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Volume 16, Issue 50 - December 11 - December 17, 2008
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Letter From the Editor

Bake Bill Burton a Birthday Cake — or Pie

Like Larry Petro, whose letter you’ll read on this page, we all know Bill Burton likes fruitcake. We know because he tells us. Routinely.

Fruitcakes are a Burton tradition, he wrote last year, and no one made one better that Grandma Burton at the old, big wood-burning stove in New England.

Even during the lows of the Great Depression, at this time of year she served me a generous slab of fruitcake with a dab of homemade whipped cream atop it after she read me the poem “Sugar Plum Tree.” It became a tradition not broken until I joined the Seabees and wasn’t around to listen. When I was in the Pacific, she sent me a fruitcake. It’s a good thing they have a long shelf life, because it took almost a month to reach me. (Vol. xv, No. 51: Dec. 20, 2007).

Those words appeared in a column thanking Millie DeBlasi of Linthicum for sending him a Canadian fruitcake, in response to his column of 2006.

In that persuasive column, he wrote I’m not much for cakes, unless they are as chocolate as chocolate can be, but my cardiologist and family doctor have vetoed any such indulgences by this chocoholic.

There is but one other exception. I’d kill for a traditional homemade fruitcake. A good and hearty fruitcake is the most wrongfully maligned creation on God’s earth. There are more jokes about fruit cakes than there are about mothers in-law, bald men and frigid wives combined.

I say balderdash. Just once taste a good fruitcake, not one stacked on the Christmas gift aisle of the supermarket or pitched by kids raising funds for class.

A fruitcake is a labor of love. Its making takes time, ingenuity, meticulous planning and originality — and not-inexpensive ingredients (Vol. xiv, No. 51: Dec. 21, 2006).

It’s a good thing I’ve just eaten lunch, because those are hungry words.

Somehow, this year Burton has omitted his traditional encomium to the “most wrongfully maligned creation on God’s earth.” He’s been spending a lot of time doctoring, and that’s thrown him off his feed.

Metaphorically, I mean. There’s nothing wrong with his appetite. And his longing for fruitcake is undiminished.

Since Bill hasn’t spoken up for himself this year, I’m speaking for him. Especially as his 83rd birthday falls in this issue’s span, on December 15.

If you’ve enjoyed reading Bill Burton’s 750 or so columns in Bay Weekly these 151⁄2 years — and if you’re good in the kitchen — bake him your thanks. Obviously fruitcake is preferred. Chocolate runs a distant third, judging by his own words: To me, if anything is tastier than a fruitcake, it could only be a mincemeat pie; they’re one-two on my wish list.

Send your sweets to Bay Weekly, 1629 Forest Dr., Annapolis, MD 21403; we’ll make sure they’re delivered (minus a slice or two). And we promise a column in return.

But don’t tell him I told you so.

Sandra Olivetti Martin

Editor and publisher


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