It is said that we are not to become too attached to the material things of this life. What matters are not "things" but people, love, kindness, compassion, empathy and all the emotions that belong to humanity.
There is a black velour hoodie sweatshirt that hangs on the bedpost in my girls room and has been there since 2004. I do not have any attachment to sweatshirts period. My attached is to the young woman who wore that sweatshirt. The sweatshirt reminds me of a beautiful soul, with a contagious smile and laugh that left us tragically too soon. I don't need the sweatshirt to stir my memories of her. It has long ago lost her scent as I have had to wash it from the dust. But, it remains hanging on the bedpost.
I suppose you are wondering what all of this has to do with a blog on Snowflake Chocolates website.
Recently, we said goodbye to a good and faithful friend of the material kind. As pictured our steady, faithful, reliable cream beater. Our cream beater was manufactured sometime 100 years ago by Savage Brothers in Chicago. My grandfather purchased this beater used around 1947.
Somehow this monster beater (weighing in at 1,121 pounds) found it's way into the basement candy kitchen (as pictured) of my grandparent's row house home. I am unsure of the year this picture was taken. But I can assure you that we no longer beat creams with cigars hanging from our mouths. From there it would move to the the Pollak's Candy shop on Prospect Street in Etna, Pennsylvania. It knew the hands of my grandfather, his brother Joe and his employee Forrest before it would eventually be replaced by a larger beater and moved into a storage garage across town. I cannot even begin to imagine how this machine was moved from place to place knowing the spaces it was in.
Many years later this cream beater would be resurrected from it's storage place in an old garage to be moved to Vermont and become a part of Snowflake Chocolates. Never in a million years, if you had told my Grandpap that this beater would find a home in his oldest son's candy shop would he have believed you.
And so it came to rest just inside the doors of our candy kitchen sometime around 1990. What a difference this beater would make for beating creams. It would replace the old hand shovel on the table method my father was using at the time. So very old but so very useful for many years. I looked at this cream beater every day of my candy working life. It has seen the hands of my father, my brother, my son, my nephews, my sister, myself and a few others over time. Many a family and business conversation was held over this beater. Those conversations could be simple, or emotional and everything in between. I suppose I speak for all of us when I say it is good that it cannot talk. It was always a solid reminder in it's own way of the strength and hard work it took to build this business in Vermont and the business in Pittsburgh before us.
It was quirky and needed a gentle hand on occasion. Fixed here and there, jury rigged to keep it going with oil and what not. It was a main stay in the kitchen. As solid as the man who brought it here and used it. Like a cranky old man it worked most of the time but occasionally needed an attitude adjustment.
It was recently moved to place a new floor underneath it and that my friends would ultimately lead to it's demise. Seems rather simple to lift a machine and put it back. But, our dearly loved ancient beater was comfortable in it's place held stable by decades of oil and sugar. Like most of us old people when we sit for a long time and then move, sometimes things stretch or pop and life is never quite the same. I can honestly say I don't remember the last batch of creams that was made on the beater but I'm sure my father and son can.
The time had come to retire old iron sides. An order was placed and we awaited the arrival of a new beater holding our breath that our faithful friend could just hold on until the new one arrived. It feels like a betrayal when I walk back and see this shiny new stainless steel beater complete with hoses and electronics. Sometimes I just want to whisper "Show off". New is not always better as we all know when computerized electronic parts fritz on us every day in life. How simple it was to just bang on the side of the TV to fix it? Or argue over who has to get up and change the channel. Now we sit with a remote in our hands just trying how to learn how to turn the darn thing on. This is how I feel about the cream beater when I look at it. And I don't even work in the kitchen and use it.
Alas, the day came when our friend sat sitting in the driveway waiting for it's next journey. This trusty machine will find it's way up to Canada somewhere to be recycled and come back as a strong proud beam in a new building. There will be little thought to the life it led as it turns back to molten iron.
I looked at this beater in the driveway and found myself ridiculously choked up. I snapped this picture because I was so moved. In this machine is my Grandpap and a thousand memories. Our trips to the candy shop when we were little. Bouncing down the stairs all four of us like a pack of puppies. Tripping over each other, we would stop at the dipping room to say hello to Grandma and Teti as they dipped clusters by hand. Then on the the kitchen to say hello to Grandpap. The mysterious kitchen full of machines, tables and stoves. Mysterious because we were not allowed past a certain line in the floor. My grandfather, white apron covered in chocolate and various other ingredients, a quick pat on the head with a smile followed by a gruff "Get these kids the hell outta here". There was work to be done. A look at this machine and I can smell cigar smoke and chocolate. One of the most amazing scents ever.
So back to this cream beater and the black velour sweater. I don't need either one of these "things" to conjure up the memories of the people I loved so dearly and genuinely with my whole heart. But like the people I have lost.... I will miss them.
Farewell our good and faithful cream beater friend. You have served our family well. May our secret conversations melt with you into liquid iron and like you may our love for this family and this business continue to be reborn through generations to come.