Our next door neighbor growing up in
Richland was Mrs. Pansy Carter Franks who resided in an enormous house that was
over a century old and was probably one of the larger dwellings in our hometown. She
and her husband Walter (Bear) were traveling representatives for oil industry
products which kept them on the road during the week, however when she was in
town she baked and sold the most delicious cakes imaginable. When
they retired, she became the full-time cake lady of Richland.
The caramel cakes that she baked were
legendary because the icing was just like candy and being the neighbor-children
meant that we visited often and she always served us slices of cake. In
fact, during the summer months, she made miniature cakes just for us, and we
held tea parties in the kitchen while she baked more cakes than you could
The property on the other side of Ms.
Pansy was vacant when we moved in our brick house there on Nicholson Street, but
then one day much to our surprise, someone began constructing a new brick house. We
heard that they had two children, a son near Davidís age and a daughter that was
my age. We were so excited to have a family
moving to town and it did not take long for us to become best friends with the
There was privet hedge between our yard
and Mrs. Pansyís house that was tall and dense, but it did not take long for us
kids to create a passageway through the hedge so we could go back and forth
without going down toward the sidewalk. There
in her backyard was a two room house that was empty but in remarkable condition
for a structure that was over a century old. We
were allowed to play in the cottage and for several summers called it our
Over on the side of Ms. Pansyís house
was the remains of a gold fish pond that she said held water and fish when she
was a little girl. When we discovered the
skeleton of the pond, we decided to see if we could clean it out and make it
usable again. It sounded like a great idea to
everyone so for weeks we pulled weeds and stacked rocks around the edge in hopes
that we could make it into a swimming pool.
Needless to say, the cement pond was
never completely repaired but it gave us a great project for the summer and when
we were tired from working, Ms. Pansy treated us to Kool-Aid and homemade cake. The
day the Ladd family moved back to West Virginia was a sad time for us, Dickey
and Cynthia had become like family and we missed them dearly.
Sadly Dickey was murdered years ago. This
year Cynthia and I are celebrating a milestone birthday and for a few days we
will be together with another Richland classmate Jackie Chappell New for a grand
reunion and celebration.