Bremerton used to have a town baker.

Who can say that anymore about their community? Who can drive to a small storefront,  tucked away in the community, where you know bread and other yummy products were baked that morning? And if you got there early enough, the loaves were still warm when you broke open the crust? If he was there, you could talk to the baker about what he did, share recipes, or just marvel at the deliciousness of his goods?

Can you say that about your community? Can you do that there? Can you stop to think about where to pick up what is an essentially homemade gargonzola and olive wheat loaf?

Or must you run into your chain grocery store to grab a loaf in wrapped in cellophane and plastic?

Bremerton used to have the wonderful opportunity for this old-fashioned practice. I never knew how amazing it was until we had Luigi Ferrari and his breads in town. I never knew what it was like to be able to grab one of his seeded baguettes and fill it full of spicy mustard, meat, veggies and avocado for lunch until last year. I never knew what it was like to bite into one of his warm sugary rolls that had just left the cozy oven, nearly bringing me to my knees and tears to the eyes until one morning last summer. No one knew how wildly successful he’d be until he started vending at local farmers markets and was selling out just about every week.

It’s like the saying “out of sight, out of mind”. You don’t realize how good it is until you have it. And unfortunately, I’m afraid Bremerton will once again forget how good it is.

Dear Luigi passed away recently, due to unfortunate circumstances. His funeral was on Saturday. By some standards, he was new to town – only been around 8 or so years in Kitsap. But the chapel was standing room only. People spoke about his kindness and his quirkiness. His ability to exude warmth through his conversation and smile. I myself had only personal contact with him a few times, but each time, I walked away feeling honored that I personally knew our town baker. I took pride in supporting his business and what was a family practice that had been brought over from Italy.

As imagined, everyone is saddened by the loss. But it was also interesting to hear how they are mad too. Not an awful revengeful way, but more as a result of grieving: “why did he have to go! we can’t get his bread! we can’t engage in conversation! we can’t get to know this person and his ways better!”

People say I’m young, at a unriped age of 30. So, yes, I don’ t know what it was like in “the old days” – (what defines old days? Laura Ingalls Wilder-period? Civil War? The Depression? WW2? 1950s?) but mainly, when the community heralded its butcher, its baker, its farmers, its ice cream man, its local grocer, its milk man. But I have a feeling I’m starting to learn more about what it was like and long for more of it.

But most importantly, I think Luigi helped play a major part in teaching the community that lesson too.

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