Sad farewell

... to Breads 'n Bits

by Jackie Wattenberg

Life is a series of changes, we all know that. But losing Breads 'n Bits? That's too
much! Twenty or 30 pizza places--but where will be get our scones?

First Melrose lost the big ice cream parlor--every Main Street should have an ice
cream parlor. Then the used bookstore where you could find just about any kind of
book you wanted. Sad day.

Then it was my favorite pizza place--Caruso's, with the crispiest crust and thickest
cheese. And the sad day when the Melrose Drug Center closed--pharmacist Don Fox,
with frequent showings of his marvelous watercolor paints right there. Recently
Peacuddy's Cafe and Bakery closed--a year or so after moving from Main Street to

And now the warmhearted, totally distinctive Irish place, Breads 'n Bits of Ireland,
the friendliest place in town! Arranged to be friendly: tables for two, tables for
four, the long table in the front room, where someone alone could sit and maybe a
few others also alone might come in, and pretty soon a group could form and settle
our political or sports dilemmas.

And the room in the rear near owner Mary Anne McGonagle's fireplace with her
grandmother's old utensils...a table for two, and two tables for five of six. Women
who have been friends since high school meet there every Wednesday or maybe
Thursday. Some women come for coffee or tea and scones right after Catholic church
on weekdays. Scones or apple pie or Irish apple cake.

Some friends, some politicians, meet frequently on Saturday mornings for breakfast.
Melrosian Joan O'Connor meets a few friends three mornings a week in this friendly
place. "Where can we meet now?! she asks, like all of us.

Founder Mary McGonagle, with the pretty Irish smile, hasn't been around much for the
last year or so, mornings only, so husband, Tim Moynihan, rolls out the big dough
for those elegant scones, and can tell you, in his dignified, honest manner, which
is the better soup of the day--both homemade, of course.

At holiday time, he's in charge of the huge stacks of pie boxes in the hall. Well,
Tim and Mary: where will I get my mince pie--a delicious thing of the past--now?

We shouldn't forget the music--always not-too-loud Irish songs playing in the Irish
background with authentic singers and sometimes Frank Sinatra. Often on St.
Patrick's Day Brendan Carroll would drop in to sing Irish songs in his melodious
baritone. And we can't forget the Irish bread because I hate breakfast, and the best
way to get away with it is to toast a slice of their Irish bread--delicious!

This is the place where, when a new resident, I met my friend Ruth, and later my
friend Carol for good lunch and good chatty atmosphere. A few years ago when my
sister from California visited, this is where I brought her to dine with friends.
She loved the scones. My favorite--blueberry, and I always point out the one with
most berries glowing all over! But perhaps my happiest baking memory is the summer
they made lemon meringue pies with the ingredient not found in even fine
restaurants- -real lemon!

With Tim and Mary's daughter Laura leaving too, of course, no more Halloween ghosts,
monsters and gravestones in the hall, gauzy cobwebs up to the high ceiling. A
stunning display! Of course, a Christmas tree in the corner, beautiful Christmas
figures in the windows, Christmas carols in the air.

Many of us hope that some charmers will take over this distinctive place, the only
place of its kind in town, in any town. So far, no news of what might come. And what
will Tim, now still so busy baking scones and bread, be doing? With a happy smile he
says, "Mary and I will be going to Ireland in July for my niece's wedding. In Co-
Cork--that's short for County Cork."

He has fond memories of his 23 years in what many of us call the Irish Place. "I've
made lots of friends here, and I'll still be seeing them." And maybe from habit
making a few Irish scones. For Tim and Mary's farewell, read their eloquent message
on their door in the hallway...making Breads 'n Bits a place for people to get
acquainted and make new friends was their plan right from the start.

Paraphrasing a bit from the Irish song "Danny Boy," "Tis you must go, and I must

Reprinted, with permission from the Melrose Free Press, June 21,

July 6, 2012

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