Just off of Circuit Ave, in Oak Bluffs, on Martha's Vineyard, is the Old Stone Bakery. Like so many of the things on the island, it's an old fashion, stereotype shop. It has the tile floor, the glass display cases for the fresh donuts, and big rack of shelves behind them for still more sweet treats. My mother always loved to get their fresh loafs of French bread. We used to say: she had to buy two loafs, one to bring home, and one to eat on the way!
Myself, I loved their donuts, I could just about live on them - and this was long before "Krispy Kreme" came along. But, the place had one very special item; they had apple fritters to die for. Now, I was never partial to any apple dish beyond apple sauce; I didn't even like apple pie. I've always been more of a blueberry kind of guy. I know how can I be a good, red-blooded American and not love apple pie?
Now, bakeries have to do a lot of work late at night and early in the morning, which makes sense. When the customers come in bright and early in the morning for their coffee, donuts, bear claws, and so on, the stuff has to be fresh; which is why I could never work in a bakery! But I digress. The bakery would cook up their apple fritters late at night, and the first batch would usually be ready right around midnight. Of course, the smell wafting out the back door of their shop was downright mouth-watering. It wasn't long before people starting tapping on the back door and asking about the fritters. Eventually, this developed into a tradition: when that first batch of fritters was ready, free samples would be handed out to anyone waiting out back.
The funny thing was, I never went there. At first, I was too young to be out at midnight. Then, by the time I was, I had a job as a dishwasher, and was working late into the evening. Still, as I didn't much care for them, I didn't see it as a big loss.
Then, I brought then-girlfriend Jo Ann to the island for a visit, and my brother Stephen made the suggestion that we amble on down to the bakery for a free fritter. Once again, I had no real interest in going, but Jo Ann was intrigued, and this was one of Steve's favourite treats. So, I made like I wanted to go, and off we went in his car. He parked on one of the back roads, and we walked down to the bakery. As usual, he left his keys in the car. On the island, such things were of no concern. After all, you steal a car, where are you going to go?
Anyway, we stood there, waiting our turn, and the smell of those fritters certainly caught my attention. We finally got ours, and I got my first taste of one. I had no idea what I'd been missing! But, we made the place a regular stop for the remainder of our visit.
And then, just recently, we returned to the island. No, we didn't get to stop by for another fritter, but I did glance down the alley one day as we drove to the post office. At the back door of the bakery, they had set up a sign and display. It seemed the days of free fritters were gone. Like so much in our world, someone had seen the potential for profit, and now they were selling those midnight fritters.
I couldn't help but be a little saddened.
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Combining the gimlet-eye, of Philip Roth, with the precisive mind of Lionel Trilling, AJ Robinson writes about what goes bump in the mind, of 21st century adults. Raised in Boston, with summers on Martha's Vineyard, AJ now lives in Florida. Most of the time he writes, but sometimes he works at Disney World to renew his fantasies and get a few dollars more. AJ writes, with insight and passion, about his family and his dog. His liberal, note the small "l," sensibilities often lead to bouts of righteous indignation, well focused and true.
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