Sweet Memories

It has become quite trendy these days to title books, The ———‘s Daughter. You may have read some of these with the Lightkeeper’s, the Preacher’s, and even the Duke’s daughter. This February writing is from the Breadman’s daughter. You may not have picked up on this before, but I am a breadman’s daughter. My daddy needed (not kneaded) the dough! He did not make all the wonderful bakery products that were made by Jones Bakery, but he delivered them. Jones Bakery was a big part of my childhood in the late forties and fifties; so quite naturally when I recently ran up on a couple of pictures of Mr. James Jones, who managed the bakery here in Sylacauga, the sweet memories of those times infused my mind like the yeast that made that Golden Krust Bread smell and taste so good. The building still stands there on Broadway, and I often wish that I could go inside and buy a nickel coke or better yet a dozen of those warm doughnuts that were made right there, or even better, pick up some vibes from the dear people who worked there in the 40’s and 50’s. Mr. James Jones’ brother, Sydney Jones, started the bakery in Talladega on the Square, and Daddy made a trip there every morning, leaving our house somewhere around 4 o’clock to pick up the bread, that in later years was made there instead of in Sylacauga. I loved riding in that old bread truck with him because he either bought my breakfast while he was loading the truck, or we arrived back home in time for breakfast. Just being with my daddy was fun, and even now, early morning is my favorite time of the day. Later Lonnie and James were involved in the Talladega operation.
Mr. James Jones was a kind man, the kind of man that loved and understood a busy, little girl. I am certain that I was a pesky little girl, but I learned that after I grew up and had children. I never learned it from him. He and his wife Edith had two children, Pat, a pretty girl like her mother, and Jimmy, named for his daddy. The bakery staff included Mr. Jones’ sister, Ethel Smelley, Margie Waites, Mae Green, and later other members of the Waites’ family, Betty Waites Price and her husband Charlie. Betty and Charlie later opened a bakery some years after Jones Bakery closed. It was on Hwy 21 in the shopping center next to Buy Wise Drugs. I am guessing that some of you remember these folks. It was Mr. James’ brother, Tommy, and his wife who opened and operated The Coffee Pot Café across the street for many years. The bakery employees were honest, hard-working people who each had their own expertise as they worked together to provide bread including hamburger and hotdog buns and French bread, , all kinds of cookies, fruit pies, pecan and coconut pies, Boston Cream Pies, and the previously mentioned doughnuts! It was all yummy. Ms. Ethel decorated beautiful birthday and wedding cakes, and the fifties’ prices were reasonable, but money was short. You may remember the beautiful cake, a replica of First Baptist Church, that was made right there, an example of a speciality cakes that Ms. Ethel and staff could make.
There were lots of things that Mr. Jones and staff would let me do if I stayed there while Daddy was making a delivery. The boxes that held the cakes, buns, and pies had to be folded and put together, and that would keep me busy and puffed up with importance. Stacking them in high columns was lots of fun. If I scrubbed my hands really clean, Miss Mae would let me put the hot dog and hamburger buns in the boxes, a dozen in each box. Occasionally, I might get the offer of a doughnut or a gingerbread cookie, but I had been well lectured that I should not ask for these offerings, and that I should say the proper thanks if I was on the receiving in of such a kindness. Mr. Jones also had a small office with a slanted desk that contained a manual adding machine, the old fashioned kind in which you inserted the numbers and pulled the handle down to add. He allowed me on many occasions to play office with his adding machine. (I told you that he understood a little girl). There are sweet memories of this kind man who was a manager at the Avondale athletic club and heavily involved in Golden Glove boxing.
Interesting people came into the bakery, people like Maybelle Marbury who parched her peanuts in the big oven in the back. She sold these wonderful smelling bags of peanuts at Legion Stadium on Monday and Friday nights at the ball game. She would not sell anyone a bag there at the bakery, but sometimes she would let this little girl reach down into that big gunny sack and get a handful.
Sweet memories of growing up when Sylacauga had a bakery. People were sweeter then, too! Think about it. Maybe folk would be happier today to eat an occasional bakery treat instead of slurping those 20 oz. drinks. Meanwhile, I hope you have sweet memories of those long ago and faraway days, and I trust you are making things “sweeter” right here right now! Next time, I will continue to write about Jones Bakery because I now have a little more real history of the bakery and some neat pictures sent to me by the former Pat Brannen Jones, Mr. James Jones’ daughter. Many thanks to Janet Jones Vawter for connecting me with her after all these years.