And The Horse You Rode In On


"Thanks. You don't know how much I appreciate it and she does seem to like spending time with you."

"I guess you have noticed that she has turned into Ms. Curiosity. She asks me endless questions about everything."

"No, I haven't noticed that. She and I have been talking just like we always have. She used to ask her daddy questions sometime, but not often."

"Well for whatever reason, she had questioned me about the barn, making bread, and almost everything else. Frankly, I kind of like it as long as I have the answers." He grinned a slightly embarrassed grin."

"Thank you for helping her. I know that this has been hard on her. I have been concerned but her teachers say that she is doing just fine. Actually, they say she has been doing a little better recently."

"Good. Then I will just do what I can do with her when she asks."

Gwen eyed him closely for a moment and then said, "You are so special. I don't think you realize it."

Gerald had no response. He actually turned a little pink.

That Saturday, Cherilyn went with Gerald to the farmer's market while Gwen went to the prison. She wandered around looking at things for awhile and then came back to Gerald's table. He had sold about half of his bread. When a friend of hers from school stopped by with her parents, Cherilyn proudly told her friend that she had helped Gerald make the bread. Her friend commented that that was cool. She told her friend about the yeast and what it did and how the bread rises and almost everything else they had talked about. Her friend and her parents were listening carefully and then they asked Gerald some questions about his recipe. They bought two loaves of his bread.

When they sold out and put things in his truck, he took Cherilyn to a local franchise restaurant where she ordered a hot dog and he ordered a hamburger. When they were served, Cherilyn took the bun off of her dog and ate it and all of the condiments with a fork.

"Why aren't you eating the bun, Cheri?"

"Since I started eating your bread, this just doesn't taste good anymore. Why don't you make hot dog and hamburger buns. They are just bread aren't they?"

Gerald just stared at her, his mind swirling in a maze of images. Then he smiled at her and said, "Thank you."

"For what? I didn't say anything."

"You would be surprised at what you said."

"Gerald, we are starting to study division at school and everyone says that it is hard. Can you help me?"

"Let's go home and get out the beans. division can be confusing but once you understand it like you did with multiplication, it is easy too."

They drove home and when Gwen arrived, she found them with a table full of beans again and she laughed at the sight. She had stopped and bought the fixings for a chicken Caesar salad and invited him for dinner with them. By that time, Cherilyn was comfortable with dividing bunches of beans into various sized piles. Gerald accepted the invitation for dinner but before he left to join them at their home, he took out some frozen bread dough to thaw out.

After he arrived home, he spent a late evening trying out different dough in different forms and set them out to rise. On Sunday morning, he stoked his brick oven and when it was ready, he put twelve buns in to bake. Since these were smaller than a loaf of bread, he had to stay close to make sure that he didn't over bake them. When he took them out of the oven, he was pleased. Several of the buns looked usable. Several of the others just looked like a small loaf of bread. At noon, he called Gwen and invited them over for burgers and hot dogs for dinner. Gwen agreed but said that she would bring some potato salad.

When they arrived, they found Gerald standing at his grill deep in thought.

"What are you thinking about, Gerald?" Cherilyn asked.

"I am thinking that I am going to change the hamburgers a little before I put them on the grill."

"Why?" she asked.

"Because you told me a lot of things yesterday."

"No, I didn't. You told me a lot of things."

He smiled, "You would be surprised, little one." Gwen just looked on mystified at what they were talking about. Gwen went inside and put the potato salad in the refrigerator after Gerald removed the platter with the burgers and hot dogs on it. He took them outside and carefully changed their shape slightly and soon they were sizzling on the grill. Gwen set the table and poured tea for them. Cherilyn helped her mother.

When Gerald brought in the hot platter, both girls looked at it with a funny look. That disappeared when he placed the plate of buns on the table. The buns were oval shaped; a little longer than a regular hamburger bun but wider than a hot dog bun. The burgers were also oval in shape. Cherilyn squealed in delight as she loaded up a bun with a hot dog, lots of relish, and other things. Gwen took a bun and put one of the oval burger on it and put lettuce, tomatoes, onions and ketchup on it. She was surprised that the bun held everything without it falling out on the sides. She also found that it was easy to hold and didn't fall apart like many commercial buns did. Otherwise, the burger tasted just like it was supposed to taste although the bun was a little sweeter and had a slightly different texture.

