The Way It Was


Editor’s note: This is another column in Bill Boyd’s new series, “The Way It Was,” about growing up in Marysville. Bill continues to work with the Union County Historical Society to obtain information for his stories. With Marysville and Union County celebrating Bicentennial anniversaries in 2019 and 2020, respectively, these articles help depict what life was like in those early years.
Randall’s Bakery
It was sometime in the summer of 1940 or 1941, when we moved from West Fifth Street to a house on South Court Street. That was pretty exciting for me, because I had spent my whole life in that Fifth Street house. In fact I was born there. So the move was going to be an adventure, and I looked forward to it.
Besides, one of my best friends was a kid named Dick Foley, and he lived on Ninth Street, only a couple hundred yards or so from our new address. I knew the two of us would have a lot of fun together, and I was excited about that.
The house we were moving to was located right next door to Randall’s Bakery. When I say “right next door” that’s exactly what I mean. There was only about two or three feet between the bakery and our house. That kind of proximity had both advantages and disadvantages, as I would find out over time. (The site of Randall’s Bakery later became the Court Street Grocery owned by Chet Baker and later by the Cooper twins. The building has since been torn down and is a vacant lot. Randall’s Bakery moved downtown for several years to East Fifth Street about where Whit’s is today.)
On the day we moved, the movers carried all the stuff into the house and placed the big pieces of furniture where they were needed. Then my sister and I spent the day moving boxes around and carrying things up and down the stairway. By the end of the day, we were both really bushed, so we went to bed a little earlier than usual.
I slept like a log that night, and when I woke up around 6 a.m., I can’t tell you what a surprise it was. That’s because my bedroom was only about 20 or 30 feet from the bakery’s kitchen, where all the baking was done. That heavenly smell of freshly baked goods wafted its way into my bedroom. It’s hard for me to explain what a surprise that wonderful smell was.
It was like that six days a week, as long as we lived in that house. It made no difference what they were baking … pies, cakes, rolls or bread. I loved it. And every now and then, instead of eating my mother’s bacon and eggs for breakfast, I would go next-door and buy a pineapple roll, which was still nice and warm. I would take it home and wolf it down with a glass of milk at our kitchen table.
But as I mentioned earlier, there were also some disadvantages to living so close to the bakery. You see, bakers start their day really early, around 4 a.m. This gives them time to get all the mixing and preparation completed for whatever they are going to bake that morning. They do all that before they start to heat the ovens.
Normally, this was not a problem, but once every now and then, a couple of those bakers would sing. I’m not talking about the soft kind of singing you might do as you washed the dishes. I’m talking about really loud slinging, the kind you might do if you were part of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. I mean, those guys really belted it out, at the top of their lungs. The singing usually began around 5 a.m. and you wouldn’t believe how their voices carried, right through my window screen and into my bedroom.
They usually sang popular songs, tunes that the big bands were currently playing on the radio. I think the biggest music hit that year was a song called “Chattanooga Choo Choo.” All the big bands recorded it, but the biggest hit was the version by Glenn Miller. Disc jockeys played it over and over, as did the jukebox in Butler’s back room.
But as good as he was, I wouldn’t want Glen Miller in my bedroom at 5 a.m. So you can imagine how I felt about those two guys next door in their white aprons and baker caps.
They even made up their own song once, and they sang it often … often enough that I can still remember some of the words … “We are Randall’s little bakers, from the land of pies and cakes.” I can’t remember the rest of that song, but I think you can imagine what it was like dealing with that so early in the morning.
All in all, I remember those days with great fondness. Sure, it wasn’t easy dealing with those “singing bakers,” but that wonderful smell every morning made it all worthwhile.
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