Sunday, April 20, 2014

Grandfather Ohnmacht's Bakery Shop

My maternal grandparents were long time bakers and they owned two bakeries in Manhattan. My grandfather came to this country in 1892 from Germany. I can only imagine  what life was like during this time.

The interior of the bakery was typical of the period. The walls were covered with wall paper.  A high tin ceiling  with large fans and light fixtures. There were wooden tables and chairs for the customers who were enjoying a cup of coffee and a pastry. The long counter was wooden with a marble top were food could be prepared and served. There were cabinets behind the counter which displayed breads and pastry. The school clock on the wall displayed the correct time and the customers who were working relied upon the clock so that would return to work on time. The pans on the counter were used to make the tarts.

The women depicted in the photograph who is serving the food is my grandmother, Gertrude who spent much of the daytime cleaning and serving food. The floor was tiled and shined as proof of her labor. The cabinets show signs of being polished often. The man standing directly across from her with the mustache is my grandfather, Gottlieb Ohnmacht. They were married in 1900 and the photograph was taken some where within a ten year span of that date.

I can imagine myself walking into the bakery. Opening up the door the store bell would ring as it was jarred into life. Immediately the smell of fresh baked goods would encircle you and your mouth would begin to salivate. Mohnbrotchen (Poppy Rolls), Hefekranz (Yeast Braid), Butterhornchen (Butter Crescents), Haselnussring (Hazelnut Ring), Nusskipfel (Nut Crescents), Streuselkuchen (Crumb Cake) and Apfelkuchen ( Apple Cake) to name a few of the plentiful breads and cakes waiting to be devoured. Many of the customers were having coffee with whip cream in it along with their tart or roll.

When my mother Ottillia was a young girl around five years old she could look out her tenement window and see the bakery. When she was ready for breakfast she would peer out the window and my grandmother would  be watching from the bakery window.  Gertrude would quickly go to the apartment to feed her daughter breakfast. After breakfast Ottillia would join her parents in the bakery. At this time in the 1920's they lived at 2219 8th Avenue which is now Frederick Douglas Blvd. Today there is a Chocolatier at this address.

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