Through the clear paned glass you see them, mouth watering in anticipation: cakes. Anniversary cakes, wedding cakes, even coffee cakes displayed elegantly in the shop window. From the open door the warm, familiar music of The Temptations invites you in. Inside you find shelves stacked high with cakes.
"That's my goal," she said, nodding resolutely, "I plan to open up a bakery."
This spring Vendor of the Week Brenda Duckworth will begin baking school at South Seattle Community College, learning the fragile and mysterious process of balancing flavors, flours, and sweetness to concoct the confection known as cake. Her imagination is not limited by Betty Crocker dreams of circular white cakes with frosted flowers. "If somebody wants a leaning tower of Pisa," she says, "I want to be able to make it."
And make it she will, with the strength and compassion that permeates her smile and her proud recollections of the four children she raised: Montella "Cookie," Frederick "Freddie", Brianna "Nana", and James. She would like to trace their names in leaves on a vine tattoo on her wrist. "Soon as I stop being chicken," she says, laughing.
Born in Denver, Brenda has made Seattle her home. "The weather keeps me here...not too cold in the winter and not too hot in the summer." Standing on the street corner, she interacts with people who normally pass each other by without even a nod. That's why she enjoys selling Real Change: "I like talking to and meeting the people."
To her customers Brenda says, "Thanks for supporting Real Change, whether you buy the paper from me or another vendor. Also I want to give a shout out to my best friend William Brown." Dear William, you have a sweet friend in Brenda Duckworth.
--Story and photo by Jane Austin