Special Mother's Day Week Edition...
Being that this is the week to celebrate mothers, I thought you'd enjoy this personal story. My mom's name was Rosalie. That's her on the left in the above photo. Her younger sister, (Aunt) Lucille, is on the right. Their brother was (Uncle) Mill. My grandmother, Sarah, was ahead of her time: she was into health, she played piano and had her own dance studio where mom and Lucille developed their entertainer skills. Sarah also sewed and made costumes for the dancers.
The above photo is from 1930. Mom (on the right) and Lucille were 13 and 11 respectively, and had an act that they performed as part of a variety show with grown-up entertainers. The Singerman Sisters (as they were known) went on the road (yeah, grandma Sarah trusted them do that!), and from what I've been told (having never seen the act), they were pretty darned good!
Born to Conduct...
Here I am, not yet a year old, and it looks like I'm conducting an orchestra. (Little did I know how prescient this photo was, as in December 2000, I did indeed conduct our volunteer pit orchestra playing the music I wrote for The Snow Queen Ballet at the Glendale Community College Performing Arts Auditorium!) At the time of the above photo, our family lived on Jolley Drive in Burbank, across the street from Thomas Jefferson Elementary School, where I would later attend kindergarten and part of 1st grade. I was the youngest in our family and had two older sisters. Mom's sister, Lucille, also had 3 kids, a boy (the oldest) and 2 girls. They lived in Baldwin Hills just north of Rodeo Road (not to be confused with Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills) and went to Baldwin Hills Elementary School. All six of us kids were born within a 4-year span.
Just as life was going along more or less as expected, tragedy struck. Mom got cancer and died not long after. Unbeknownst to me, my dad had divorced mom and left us kids up for adoption. I think I was about 7 at the time. My sisters and I were going to be split up and put in orphanages! Wow. Then, a miracle happened that I didn't really appreciate until many years later: mom's sister, Lucille, and her husband, Joe, adopted all 3 of us kids into their family! Looking back at that decision, it's hard to conceive the financial and personal burdens such an act of love would bring to bear. But happen it did and Lucille and Joe became our new mom and dad. And having an older brother and 2 more sisters was pretty cool, especially when we already knew each other well as cousins! It didn't hurt that my new brother, Jay, turned out to be quite a musician, singer, songwriter and music teacher! I learned a lot from him.
Welcome to Hollywood!
How did my new mom manage 6 kids? She sent us to dance school to learn ballet and tap, and got us all into the Children's Screen Actors Guild (CSAG)! She also created a different "show" for us to perform each year for our family's New Year's Eve party. Soon each of us was getting called for auditions for film, TV and voice-over parts. On one occasion, all 6 of us kids were cast as school-kid extras in an episode of The Fugitive! Individually, we got parts as well: my sister Maureen was in Hitchcock's classic, The Birds; brother Jay was in a dream sequence in Pressure Point starring Sidney Poitier and Bobby Darin. (I remember Jay was on the set for 2 weeks for a scene that lasted about 30 seconds.)
As for me, I was in an episode of Ben Casey and an extra in a made-for-TV movie, Lollipop Louie, starring Aldo Ray. But my most memorable part was playing a Cub Scout in an episode of Mister Ed! Our troop was visiting the zoo; Ed had run away from Wilbur's house, leaned up against a freshly-painted black fence, and tried to blend in with the zebras! Of course, us scouts could see that Ed stood out like a sore thumb! (Can you guess which scout is me?)
Of course, once people find out I was on the set of Mister Ed, the conversation turns to how Ed was made to "talk." Most folks have bought into the legend that peanut butter was used. But I was there and saw the whole thing. (At this point, I could say, "Come to Breadness this weekend to pick up a gift and I'll tell you how they got Mister Ed to talk." But I'm not going to do that.) The in-studio set had a wooden floor with an eye-screw attached directly in line with Ed's mouth. A wire loop was loosely attached to Ed's mouth and it was routed through the eye-screw to about 15 feet across the soundstage where the "voice of Ed" sat with the script in front of him. The other end of the wire ran through a second eye-screw and was attached to a loop handle. As the voice actor read Ed's parts, he would lightly pull the handle up which caused Ed to move his mouth. Ed was well-trained to do this as evidenced by watching the show and believing that Ed is actually speaking! (Note: The wire was sprayed with a dulling agent that kept it from showing up on the finished film.)
The above drawing was featured on the cover of the Baldwin Hills Elementary School yearbook for the graduating class of '65 (which included me). The seeds of a graphic design career were already sprouting. This cover also featured a poem I'd written; the beginnings of what would contribute to my future work as a songwriter and music producer.
One of the highlights of attending BHE was hangin' out with Danny Elfman, a friendship that would continue through Audubon Junior High as we both explored music and dramatic arts; Danny in drama class playing lead roles, and myself in orchestra playing the Tams-Witmark scores for the Broadway shows our school put on each semester (like Bye Bye Birdie and Flower Drum Song). Danny would later go on to join his brother Rick's performing troupe, The Mystic Knights of the Oingo Boingo which Danny would eventually re-tool into Oingo Boingo, one of the most exciting and edgy new wave bands of the late 70s/early 80s. Danny continued his musical journey to reach the rarefied air of A-list film score composers, as well as writing songs and performing in classic films by Tim Burton.
