Tuesday, January 17, 2017


A Church of the Open Road

My father was an honorable, honest and straightforward man – except when it came to cookies.  Mom was a prodigious cookie baker often producing double and quadruple batches of Toll Houses or Gingersnaps in an effort to ensure our classic, fired-clay cookie jar was always full.  She was famous in the neighborhood.

As a letter carrier, Dad would leave for work before sunrise and pedal home at around 3:00.  Having been on his feet all day, he’d collapse in his chair for a thirty-minute siesta then rise to go prospecting for a snack.  Ever bountiful, the cookie jar was a virtual Mother Lode – one that would never disappoint.  There was a drawback, however.  It seems the clinking of the fired-clay lid back down on the fired-clay jar resonated like a pick’s head on bedrock, often alerting Mom that someone was fixing to ruin his appetite within an hour or so of dinner.  Raging invectives would follow from the sewing room or the laundry. Nabbed in the act, Dad would sheepishly slip the Snickerdoodle back into the jar and sneak away to partake in a pipeful of Half-n-Half out on the back patio or in the den.  There, he’d sit quietly puffing and contemplating.

Apparently, he eventually contemplated this:  On the counter near the cookie jar was a stand-up holder for paper napkins.  If, armed with a four-fold napkin, he could carefully lift the jar lid, snatch a nugget or two from within, lay the napkin atop the jar and gently replace the lid, then he could slide the napkin out and the lid would settle silently into place. 

At some point, spying him lumber into the kitchen after his nap, I peeked around the doorway and caught Dad returning a napkin to the holder.  It didn’t take me long to realize what was going on and that I could use this information to – what’s the word I’m looking for? – blackmail him.  Thus, every day for months and months – maybe a year or more – Dad and I enjoyed a smuggled cookie about an hour before dinner.

One day, however, Dad screwed up.  As we tittered and snacked and he congratulated himself over his shrewd and refined ability to continually outsmart Mom, he must have forgotten to slip the napkin out from between the lid and the jar.  Mom obviously discovered this, but said nothing.  Instead, the by the very next day, mysteriously, napkin holder disappeared from the counter.

And for the remainder of his time on this planet, Dad never figured out where that napkin holder went.

© 2017
Church of the Open Road Press


  1. That's a good story, thanks for sharing. In our household my Mom was at work, grading papers and what not for her 4th graders. Dad worked the farm until about 2 or 3, then came home and had a beer and started dinner unless the ball game was on the radio. Even then he'd eventually get things rolling. Snacking wasn't really an issue; anything we could reach was pretty much fair game up until we got old enough to help with dinner. Then we apprenticed as chefs and snacked on the makings.

  2. I do believe I remember sneaking cookies for The Old Timer a generation later...

  3. Why else would she make cookies? So people could sneak them and she could get angry. In Bills case, he snuck way too many. I think all of the grandkids snuck cookies and I am sure we have the napkin holder somewhere, in a box. The cookie jar is in our kitchen.

    1. Can't say I doubt it. I never understood the value of a cookie if you couldn't eat the damned thing...

    2. At some point did it become a fun game... but none of us realized it was a fun game because of her cantankerous personality?? ...having some of her genes and bring a mother myself, I think this is a strong possibility.

  4. This just made me chuckle. Thank you again for sharing.