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A Loving Farewell to the Beverlywood Bakery

If Joni Mitchell were Jewish or even if she wasn’t (which she isn’t) she would be writing a song about the Beverlywood Bakery on Pico Blvd. with the birdhouse on the roof. It’s closing this week; they’re paving over the Pink Box Bakery and putting up a parking lot. We’re not sure if it’ll be a parking lot. My guess is the rent got so exorbitant it was just too much for the good old Beverlywood Bakery to exist. 

As it goes, so goes with it my heart although it is impossible to pave over my memories. Such incredible memories both of unmatched taste and an aroma that sweetened the entire neighborhood. 

Even more than that, of family because that is where I went with my mother, Sylvia, three, four, five times a month or more if there were Jewish holidays coming.  I’ll never forget as a little boy holding her hand, walking into that multicolored tiled space with the sun blaring through those huge windows and, of course, the lovely women behind the counter telling my mother what they told every mother and her children, “What a lovely child, would you like a cookie?” I beamed at the chocolate sprinkled cookies she handed me and savored every little morsel. 

The Beverlywood Bakery opened in 1946 and, until its closure on April 30, was considered the oldest bakery in Los Angeles.  We began going there in the late 1950s, when I was about five years old, and it became our go-to spot for years to come.  Much of that had to do with the selection of Jewish-style bakery goods and their perfect creations: from birthday cakes to bagels to hamantaschen — you name the sweet, floury confection and they had it.

Behind the counter were the most zealous, efficient, and hard-working women, always there to take your order and ring it up.  You took a ticket (!) and waited in line.  They may have remembered you from last week, or not.  It didn’t really matter. You paid in cash or check and received your luscious treats in a perfectly wrapped pink box or plastic bag with a tie.

Of course, my mother always bought a challah and corn rye (sliced medium, please) and some Danish for a nosh. Later, in my teens, I discovered the dense magnificence of their chocolate chip rolls, the big ones packed with chocolate chips that if you heated in the oven for a little bit the chocolate would melt through them, and they would be so soft and gooey and would match up perfectly with an ice-cold 8-ounce glass of milk. 

When my older brother, Bruce, turned 16, he and I would drive over to the bakery and Charlie’s Deli next door to get our usual lox, cod, and bagels from the two stores for our ritual Sunday morning breakfast.  Charlie’s was a family operation run by three generations.  We knew the boys at the counter from school.  Bruce would go to Charlie’s for the schmear and fish, and I would go to the Bev Bakery to get a dozen onion bagels.

My mother, who lived in her Beverlywood home into her 90s, would always bring a bunch of pink boxes to our home, I guess to make sure her grandsons knew what truly good sprinkled cookies taste like. Until last week, if I found myself in the neighborhood, I’d run over to buy some chocolate chip rolls, a rye bread, packed, of course, in a pink box or two.

The bakery is baked into my soul. It is such a huge part of my upbringing, such a big part of my Jewishness.

The Beverlywood Bakery is baked into my soul. It was just pure, unadulterated joy (except for some of the ingredients I guess). It is such a huge part of my upbringing, such a big part of my Jewishness, my neighborhood and my mother’s desire to make me and the rest of the family happy through the food we ate and the rituals we had.

By the way, my mom couldn’t bake a lick but she knew where to buy the best stuff. The Pink Box Store will be sorely missed, and no one will ever have those kinds of memories again. But they’ll always be with me.

Richard Leivenberg is a Los Angeles native and a long-time writer who attended Hamilton High School, UCLA and UC Berkeley.  

Source: Jewish Journal

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