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Family looks back at shop legacy, remembering fondly

Photo courtesy of Dixie Brown Neil Brown as the second generation of the Brown family to operate Brownie’s Donut and Pastry Shop, which was a feature of downtown Marietta from 1952 to 2004.

Pearley L. Brown opened Brown’s Bakery on lower Front Street in 1952.

In 1964, Neil took over from his father and reopened at 258 Front St., as Brownie’s Donut and Pastry Shop.

Raising a young family and starting a business wasn’t easy, but we managed.

Neil always said the shop was ours, but “Pop” would always be the boss. He taught Neil everything he knows.

They worked side-by-side for many years until Pop was 90 years old and had to give it up, due to his health.

It was a sad day, as Neil was a little unsure if he could pull everything off without his dad, but he did it.

I never got over being in awe of all the donuts, breads, pies, coffeecakes and many other pastries that would be waiting to be taken care of when I would go to work.

After all there was just Neil and Bill there with some assistance from Rose, Neil’s sister.

She worked in the shop from day on until the last day. There years flew by with kids graduating, getting married and grandchildren coming.

Our oldest son, Jay, started working at a very young age, maybe 8 years old, helping his dad make cookies on Sunday mornings. When he graduated high school he worked there until he found his real job, then he would come in help before he went to work. Our youngest son, Eric, also helped until he found his place of employment.Our grandson, Corey, also worked on Saturdays while he was in school.

So for many years it was a third-generation operation.

We were blessed to have wonderful employees over the years who became family. We couldn’t have done it without them.

We went through several floods, and had to move the basement out more times than I can count, but nothing compared to the flood of 2004.

Always before, we were warned and knew we had to move. This time it came so fast no one escaped damage.

It was a hard decision to make whether to go back or not. We were closed for four months, opening two weeks before Thanksgiving.

We were busier than ever and things never looked better. Until July 6, 2005.

An electrical fire starting in the attic destroyed the building. We were all stunned after this hit. We had no way to go back this time.

It was time to retire. Two weeks after the fire we were surprised with a gathering in the Armory yard given by our fellow shop owners and other friends of Brownie’s.

It seemed like the whole town was there.

It was in appreciation of our 42 years of serving the community. It was wonderful and we will never forget it.

Well, he is almost retired; he still makes pepperoni rolls for several businesses.

Between Thanksgiving and Christmas he makes fruitcakes. It keeps me busy cleaning and mopping up all of the stickiness everywhere.

He has always loved what he does or he couldn’t have endured the 12-14 hour days he put in everyday.

Brownie’s fruitcakes can be found for purchase this season at American Flags and Poles, 276 Front St., and at The Busy Bee, 226 Gilman Ave., in Marietta.

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