When I was a kid, there was only one place where I wanted my birthday cake to be from: Pecht's, located in Brick Plaza in Bricktown. We used to stop there on Sundays after church, which was quite the feat; there's still only a single-lane road that leads in and out of the main shopping area in Brick, and on weekends it's usually backed up quite a bit.
But oh, was it worth the wait! The cupcakes were amazing: moist, sweet, perfect. And the frosting? With that stuff on top, it almost didn't matter what was underneath it. Mr Pecht had it all together, I'd say. The frosting was so divine that I used to eat the bottom of the cupcake first; ever try that? There's probably a law that says only kids can eat that way, but if I could have one of those cupcakes now, I'd probably attempt it anyway. I pretty much only ate the vaniila cupcakes/frosting; the strawberry wasn't quite as good, and I wasn't a big chocolate cake fan back then.
Many years later, I actually worked at Pecht's after finishing college (I Got a BS in Foreign Language For This? my souvenir t-shirt would have read). I first worked with a young married woman whom I'll identify as Suzanne. She was not only a born-again Christian, but she and her husband also sold Amway (a catalog-and home-sale company that makes household products). I kinda knew I was in trouble when her eyes glazed over the same way whenever she spoke about either Jesus OR Amway. Hmmm.... Suzanne taught me how to clean up the bakery every night (we had the night shift together, since I came in about 1-2 pm every day), how to make the shelves clean and gather up the crumbs, which were incorporated into the bakery's crumb cakes every day.
Mr Pecht, a crusty old German man (FYI, not trying to be offensive; my father-in-law qualifies as same), had lost his wife within a year or so before I started working there, which apparently didn't improve his mood. I never really saw him smile much, though I did get him to do it at least once. I'm still not sure what would have made him happy. His sons worked with him, and they were less dour; but we didn't spend much time with any of them, as we were ringing up customers and cleaning.
As my time at the bakery went on, Suzanne left, and I met a lovely lady named Joan, who was about my mom's age. She introduced me to her daughter, whose name I can't recall, and we spent quite a lot of time talking and chumming around. I mostly remember that my friend Joan wore Opium perfume, which is why I later got a bottle for myself; and that she gave me a lot of shit on the occasional day I'd come in to work hungover, which was okay with me. She was hilarious. There were a few others who worked with me in that time I was at Pecht's, but eventually I left there and started working at Spencer Gifts, which was a lot less sleazy in the mid-80s than it is now.
I've been living in the midwest for more than 20 years now, and I'm not sure how long Pecht's has been gone. Looking back, and knowing what I know now about baking, I think that wonderful frosting I loved so much was made with vegetable shortening. But we'll never really know: my first co-worker, Suzanne, told me that she'd learned from our boss that he'd refused to leave his recipes to his sons, thus ensuring that when he was gone, so too would the bakery be.