Ms Pansy, The Cake Lady
By Brenda S. Brown

Our family home in Richland was located on Nicholson Street but everyone referred to it as the Lumpkin highway; when our modern brick house was built there in 1955, there were still some nearby empty building plots available for purchase.  Town historians informed daddy that the parcel of land we purchased was originally part of a large plantation owned by the Carter family, ours being a portion of a long-ago nearly forgotten massive pecan orchard. 

Our neighbor toward downtown was Pansy Carter Franks, a direct descendant of the distinguished Carter family, who not only maintained a colossal Queen Anne Victorian home, but along with her husband; marketed cleaning and industrial chemicals to businesses located throughout the southern states.   When they traveled for business they were gone sometimes for weeks but when they were home, Ms. Pansy baked and sold cakes. 

Ms. Pansy continued to travel for numerous years after Mr. Walter passed away but during that time her orders for sweet-treats increased so much that when she finally retired from the chemical sales career, she began baking cakes for more than the community of Richland.  It was not unusual to see cakes of all types and descriptions on every available table in the house. 

Every conscientious baker needs available taste-testers so, Brother David and I, and the Ladd children; Cynthia and Dickie, who by then lived in the next house toward town, maintained that status for years.  We considered her chocolate icing better than candy so when she created more than she needed, it was saved for our enjoyment. 

On occasion she prepared miniature cakes and invited us to enjoy an impromptu afternoon tea party on her back porch.  She knew my favorite was a yellow cake with caramel icing and for years one magically appeared on my birthday. 

The boys cared little about exploring inside what we thought must be a castle, but Cynthia and I spent many a long summer afternoon gathering in the front salon, on the red, horse-hair cushioned settee and pretending to be the lady of the manor. 

There was a portrait of Ms. Pansy captured on her wedding day, posing on the landing of the gigantic staircase in that front parlor, so many afternoons, Cynthia and I practiced walking up and down the stairs, pretending we were a picturesque bride of yesteryear.   I remember with great affection the years that Cynthia and Dickie Ladd and their parents were our friends and neighbors. 

 

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