This is the 3rd story in the Objects as Waypoints series.
Coal River Road, St. Albans, WV
38° 22’ 55.02”N, 81° 51’ 37.404”W
When the box arrived on our doorstep, Grandmother called her best friend, Ora, who showed up soon after. In the kitchen, they opened the box to see what they had painstakingly chosen and ordered from a novelty catalog weeks earlier.
One thousand daisy shaped plastic key chains in a variety of neon colors glowed from the box with possibility.
Imprinted on each was her signature tagline and name, “Cakes For All Occasions DOROTHY A. BRYAN” in metallic gold on a black background in the center of each daisy. Grandmother was a 1970s marketing genius.
. . .
Before Dorothy was a Bryan, she was a Davis and in the 1940s she honed her cake decorating skills at several bakeries before striking out on her own with D. Bryan’s Sweet Shop in the 1950s.
When she outgrew the home based bakery, she and Ora opened the Kountry Kitchen on Walnut Street in town. Because of her cake artistry, the governor’s office chose her to bake a 250 lb. cake for the celebration of WV’s Centennial in 1963.
Some years later, she closed the shop and went to nursing school.
Right before graduation, she had emergency gallbladder surgery. During recovery, Granddad promised her a new car if she would forget about being a nurse.
Mom tells me today Grandmother once told her she grew to hate that car.
. . .
By the 1970s, Grandmother was back in business based in her home kitchen. When I asked her why she decorated cakes, she said, “Two reasons. One, I love who I am when I make something beautiful, and two, I make my own ‘pin money.’”
I had to look it up. It’s money given to a wife from her husband as an allowance. This was my first lesson in irony. Or was it sarcasm? Maybe a little of both.
She used that money to buy those key chains, much to Granddad’s chagrin.
. . .
The daisy I keep has lost its luster, the black center scratched, and the chain absent.
I keep it with me in my car where I can see it. It’s as if she’s riding right beside me.