Friday, December 5, 2008


Ola Schnepp used to make the best custard pies and, her sister-in-law, Maud, turned out the best apple pies in the county. There was a big apple tree in the back corner of the orchard that grew green apples just for her pies. Treva Schnepp, another member of the family, was pretty good with blueberries but Barbara Schnepp was the cake maker.

She was my Girl Scout leader. She made cakes for every occasion; weddings, funerals, church suppers and family reunions. But one memorable cold winter night she made the cake of all cakes for the PTA Cakewalk. I gasped as I beheld the beautiful blue angel food cake with icing dripping down the sides like icicles. There were other lovely cakes on the table that night but Barbara Schnepp’s angel food wonder stood out like a crown jewel on top of the old black piano where Mrs. Hopkins sat playing. I stood there drooling as that cake shimmyed to the music.

There was a long line of people who had dropped a dime in the glass jar for a chance to walk the big chalk circle with numbers drawn on the floor. My dad slipped me a dime and told me to get in line. We had come in late so the line was pretty long. I screwed up my eyes tight and made a million wishes as people took their turns ahead of me. Mrs. Sabin’s chocolate cake went, then Mrs. Kellicut’s special cake was gone, Mrs. Heinline’s carrot cake, the cake with the chocolate chips on top, but the crown jewel was still there on the piano! I couldn’t stand still. I wiggled while I jumped up and down until I felt my mother’s hand on my shoulder assigning me to the ground. And, of course, I had to pee but I knew I could hold it until my turn came. I thought it would never come. But it did. I ran out onto the circle with sweet sugar visions in my head. The music started to play and around and around we walked. I was in heaven.

The gods smiled down on me that night as I walked the circle and won the last cake of the night. THE cake.

Driving home I sat between my parents in the front seat of the old green station wagon with that huge cake on my lap. I felt like a million bucks. Six brothers and sisters were hanging over the seat licking their lips and sneaking a finger toward the cake for ‘just a little taste.”

Getting out of the car I held the cake high over my head and ran as fast as I dared while my brothers held off our dog, Suzie, who thought she was one of us kids and entitled to her share of everything we had. Dad brought out the butcher knife and made a big show of sharpening it on the wet stone while Mom got out the plates. Suzie danced around the table while we kids sat around arguing who would get the biggest piece. That was a no brainer. I did!


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