They ate heartily while laughing a lot at the funny shape of the burgers and buns.

"Alright, Mr. Chef. Do you want to explain this? They are really good." Gwen asked.

Gerald replied, "It is all Cherilyn's fault."

"Me? I didn't do anything."

"Yes, you did. You said yesterday that a hot dog bun didn't taste good anymore and that I should make buns like my bread. Well, that is what you just ate. Last night I tried several different ways to make buns and let them rise. This morning I baked them. I liked these buns the best but a round hamburger wouldn't sit in it very well, so I made them the same shape as the bun. See, it is all you fault. I'm going to call them Cheri Buns."

Cherilyn squealed in delight. Gwen just looked between her daughter and Gerald with a big smile on her face.

"By the way Cheri, what did I do after I baked the buns?" Gerald continued.

She thought for a moment before she tentatively replied, "Well you let them cool and then you cut them in half. I don't know what you mean."

"Yes, you do. You just said it."

She looked confused. "What did I say?"

"I cut the bun in half. What is another way to say that?"

She thought and then replied, "You divided the bun into two parts."

"Exactly. You do division every day and never think about it."

Her eyes brightened and said, "I guess I do, don't I. Hey, that's pretty cool. So division isn't really as hard as they said."

"Nope. I told you that it was pretty easy when you understood it. I think you understand it now."

Cherilyn beamed with pride.

Gwen responded, "So was this a cooking lesson or a math lesson?"

Gerald replied, "Both, I guess."

She continued, "I was just thinking, these could be buns like you made them, but they could also be dinner rolls or sandwich rolls or a bunch of other things. You need to try to sell some at the market and see how people like them. They really do taste better than a regular old roll or bun."

"Thanks, I was kind of thinking that but now that you have put them to the taste test, I'll work on them some more and see what I can come up with."

On Monday morning, he tested out several ways to make the buns and put them up to rise while he went and working in his garden. He also went over to Gwen's and checked her garden and pulled weeds for an hour. Then he went home and fired up the brick oven. An hour later a dozen buns made with varying techniques were on the cooling rack. Just by looking, he could see that one clearly stood out. For that one, he had floured the dough and rolled it out like a pie crust. He had then cut it into a five inch circle and rolled it like a tortilla wrap and pinched the ends. It proved to be light, yet the crust was firm enough to hold it together. He decided to make a couple of dozen and try them out at the market on Saturday.

Then he sat down and tried to figure out his tax return. He quickly got lost in the myriad of details but it seemed to him that he would owe over $5000 and that brought back fears about remaining solvent. He called one of his bread customers and arranged an appointment to go over his returns.

When he walked out of his meeting he felt a tremendous sense of relief as he owed nothing. He had failed to properly acknowledge his expenses. The accountant had also recommended that he build a separate building to house his baking operation and to set up a sales tax exemption so that he could buy materials at wholesale prices. He also gave him a spreadsheet program for him to keep track of his baking, recycling/demolition work, and his farming efforts. He had never realized that he was in fact an independent businessman operating three different businesses. By keeping better track of his records, the accountant felt that he would not actually have to pay taxes for several more years and even then, there were ways to minimize this bite. He went home and installed the spreadsheet and entered all of his expenses since the first of the year. He was surprised because he had already made the same amount of money as he had during the previous year before expenses. After expenses, he showed less income but he had more cash in the bank and knew that he was much more comfortable than he had been previously.

The idea for a separate kitchen dwelt in his mind for several weeks but became a firm idea two weeks later. He had taken 30 of his buns to the market on Saturday and had sold about half of them and given away the rest as samples. The next week, he had orders for almost 200 buns. It was outdoor grilling season and people wanted his buns for their cookouts.