Meanwhile, I took advantage of Audubon's Industrial Arts classes and acquired skills in woodworking, metalwork, drafting, typesetting and printing, plastics molding/laminating and hand-tooled leatherwork. These skills enabled me to create a recording studio from the ground up, and a bakery!
The above photo of myself and Danny was taken at the second day of festivities for the Baldwin Hills Elementary School classes of '65/'66 reunion... that's right... an elementary school reunion! (There were over 80 people in attendance!).
This is one of the best photos I have showing Joe, Lucille and us kids. I'm actually the center of attention as the occasion was my Bar Mitzvah party (which was held at Uncle Mill's house). For the record, from left to right, my first sisters Robin and Michele, Joe, me, Lucille, Francie (who got me off the hook of being the youngest in the family) Maureen and Jay. Mom is wearing a tiara, befitting of the queen she truly was. It took me years to appreciate how she managed to raise all of us kids (we were little rebels wanting to spread our wings long before we were of legal age). But the values she instilled in us and the arts she encouraged us to explore (and the healthy meals she prepared) are a part of everything I've chosen to do in my life.
Although Lucille lived to be 96, see didn't get to taste my sourdough bread, nor see the opening of Random Acts of Breadness. But the spirit of giving that spawned those activities came from the love she bestowed on my first mom's kids, as well as her own.
Happy Mother's Day to Rosalie and Lucille, and to all moms past, present and future...
Gifts of Longevity
Food is an interesting paradox: there are foods that taste amazing but aren't really good for the body, and foods that are good for the body but are not exactly appetizing. If you can find foods that are good for the body AND taste amazing, that's the sweet spot! I'm delighted to report that most of the items we make or carry at Random Acts of Breadness fall into the last category (the remaining products are amazing, too, but contain sugar so fall into the category of occasional indulgences, although such indulgences make people happy and laughter is the best medicine, so who's to say they're not healthy?).
One of the healthiest food products there is on the planet is genuine, organic extra virgin olive oil (EVOO). Coupled with another highly-documented-beneficial food, organic 3-day artisan sourdough bread, and you have a recipe for longevity! The above photos show some of the combinations of EVOO and Breadness I've put together that make awesome, healthy gifts for Mother's Day, or any day!
If you're looking for something savory that your body and taste buds will both love, come sample Lisa Grabow's Beyond the Olive tantalizing Tapenades. We also carry Lisa's Muffuletta chopped olive spread; worth trying if you like a Tapenade with a bit of zing!
In 1998 I learned about the benefits of eating Raw Butter as opposed to traditional pasteurized butter. Ever since then, that's the kind of butter I mostly eat (at least a stick a week!). We're fortunate to be able to carry and offer two Raw Farm butters: Cultured Unsalted and Lightly Salted. I colloquially call these "French Style" and "American Style." Whichever you choose, Breadness and Raw Butter are a match made in heaven. And if you prefer a vegan butter alternative, we have Nutiva's Coconut Oil Buttery Flavor spread. It's amazing how much like butter this spread actually tastes!
So there's the lowdown on our Longevity Gifts! My goal in creating artisan sourdough was not to make a healthy bread, but to make an amazing bread! The fact that it also happens to be healthy is a bonus! As a famous Vulcan said often: "Live long and prosper..."
Cinnamon Raisin Maple Pecan Sourdough
We've made a fresh round of 36 Organic Artisan Cinnamon Raisin Maple Pecan Sourdough loaves for this week, along with 144 of our Traditional Country Loaves. A great gift for Mom is a loaf of our Cinnamon Raisin Maple Pecan Sourdough and a pound of Raw Farm Butter so that you can surprise her by making Le Pain Perdu (French Toast) for breakfast or brunch. (The butter is for melting on top of the finished toast.)
Mother's Day is this weekend so place your order early to help us make enough Breadness for Sunday (we need to know by Thursday at 3pm). You can also give mom one of our Gift Cards and let her go on a shopping spree at the bakery! Besides, we'd LOVE to meet your mom...
Random Acts of Breadness is located at 2214 West Magnolia Blvd. in Burbank (2-1/2 blocks east of Buena Vista on the south side of the street). Come to the bakery and sample our artisan wares, or order on line for bakery pickup, or have Breadness delivered or shipped to your door. You may also order by phone at 818-562-7303 and pay when you come pick it up. We're open Friday & Saturday 12 to 6 p.m. and Sunday 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Note: If you (or someone you wish to gift) live within 120 miles of Los Angeles, we can ship on Thursday (via UPS Ground) and in most cases your Breadness Box will arrive on Friday (Saturday at the latest). Place your order before Thursday at noon here.
Enjoy a "slice of life" at Random Acts of Breadness!
From our hands to yours...
Randall Michael Tobin
Artisan Baker/Chef, PC, ACF
2214 West Magnolia Blvd., Unit A, Burbank, CA, 91506, United States of America
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