Bread Baking


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When we lived at 663 South Market, we were becoming a good-sized family- a real Italian family. There was my mother and father, my sister Rose, Uncle Louie, Aunt Concetta, Aunt Rose, Aunt Anna, and my mother's parents, Grandpa and Grandma Liguori. My uncle Elia was married at that time and he and his wife and two children, Jean and Mickey, occupied the second-floor rear apartment. They were always included in the family affairs.

We kept the old Italian traditions, which were instilled in us in Italy, and we were happy to do so. We seemed to manage fairly well in America, although we were constantly trying to adjust to the new way of life.

My grandmother, recognizing the great expense it takes to maintain such a large family, decided to bake her own bread in order to keep family expenses to a minimum. Since everyone in our family were great bread eaters, she turned to the art of making bread, as they were accustomed to doing in Italy.

She would start the process from scratch and make four loaves of Italian bread dough about the size of four large pizzas- about three or four inches thick. I had the job of taking these loaves to an Italian bakery located about a mile and one-half from our home, near East Side High School. In order to transport the bread, we constructed a small 3 x 3 flat board wagon. We would use a cover to tie down the loaves and prevent any slippage in route.

The trip to the bakery was no problem in good weather, but on rainy days, I had to time my runs between cloudbursts. The winter months were much more of a problem. I had to tow my loaded sleigh, with a rope tied around my elbows over uneven snow levels and avoid the ruts in the road, all the while combating the weather on the long journey to the bakery.

Many times, I would start out warm and comfortable, and about half way, I would start to feel a numbness in my hands and feet. I remember icicles hanging from my nose and head, my eyes tearing, my nose running. Even my ears were frozen, despite wearing earmuffs, which extended down from my hat. Gloves were almost useless, and my low-cut rubbers were good in only one or two inches of snow, not six or eight.

There were days when the snow was falling heavily, that I would just barely make it to the bakery. Some days the bakery personnel would see me coming and run out and help me to come in and warm up. I remember once the temperature was way below its normal range, and my fingers were frozen so stiff that they put me near the big oven and kept my hands in ice in order to get the circulation going again. But that was only one time.