The next week, he had to start making dough on Wednesday because he would need both Thursday and Friday to bake it all in his kitchen oven and his brick one. While he waited for a brick oven load to finish, he looked at the area around the house but instead of seeing a kitchen, he saw a whole new wing including a new kitchen and a new bedroom. The existing building would turn in a dining room and living room. He felt that he had enough materials for most of it and knew that he would have to add some additional baking equipment to the kitchen. The more he thought about it, the more he liked the idea. He sat down with his spreadsheet later and worked through the numbers and decided that he should charge $4 for six buns. He wondered if people would pay that much. So he came up with a scaled price where people could buy one or two and three or four and then larger quantities. He felt that this was a better solution since many of his customers were single or just a couple.

Wednesday night, Cherliyn came over and helped him roll the dough for Thursday's baking and returned to help him on Thursday also. Gwen had a PTA meeting one night and a school open house the next. Gerald had a light dinner waiting for her each night, a gift that she really appreciated after two long and tiring days. She promised to make dinner for them on Friday night.

Saturday he went to the farmer's market and sold everything he brought. On the way home, he stopped at Gwen's house and gave Cherilyn $40 for helping him. Gwen tried to object but Gerald refused to listen to her. He said that Cherilyn had worked for two hours each night as he prepared his dough and that she had saved him a lot of hours of work. She earned it and he insisted that she take it. Gwen finally relented.

Just before noon on Sunday, Gwen and Cherilyn walked over to find him sitting on his small porch drinking tea.

"And to what do I owe the pleasure you're your delightful company this beautiful morning? Would you like a glass of tea?"

They agreed and when they were all seated on the porch, Gwen said, "Go on Cheri; ask him."

"Gerald, momma said that I could keep the money if I saved half of it. The other half I could spend on things that I want."

"I think that is a great idea and you will be glad you did that, Cheri. So what are you going to buy with your spending money?"

"I am going to buy dinner tonight for you and momma at the Mexican food place." She announced proudly.

Gerald looked at Gwen who looked right back at him with a smile on her face and a slight nod.

"I accept your generous offer. We will do this tonight to celebrate but let's make this special. In the future you use it for yourself. You earned it. OK?"

Cherilyn smiled and said, "OK." Then she went inside. Gwen sat there and looked at Gerald.

"You can't imagine how good she feels that she earned some money and that she can spend part of it on herself. I try to get her everything she needs but I can't always get what she wants. But she insisted that she wanted to take us out to dinner tonight. I'm not sure she has enough to pay for three dinners but I will pick up the difference."

"Only if I don't take care of it first." He smiled at her and she grinned back. Cherilyn came back outside and announced that she needed to go home and get ready for her dates tonight. Both Gwen and Gerald laughed out loud at this pronouncement. They agreed that he would meet them at their house at 6:00.

Gwen drove them to Cherilyn's favorite Mexican restaurant which was a chain but had decent full course meals. It didn't take Gerald or Gwen to figure out that the bill would be closer to $30 than to $20. Gwen looked at Gerald and he gave her a knowing nod and after they ordered he said that he was going to the restroom. Gwen saw him stop at the hostess' station and talk to her for a moment. He pointed to their table and he handed her something. She smiled and nodded.

Cherilyn had tacos, which she dearly loved, while Gwen and Gerald had enchilada dinners. When they were through, Gwen offered to take everyone for ice cream, an idea that was met with great approval. When the waitress brought the check, Gerald nodded toward Cherilyn. The waitress smiled and put it in front of her. She looked at it and smiled proudly and then marched to the counter and paid $15 for their dinner. Both Gwen and Gerald thanked her for their dinner with a hug. She beamed as they went to the car.

For the next several weeks, Gerald did little but bake bread. He managed to take care of his garden requests but had to turn down two lucrative barn clean ups. One day two of the local hamburger restaurants approached him at the market about making batches of buns for them. He told them that he would look into it and get back to them.

It didn't take long that night to figure out that he could make buns for the restaurants or he could make buns for the market. He would make about the same money for either but he would lose the contact with people at the market. He decided that he would pass on the restaurant business and decided to call them after this week's market and tell them.

