, quantities will be limited. The cases were only partially full, very partially. There were people from all walks of life. I met a man who had driven in from Nebraska, another from Michigan, some from hours away, some from around the corner. One person I met had come three different days and had not been able to purchase anything before they were sold out, he was hopeful today. His number was one before mine.

There was a seventy-nine year old man, who had lived a block away from the bakery his whole life, asking people for computer recommendations, especially young looking people as he was sure they would know which would be best for him, as well as how he could retrieve his passwords. One elderly lady received a text from her daughter that her first grandchild was just born, unexpectedly early, and as a result was so overjoyed she was hugging other customers. (it was a girl, they named her Kaitlin Marie, incase you are curious)

There were hispanics speaking swiftly as only the native tongue can do with a language meant for speed. Japanese women, charmingly demure as they took their paper ticket.  Large burly men, shorter hipster boy/men with fuzzy beards and acne. African americans with long, long dreadlocks, my grandson waved shyly at this particular gentleman, who responded with a shy smile of his own.

Thin folks, medium folks, large folks, and even larger folks. A small boy, named Harry, who was wearing a green fake fur jacket that was lime green with matching furry pants and dinosaur shields on his head, who would randomly say to his mother, who was holding a small pink baby in her arms, "jump!" and she would jump as though this was the most natural action in the world while waiting in a bakery full of the international village.

My darling, buddy of a grandson, watched it all in awe. He watched in his stroller for one hour and fifteen minutes. Then, I released him from the seat and he walked underneath, between and on people's toes to get to the bakery cases to point out to me the muffins saying "EAT, EAT, EAT!"

One customer, who had just finished her purchase and was attempting to leave the bakery took pity on him (and me) and gave him a bite of a donut. Glee doesn't even come close to describing his delight at finding food falling from heaven into his mouth.

One customer, who was finally called to the counter for her turn, found her wallet was missing. The staff, a skeleton crew, all stopped to help her, as did all of the people waiting. After it was determined the wallet was not there, the police were called, the person next inline covered the cost so the line could keep moving. The police arrived, questions were asked, the next steps were taken outside, so we shall never know how that story ends.

I could go on and on for all of the amazing things that happened yesterday morning, but I  won't.

What I will say is; everyone helped each other, making sure no number was missed, doors were opened, people entertained each other's children to help pass the time, no complained, no one pushed, no one was crying out of frustration,(not even the small children and babies waiting) only out of sadness as there wouldn't be another morning spent in this bakery again.

And finally, after driving the hour home, my daughters, daughter-in-law, grandson, sons and husband all enjoyed a piece of the Swedish bakery one last time, and it was delicious.

1 comment:

  1. Oh! Emily is pregnant?! So happy for her and for you all!


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