While I was in Fort Wayne two weekends ago, I retraced the very path that my grandparents and I used to take for cheese and doughnuts.
After crossing Third Street over to Wells Street, we would walk down the sidewalk - past 2nd Street, past 1st Street - and we would come across Richard's Bakery.
How to describe the baking smell coming from Richard's Bakery? I'm not eloquent enough - that's for sure. Let's just say - this place was in competition for best smell ever (with the bread people).
We would walk past the building (no, let's stop!) because grandpa said that glazed twisties would ruin our cheese sampling abilities.
We would round the corner and there would be the building that housed The Mouse House.
The Mouse House was the very last shop on this strip. The very last shop before you'd get ready to cross the old Wells Street Bridge.
We would walk in, and my grandparents would always be greeted by their names.
Wayne. Irene. How are you this fine spring morning?
I wasn't sure how they knew the folks who ran The Mouse House. I just know that every time we went in there, we were greeted like old friends. After sampling various cheese, we would walk out with at least one round of colby and a slab of another, unknown (to me) cheese.
We would walk back to Richard's Bakery and again - I would be greeted with that heavenly - please never leave me smell.
Again, my grandparents would be greeted by their first names. While I would stick my nose against the see through glass display mmmmm - doughnuts...mmmmm - pastries..... they would chit chat about everything and anything.
My grandpa would get his cake doughnut. I always got the glazed twisties. My grandma would get something with a filling in it.
The walk home always seemed longer than the walk there. Just cause I wanted to eat my doughnut - right there!
To distract myself, I chatted. (Chatting = forgetting the glaze part of the twistie - but only momentarily).
Me: How come we always walk down to the bakery and the cheese shop to get doughnuts and cheese? It's easier if we just pick up this stuff when we shop at the grocery store.
Grandma: Well because Krissie. These are honest folks, trying to make a living for themselves and their families. They put their heart into what they sell and I know that they wouldn't sell us anything that they wouldn't want their own families to have.
Grandpa: Not exactly. I think what your grandma is trying to say is that we think it is important to patronize local establishments - family owned businesses. Many years ago, before you were born, that used to be the way of life. Bakeries, and cheese shops, and drug stores, and shoe stores...they all used to be owned and run by the families who lived in the community. Back then, everybody knew everybody and that's the way it was. When we moved to this neighborhood and we saw that there were some of these places close by, we made sure to visit them and give them our business.
Me: How come not more of these places exist?
Grandpa: Everybody is in a hurry these days. They want everything now, without waiting. These shopping centers popped up with national chains and people drive out to get what they want. Most family businesses don't stock up what you'd find in K-Mart and Murphy's.
Me: Well grandpa, we're only in a hurry because there's so many things we have to do!
Grandpa: When you get older, you might see things differently...