Molasses. It has an unmistakable smell. A savory sweet—comforting, and old-timey. It bridges generations and molasses cookies always seem to be the right thing on a day that’s rainy or cold.
When my husband and I purchased our first home—a townhome in New Jersey—it was in the
beginning stages of a new development. We were one of the first owners in area of the new
community that was blissfully surrounded by woods. (Yes, even in New Jersey there are
woods.) The home was beautiful, and we loved our time there, but the beginning was a bit
Because of that kind of “remote” woodsy location, and the presence of nearby unruly teens and
other malcontents, the builder hired a security guard to look over building materials on site, as
well as the homes that were built and waiting to be sold. The guard was a rangy old guy, small
of stature, who looked like he might have been homeless and alone but for this job. He had a
trailer there—the kind you can imagine—and made his rounds in all weather. The teens threw
rocks at him and taunted him. We were thankful for his presence and wondered what we’d
gotten ourselves into.
On one of those rainy, chilly late fall days that are nothing but greys, greyed out ambers, and
trees looming out of the mist, I saw our guard out doing his rounds, rain dripping off his jacket.
I’d just pulled a few dozen molasses cookies out of the oven.
When I gave him the Zip-loc full of them, they were still a little warm. He looked at me with
dancing eyes, a bit incredulous, and said, “My mom used to make these for me when I was a
boy. I haven’t had one since she passed.”
We were friends until he suddenly wasn’t needed by the builder anymore. Each time I make
molasses cookies, I wonder if he’s still alive (he’d be very old) and how he lived out his
remaining years. I hope he had people to be kind to him. I hope someone else made him some