Mar
14

The Donut Girls

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There was a senior citizen who lived in a small town all by herself.  In the early evening she had retired to bed when all of a sudden sounds started coming from downstairs, someone had broken into her home.  The elderly lady grabbed the phone, got under her bed, and called nine-one-one, but it just rang and rang.  And even worse, the home invader was now making his way upstairs.  It was then the senior got an idea – reaching for the telephone book she looked up the local doughnut shop.  Then calling the baker, he handed the phone to the town policeman who immediately came to the house and made the arrest!

It was the Dutch who brought the doughnut to North America.  Called olykoeks (oily cakes), the word “nut” was added to the word “dough” because nuts were put in the middle when cooking the dough to prevent the center from being undone.  But doughnuts never became a big thing in the land, and maybe never would have, were it not for the Salvation Army.  Let me explain.

In the year 1917, 250 Salvation Army ladies were sent  overseas to France to assist the soldiers in non-combat roles (clothes mending, letter writing, gospel concerts, religious services, etc.) including free refreshments.  And they were the only non-military females allowed on the front lines, each one issued – a helmet, gas mask, and .45 calibre revolver for their defense.

Two of the lassies decided to make doughnuts for the soldiers of the American first division outfit.  Using a pot-bellied wood stove to cook, a wine bottle as a rolling pin, and a coffee lid as a presser, they cooked up in a frying pan, seven doughnuts at a time.  Their first day total was 150.  One of the ladies described the scene – “It was back-breaking to stand over the pan, so we spent most of our time kneeling in front of the stove.  And we were always aware that anything could happen at anytime, with machine gun-fire going on around us and bombs dropping from planes up above.  But we had a prayer in our hearts that somehow this home touch would do more for those who ate the doughnuts than just satisfying a physical hunger.  The soldiers stood in the rain and mud, patiently waiting their turn.  We then knew we had hit upon something when our very first customer said, “Oh boy, if this is war, let it continue!”  The next day the number of doughnuts doubled to 300, and as word spread, the army provided better equipment until finally the daily local total rose to 6,000.  Eventually, millions of the doughnuts would be served to millions of the soldiers all across Europe.

When the war was over, the other lady doughnut maker commented – “The greatest physical hardship came as a result of the weather.  That first winter was very cold.  And how did we keep warm?  We didn’t.  Our feet froze.  We used to take candles, light them, and put them as close to our feet as we could.  Also, we tried to get hot water to wash our feet.  When I got back to America, I had nineteen black spots on my feet where they had been frozen, thawed out, and frozen again.  Other than the cold, there is what I call my ‘doughnut wrist’, from cooking so many doughnuts that the bone bulged out.”

When the war ended and the soldiers returned home, there was a great demand for doughnuts, but no doughnut shops to provide them and so soon chains like Krispy Kreme and Dunkin Donuts eventually came into existence. As well, every year on Veterans Day, bakery shops across America make up a batch of the doughnuts based upon the original recipe (flour, sugar, milk, eggs, baking powder, salt, lard) and serve them free to all military personal, both past and present soldiers.

The bottom line?  The soldiers came up with a name for these Salvation Army ladies,  calling them, “The Donut
Girls”.  And that’s not a bad title, now and then, for women today -  teachers providing such as their students battle to learn, wives as their husbands battle to earn, mothers as their children battle to obey, members as their leaders battle to serve, etc.  The Bible says in Nehemiah 8:10 – Then said he unto them, Go your way, eat the fat, and drink the sweet and send portions unto them for whom nothing is prepared…