The Bread Man


(Based on a true story)
A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches (Prov. 22:1).

Five-year-old Dee woke to whispers and gentle nudging from Grandpa Leonard, who was dressed in his blue Sunbeam Bakery uniform. Dee sat straight up in bed, rubbed his eyes, and looked around. The clock on the nightstand next to him read 3:00 a.m.

An inviting aroma of bacon and toast came from the kitchen. “Grandma is finishing breakfast for us,” Grandpa whispered. “Hurry and dress, but don’t wake your brother. Duke can come to work with me tomorrow. Today it’s your turn.”

Excitement swelled as Dee quickly dressed. He looked across the room at Duke, his twin brother, who was sound asleep and snoring. All year long Dee and Duke looked forward to the day school would end and they could visit Grandma and Grandpa in the country. They fed the chickens, worked in the garden, and went fishing. But Dee’s favorite activity was riding in the big bread truck, helping Grandpa deliver bread to the small country grocery stores serving the Iowa townships nearby.

Dee made his way to the kitchen, his stomach growling. After prayer, he gobbled his breakfast in record time and ran out the door to the car with Grandpa. Grandma stood on the porch in her robe and waved good-bye.

When they arrived at Sunbeam Bakery, Dee was surprised to see Grandpa’s bread truck already loaded with freshly baked bread and delicious pastries. He savored the aroma. A man emerged from the idling truck’s cab and waved. “Everything’s ready for you this morning.”

Grandpa smiled. “Thank you, Charlie. I’ll just get my inventory sheet and double-check our load. Then we’ll be on our way.”

Grandpa quickly and carefully checked off each item and made a few notes on the inventory list. He lifted Dee onto the passenger seat and handed him a day-old Danish. “Here you go, Dee—dessert to top off Grandma’s fine breakfast.” Grandpa was allowed to buy the day-old breads and pastries at a reduced price after he had returned them to the bakery. Sometimes Grandpa’s boss treated them, but they never took anything unless it was offered first.

Soon they were on the road. Dee watched the sun peer over the rolling hills of corn and grain carpeting the Iowa landscape. The ride with Grandpa was fun. They sang songs together that Dee had learned in church, and Grandpa taught him to whistle a new tune. He told Dee stories about life on the farm as they passed cow pastures, sheds that held pigs, and chicken coops.

Before Dee knew it, they had arrived at the tiny town of Fairview, and Grandpa pulled the truck to the back door of the local grocery store. Grandpa hopped out of the truck and helped Dee out. Dee was happy with his small hand in Grandpa’s great big one as they approached the store. With his free hand, Grandpa reached for the ring of keys that he kept attached to his belt loop and unlocked the back door.

Grandpa spoke slowly. “These keys are a sacred trust. Do you understand what that means?” Dee wasn’t sure. He slowly shook his head.

As they walked through the door, Dee saw the many items the grocer had for sale. There were aisles and aisles of food, an aisle for cleaning supplies, and even a special aisle filled with toys and sporting goods, like fishing gear. “How nice it would be to own this store,” Dee thought, “to have all these things and never just wish for them.”

Grandpa interrupted Dee’s thoughts. “The owner of this store has given me his key to the back door because he knows that I will never harm my good name by stealing,” Grandpa said. “My father was known for his honest dealings in this town, and I am blessed to carry his name.”

Nothing more was said. Dee helped Grandpa remove the bread that would go back to the bakery to be sold as day-old goods. He helped him stack the fresh bread that was still warm. He thought about what Grandpa had said and smiled. He was happy to be a member of Grandpa’s family. He made a promise to himself that he too would someday be known for his good name.

Dee watched with pride as Grandpa reached again for the ring of keys and securely locked the door. They got into the truck again and headed for the Eddyville store, whistling as loud as they could.

[Honesty and Integrity]

Elder Sheldon F. Child

“Honesty and integrity are not old-fashioned principles. … In our dealings with both God and our fellowmen, let us be examples of honesty and integrity.” Elder Sheldon F. Child of the Seventy, “As Good As Our Bond,” Ensign, May 1997, pp. 29–30.

[illustrations] Illustrated by Brandon Dorman