He never had the chance to make the call because he was approached by a man at the next market who introduced himself as the sales manager for a regional bakery. When Gerald packed up, they met at a local coffee shop.

The man opened the conversation with, "I'm Bill Medwick and as I said I am the sales manager of Sun States Baking. I was visiting with the two hamburger restaurants in town who are our customers. They tell me that you have been baking a new type bun and selling it to local people. Apparently, the locals have started coming in and asking for a burger on a Sherry bun but they don't have it. They brought me a couple and I'll tell you, you have come up with something special. They are really good and can be used for a lot of different things, not just burgers."

"Thanks you and for the record, I call it the C H E R I buns after a young friend of mine who gave me the idea to make a tasty bun."

"That's nice. In any event, we would like to talk to you about buying the rights to your bun so we can make and distribute it throughout the region. Are you interested?"

Gerald would have spurted out an immediate yes but he had just swallowed a sip of coffee and he couldn't talk. When he finally found his voice, he said, "I might be. What are you thinking?"

"I am prepared to offer you $25,000 for the recipe and the rights to use the name Cheri Buns."

Gerald's inclination was to say yes but he thought for a minute then replied, "That sounds very generous. I'll tell you what, let me talk to my accountant and business advisor Monday morning and I will call you in the afternoon. Taxes and stuff, you know."

"I understand. Here is my card and I will be waiting for your call. It has been good to talk to you." They shook hands and each left.

Gerald felt like he was walking on cloud nine. He wanted to run home and tell Gwen and Cherilyn but then he remembered that this was the weekend they went to visit at the prison. He doubted that they would be in the mood to hear his news tonight so he decided to hold off telling them until the next day. Instead, he called the accountant and left a message asking for a brief meeting on Monday morning. Before he got home, the accountant had returned his call and asked if he could come in on Sunday after lunch. He was going to be in the office anyway but was going to be tied up in meetings all day Monday and Tuesday. Gerald said he would be there.

He left the accountant's office with several things to think about. As he drove home, he decided on his course of action. First, he would offer the baking company the rights to make the bun for ten years at a royalty of one cent per bun. They would be happy to not have to put a large chunk of money up front and if it didn't sell well, they wouldn't be out much. On the other hand, if it did sell well, Gerald would make more than the $25,000 they offered. They each shared the risk. The second thing was that Gerald wanted to have Cherilyn participate in the payout as his inspiration and the use of her name. The accountant suggested that he decide on the percentage for her and then set it up to be deposited in a college fund. Neither he nor Gwen would have to pay taxes on it due to her age and it would be there for her when she graduated high school. She would have to pay taxes then but it would be a small amount if any.

Gerald saw the value in both suggestions but he decided to ask for one more thing in addition. He didn't think that it would be a deal killer. He wanted to keep the right to sell up to 200 on the buns a week at the market only. He had too many people particularly older people who probably wouldn't buy a package of six or eight. They wanted two or three and he wanted to continue to supply them. He felt good when he got home and felt even better when he saw the note on his door telling him to come to dinner at 6:00. It was going to be spaghetti night. Fortunately, he had the dough in the refrigerator for a fresh loaf of bread and a new bottle of wine in the pantry.

They had a wonderful dinner but Gerald remained fairly quiet and just listened to the banter between mother and daughter. Finally, Gwen turned to him and said, "You are being awfully quiet. Either something wonderful or terrible happened while we were gone. Care to share it?"

He smiled, "I think that it is pretty wonderful; I hope you do too. I think that I am going to sell the rights for the bun. A bakery has offered to buy it and sell it throughout the region."

"That's wonderful, Gerald, really great. I'm proud of you."

"Gerald, does that mean we won't be making buns anymore?" Cherilyn sounded down about this turn of events.

"No, Cheri, it doesn't mean that at all. I am going to retain the rights to make buns for the people at the market."

"So I can still help you make them?"

"Of course, you are my bread making buddy. But that isn't the best of it. Gwen do you think that the buns are going to be successful?"

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byTexasFarmBoy© 51 comments/ 66125 views/ 152 favorites

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