The Pepperidge Farm Store

by Ruth Z Deming

THE PEPPERIDGE FARM STORE

When my kids, Sarah and Dan, lived in the apartments, we would visit the Pepperidge Farm Store. The moment you'd enter the smells of sweetness would overcome you. Cinnamon, mostly, from their cinnamon swirl bread. I'd never buy it, though. It tasted of preservatives. Yuck!

Let me back up a moment. Today I was reading in My Reading Room, which you may remember used to be my daughter Sarah's bedroom. In one of my books LET IT BLEED by Stephen King or was it THE LIONS ON PARK AVENUE by Fiona Davis mention was made of "turnovers."

I put the book down on my chest - I lay on the checkered hide-a-bed from nearby Gamburg's in Hatboro, PA - covered over by an old green quilt - and let my mind wander back to the little shopping center which housed a Seven-Eleven convenience store, a Pepperidge Farm Thrift Store and a car rental.

If you're wondering what my beverage of choice is now, I am drinking in my Harry and Meghan wedding cup from 2018 some warmed-up V-8. It's so chilly outside - we had 8 inches of snow - so I'm composing in my furry hat plus a lovely gray and white striped dress with a quilted blue jacket with shoulder pads on top. The jazz station is on. And Scott and I completed lighting the 7 Chanukah candles in the hand-made wooden menorah of David Hunter.

I was quite poor back then, divorced from Mike, though my dad would often hand me a few twenty-dollar bills, which I'd use for necessary items. Luckily I didn't gamble it all away like David Ponzi did. Watched part of a documentary about this Italian immigrant on YouTube.

So inside the store we would go. And straight to the freezer in the back. The items must have come from far away so they were frozen. We'd have a tiny shopping basket and I'd load the items. Every time you went, different products would appear.

Turnovers: raspberry and lemon. My mouth is watering right now. A huge coconut cake with white icing.

Condensed chicken noodle soup and celery soup.

Remember their vichyssoise? One batch hadn't been boiled enough and many people died of botulism. What an awful word! Imagine how that felt to die such a painful death. Like the Covid-19 in these days of the pandemic. I am writing this on December 17, 2020. A relative of mine, Rich, got the covid and had never suffered so much in his life!

The check-out counter was near the door with its enormous windows where you could see into the parking lot and me looking at my car. Was it possibly the battered old LTD, a chocolate brown? In my family we always drove hand-me-down cars.

Now I've got my very own Nissan Sentra, which I bought second hand. It's wonderful in this cold weather. Starts right up!

When we got home to the apartments, we climbed up to apartment H-4 of Village Green, unloaded the groceries in the dark kitchen. I'd put a gold-colored carpet in there so our feet stayed warm and we hung up our coats on a tree hook I found in the Dumpster.

"We'll have turnovers," I announced.

"Yay," said the kids.

My mother had given me a toaster-oven and after opening up the frozen carton, I set the oven on 375 degrees, and in went three turnovers.

It was imperative that the delicacies were thoroughly heated. We awaited the lightly browned flaky crust that some master chef had baked. Spoiler alert: Sarah, though only 9 or 10, did become a master chef later in life, working as a sous-chef at Verbena restaurant in Manhattan. I'm proud to say that we all rose up in the world from poverty-stricken to making a go of it, Daniel Paul, too.

Although it makes no sense at all, I can smell the turnovers in the oven right now.

"Set the table?" I asked.

No problem. We had a set of Laura Ashley dishes from mom. A cute pattern of pink roses seemed to say: Fill me up with something delicious. Scrumptious.

We used paper towels as napkins and I probably turned on the radio to the classical music station and we were ready.

I poured out small glasses of milk for the kids, pouring some Hershey's chocolate syrup in their glasses since they didn't like regular milk.

They were both breast-fed children.

With great concentration, I swooned over the red raspberry turnover.

"Mmm!"

The kids agreed.

I thought about second helpings but forbad myself.

What could be better than this simple dessert.

It was now bedtime and I read to Dan. Sarah read one of her chapter books, and I read a library book that came in a canvas bag. Outside was the Pennsylvania Turnpike. We could hear the ringing of the tires that sounded like ocean waves.

What a life!

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