A great day dawned upon the sleeping city. It was now too early for the old to walk their puppies on the tranquil Fifth Avenue, but not too early for the busy baker to bake his bread.
White steam rose from the boiling kettle and the water was bubbling up. Just as Christopher Ludwick was about to switch off the fire, Ding-dong, a sound of doorbell arose from the wooden door. “It must be the milkman!”, Ludwick thought, wiping his hands briskly on a rag and rushing to the door. But no one was there. He looked around and found a delicate envelope on the ground. “What’s that?”, Ludwick wondered as he put it into his pocket.
There was only sixty minutes left util the opening hour! Ludwick had no time to take a breath and check that unexpected envelope. Perhaps it was sent by his old grandmother who was enjoying her relaxing rural life, or someone had simply posted the wrong address.
Ludwick put the white bread and sesame crackers into the oven and set a clock to ring in 25 minutes. While waiting for the bread, he still kept himself busy- cleaning the showcases, sweeping the floor, and praying to the gods that he would sell all his bread today, or maybe just half would be okay.
The young man, Christopher Ludwick, had sold bread at the Fifth Avenue bakery for nearly three months but had’t gained any profit at all. He sometimes wondered why he didn’t just run a German restaurant or a barber shop. Then, he came to the conclusion that people enjoy doing the things they excel at, just like he was good at baking bread.
Suddenly the clock rang. Ludwick opened the hot oven. An irresistible fresh scent of bread wafted in the air. He loaded some melted mozzarella and other Italian cheese mixed with tomato sauce on a row of perfectly warmed buns, and thickly pasted the sliced bread with butter and cream and decorated them with some lovely raisins. Finally he spread icing and fruit jam over the top hot sides of the cakes. Done! He placed his delicate work in the window cases, anticipating his first customer.
Ludwick finally got some time to take a break. He pulled out the envelope and started to read the letter: To Congress… The faded characters and scrawl in the letter made it hard for Ludwick to recognize; but the only thing he could identify was the sign in the lower right of the yellowed paper: George Washington. When he touched the signature, he suddenly felt a current puncture his fingertip, and the scene before him slowly dimmed out.
Hearing the birds chirping and someone laughing, Ludwick rubbed his eyes and woke up. “Where am I? Whose bed is it?”, he cried out with his eyes popped out and mouth widened. A girl with beautiful golden curly hair came holding a bowl of hot soup in her hands. She smiled and said, “Do you feel good now? Want some soup?”
Ludwick looked around at the cold and musty cabin filled with broken furniture and dust, feeling like he was kidnapped to a remote and desolate place.
“Why me? You know I am poor. I could only sell several loaves of bread per day.” he said with tears filled in his tired eyes. At that moment, a loud tap on the door interrupted him and a little white man in a shabby greenish uniform came in its holster with a rifle in his sacking. His face and hair were dirty, and, there was black blood on his clothes and shoes! “Are we shooting a movie?” Ludwick wondered as he looked at the soldier carefully.
The soldier asked, “Sorry to bother you, madam. I am from General Washington’s army. Would you like to offer us some food? Plenty of men in our camp are starving and suffering from disease. General Washington has already wrote to Congress for help. Do you mind?”
The lady signed, “Sorry, sir. I am afraid…”
Ludwick was shocked. Though he couldn’t figure out what was happening, there was only one thing he would be sure about- it was definitely not 2017. He turned out to the soldier and asked, “Sorry, bro, what date is today?” “It is November 3rd. What’ s wrong?”, replied the man, “Sorry, I mean, the exact year…”, Ludwick continued to ask.
“Oh, it’s 1777.” The lady turned around and said.
A chill swept across Valley Forge. The weather was turning colder, and the crisp morning air only meant one thing: the winter’s first snowfall wasn’t far away.
Washington’s army prepared to spend a winter here, in Pennsylvania. After a summer of hard-fought battles, the soldiers were all dispirited and discouraged. Actually, their food rations were hardly generous. Each men only had a concoction called “firecake”—flour and water mixed together and baked in iron kettles. On the good days, the cakes were tasteless but edible; on the bad days, weevils or maggots would have been found in the flour adding some extra protein to the their food source. The soldiers had meat every day, but instead of the juicy chop or bacon slab or delicious barbecue, what they had was a hunk of extremely salty meat.
“I know it is a hard time. Cheer up guys! We will get through these harsh conditions together. Congress will soon deliver food to us!”, George Washing shouted. He tried to rally his troops and boost their morale; but apparently, he failed.
Day after day, the conditions became worse than ever before. Several people had died in the camp, which was a great shock to the whole unite.
Christopher Ludwick gradually became familiar to the surroundings. He still lived in the lady’s cabin, helping her with the daily house chores and sometimes dealing with tramps in the village. The lady, Amelia Miller, was a smart and delightful young woman. Her father and brothers had joined the army several months earlier; so she lived on her own in Valley Forge.
Once, he walked in the countryside, and, by accident, ended up in the camp. He immediately noticed that the soldiers were in bad health. They lacked food and water. He felt really upset and wanted to offer his help. Later, he came up with an idea: “Why don’t I use some flour to bake some bread for them? I am a good baker.”, he thought to himself.
Later, with the help of Amelia and some neighbors, Ludwick collected much flour and different ingredients donated by the villagers. He promised to produce 135 pounds of bread for every 100 pounds of flour he was given, and did just that for the next five years of the war. His bread provided the one bit of culinary respite in the lives of an army of hungry men, though the bread was not that tasty as the bread he could bake in “2017”.
After the success of the revolution, he was invited to dine with General George Washington and Congress appointed Ludwick “Superintendent of Bakers, and Director of Baking, in the grand army of the United States.”
We would never know how would Christopher Ludwick traveled back to 2017. But he reopened his bakery on Fifth Avenue, but he definitely gain much confidence and hope for his future life and career.