Mitzi and her Cake Pan

Mitzi Boyd and I have shared a lot of laughs while working together at the Community Foundation of Northwest Georgia.  Our side discussions have ranged from politics to religion to Seinfeld to philanthropic emergencies to the moronic comments in The Daily Citizen's forum to who performed the best on American Idol during the week. And through the years, she's also shared a few stories from her past with me, prompting me to say, "Wow, Mitzi, you've got to get that story on paper."

 Mitzi Boyd with her Nanny's Cake Pan.  Did Nanny leave the magic in the pan?  Read Mitzi's story on page 93 of Project Keepsake to find out.

Mitzi Boyd with her Nanny's Cake Pan.  Did Nanny leave the magic in the pan?  Read Mitzi's story on page 93 of Project Keepsake to find out.

She would respond, "I've written a little about it already, but you're right, I need to get serious about my writing. I've got to make it a priority."

She has the same problem a lot of us writers have—she just doesn't have an abundance of free time to nurture her personal writing. The will to write is there, but the time is not.

Mitzi attended one of my writing workshops in Dalton a few years ago, and as expected, she was one of the star students of the class. And so when I started collecting stories for Project Keepsake, I asked her to identify one of her keepsakes and write about it for me.

A few weeks later, she handed me two sheets of typed paper—a first draft of her keepsake story. She was nervous about sharing it with me, but it was great. 

Her story about her Nanny's Magic Cake Pan is a lovely tribute to her Nanny Keith. Here's one of my favorite excerpts from Mitzi's story.

After Nanny’s death, my mother and her siblings began the unavoidable task of dividing her things. I asked for only a few items that I had given to her through the years, and I asked for the cake pan.

It was surrendered without any argument, and frankly, I was surprised that the many years of wonderful cakes did not seem to mean as much to my cousins and siblings as they did to me. Nevertheless, I was thrilled with my treasure. Its shiny dented surface with scratch marks from all those years comforts me. It transports me to a place in my heart filled with love and joy—it takes me back to my childhood.

I was convinced that the secret of Nanny’s extraordinary cakes had to be in the pan. That was the only plausible explanation. The mix came from a box—nothing added to it or taken away—purchased from the local supermarket, so I knew the magic wasn’t in the ingredients. I had watched her make her cakes so many times over the years, and I knew how it was done. Of course, I watched her make dumplings and gravy too, but still can’t make either very well.

And so, it was with some trepidation that I mixed-up my first pound cake to bake in Nanny’s pan. What if I was wrong, and the magic wasn’t in the pan? Would I ever be able to replicate that wonderful sweet, buttery taste that floods my mind with memories if she didn’t leave the magic there?
— Mitzi Boyd