The Scent of Butternut Bakery

Iris with Holly of Butternut Bakery, 10 Mile and Van Dyke, Warren, Michigan
Kicking up dusty memories quickens one’s curiosity and hunger. We want to know Who, What, When, Where, Why.
        This Tuesday morning, memory called me to such a quest. I packed a lunch and set my car’s radio on 90.9 FM. My nose pointed south into the blue sky, down the Van Dyke expressway to the Oboe Concerto by Charles Fernandez.
        Beautiful. What more could my heart desire?
        Real people with answers to my questions.
        I stopped my car before 25708 Wagner, my parents’ first mortgage in 1957. I was eight.
        The 900 square foot red brick ranch still has no landscaping to boast. Someone added a wooden porch and stonework to the right of the front door. A two-car garage had replaced Dad’s one car with a patio along the north side—his pride and joy painted white with red trim.
        The same gate that broke off the cap from my front tooth splayed open. No car or tire tracks in the driveway.
        I didn’t ring the doorbell for fear someone would answer. I’d probably ask if they’ve ever peeked into the attic. If so, did they find a trace of my Teddy Bear?
        The white brick house two doors up was the reason for my visit. I couldn’t remember if June and Lou Williams, our only neighbors who didn’t have children, lived two or three doors up.
        What does it matter?
        A lot. Once, Aunt June popped popcorn just for her and me. She taught me to weed around Jack in the Pulpit in her gardens—Paradise in the midst of our naked, new subdivision.
        On I drove south past what was my school for seven years. My sisters and I walked with kids on our block to Wolcott Elementary School. It’s long been some factory with no name on the building.
        I parked in front of the Van Dyke Public Schools Administration building. A woman sat behind a bulletproof window and buzzed in a deliveryman. I smelled popcorn. She apologized for the distraction and eating lunch at her desk.
        “Do you have student records from Wolcott Elementary School? Class composites and report cards?” I asked.
        “No, I’m sorry. All the old records were destroyed.”
        “Destroyed? As if the students and staff never existed?” I caught us both off guard.
        “You can stop by Lincoln High School for your transcripts,” she said.

        As I drove north on Van Dyke, my teenage stomping grounds in Dad’s 1959 Dodge, the taste of a cream donut caught in my throat.
        A spontaneous turn just south of Ten Mile, I walked into a place that had not changed in fifty years. I eyed the cream donut. “How much?”
        “One dollar.”
        Dear Reader, the scent of Butternut Bakery filled my car for the long drive home. I rejoiced that in 1967 the lunch hour donut run fell to the bank employee with least seniority.
        Then, I waited and saved for college tuition. Now, I wait for my high school transcripts. Kick up dusty memories. Savor my comfort food.