Sometimes the bakery boys went hunting for grasshoppers behind the building, to toss in the oven. They would count the grasshopper jumps before done. With a rag on a pole, they would sweep out the crispy crickets. Then the oven was ready.
Marcel would have none of this fun. He was the one truly skilled worker in the bakery and Marcel preferred the solace of the break area to the banter of the packing room. And tonight, he shared his secret knowledge with Fred – the design of an outdoor bread oven, in the French country tradition, sketched on the back of a grocery sack. The wood stove oven he drew was simple in concept – a raised concrete foundation, lined with stone which supported a fire chamber for stoking the oven. A second platform supported the baking hearth and an arched brick kiln shaped the oven chamber. A stove-piped chimney finished Marcel's drawing.
"Voilà. C'est tres facile."
Sketched and signed on a shopping bag, like Picasso might have done in his day.
In the weeks that followed, Fred found a crew for the outdoor oven project in girlfriend, Fran and her machinist brother, Warren. Warren's backyard, on a side street off East Colfax, would provide the 'rural country setting' for the construction site. After a couple of beers and some scoping of the task, they were off on a low-budget scavenger hunt. With Warren's pickup truck, they spent a few weeks making the rounds from the industrial scrap yards of Commerce City, the brickyards of Denver and the creek beds of Boulder, to the country home of Fred and Fran, behind the IBM plant in west Boumont. For that rustic look, Fred and Warren scrounged for rocks near the entrance of Boulder Canyon. As they loaded the pickup with handsome, creek-washed stones, a homeowner shouted from across the way, "I pay taxes on those rocks. Put them back." With a smirk and a smile, the two thieves sped off with their building supplies. "These stones rock, Man. The Stones Rock!" The fire chamber assembly began a few weeks later when Vinnie the Moocher showed up in Boumont, with a fifty-five gallon industrial chemical drum and his acetylene torch. After barbeque and beer, they got down to business. Inside the BBQ pit, Fran rinsed the barrel interior with gasoline to get rid of the toxic industrial residue. Imagine her surprise when the combination of the oil drums, gasoline and smoldering embers created a ball of fire that exploded in her face. Voilà – flamethrower. Luckily, only her eyebrows were toasted. A few beers later, Fred and Vinnie patched her up and proceeded to cut the barrel in half to ship down to the construction site. By summer's end, kiln bricks were gathered, an oven door was scrounged and shiny chimney stovepipes were secured. The masonry work proceeded in a slow and steady manner – foundation poured, rocks mortared at the base, the fire chamber secured, a baking platform laid in and the oven bricks carefully arched to match Marcel's primitive drawing. They were ready to bake.