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Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Wedding cake for a cat

Another favorite family story:

In some ways Blondie was to me what Hobbs was for Calvin. Only my tiger was alive. Those who hate cats don't know how cool cats really are. Just like dogs, cats are quite different from one another. I was a latchkey kid before the term was invented, and Blondie was my companion. She sought me out and liked to be stroked by her friend. Or she might feel the necessity of grooming me with her rough and tireless tongue.

This episode begins with my bachelor uncle Walter. His sisters (my mother and aunties) were convinced that he would remain a bachelor all his life, but he surprised everyone and proposed to Mary Smiley. Yes, that was her name, and it seemed to be descriptively appropriate for her. She was a little older than he, and for several reasons, theirs was the wedding of the year for this family. Everyone made a big fuss over it. Everyone wanted to have a part in it.

Since grandpa Saumert was a professional baker, he was asked to make the cake. Those were post-depression days, and our stove was the only one in the family that would accommodate the large pans needed for the lower levels of the cake. Consequently grandpa did the baking at our house. A couple days before the wedding our home was filled with the lovely odors of cake baking. Grandpa carefully laid out the layers on our dining room table to cool overnight. Newsprint contained sanitary ink and so were spread over the cake layers. Well, it turns out that although newsprint may discourage germs and vermin, it was not enough to discourage Blondie. She was a house cat, and she did not sleep in my bed every night. This night the attractive smell of wedding cake cooling in the night was too much for her to ignore. In the morning it was discovered that she had tasted each of the layers, and for good measure was found comfortably curled up on one of them. My parents went berserk. The cat was banished, but the damage had been done. And tonight was the wedding!

Dad took the assignment of picking up grandpa and explaining the tragedy to him so he could plan a repair--and calm down a bit before he arrived. Grandpa was an emotional artist, and there was some fear of his reaction. But first of all, he was a professional. He rose to the occasion and immediately mixed a large batch of marzipan. He deftly filled the bitten holes in each layer, fitted the cake together, and viola! We saw nothing but a beautiful wedding cake.

Mom and I made a few knowing remarks about the delicious cake at the reception, but it was a closely guarded family secret for many years. I don't know if my aunt Mary and uncle Walt ever knew about this. If any guests were allergic to cats, it was not evident by the voracious consumption of this pastry.

1 comment:

  1. No, I don't think my Mom or Dad did know. The only story I remember hearing about the wedding cake was that several people pitched in with ration coupons to buy the sugar. The wedding was just after the war was over so rationing was still in. I love that you called it "the wedding of the year" for your family. It was an unusual one. I think it was a surprise on both sides of the family! I'm glad it happened though.