Sunday, February 21, 2010

Easy Bake: Bye Bye Ronald Howes, Sr.

One of the (many) ways that I know my father loves his children more than life itself:

He would never fail to eat the wide-ranging variety of Easy Bake treats that we had waiting for him when he came home at the end of a long day.

He could probably see it in his nightmares, that harvest gold chamber of horrors out of which we would produce endless half-baked devil's food cupcakes, and what I seem to recall being white or yellow cake with probably toxic amounts of sprinkles baked right in. Rainbow cake? If that's what it was called, then it appeared at the end of the saddest sugar storm in the world.

My father was lucky in many ways. He ran his own successful professional practice, my zany aunt was his non-stop funny receptionist, and his offices were located in a wide variety of oddball spots in the city. He participated in some of the oil discoveries that define this boom/bust/boom/bust/boom city. A good man--really, one of the best men ever--deeply decent and thoughtful, a man who did his best to do the right thing, always.

And yet, at the end of nearly every work day, he had to pay a bizarre, artery-choking penance dealt to him by the vengeful Kenner gods. He must have asked himself Why Why Why? more than once. I imagine him outside at night, slowly covered by drifting snow, clenching his fists to his temples and trying to dislodge the memory of those soggy cupcakes from hell.

Ronald Howes--a very lovely man by all accounts, despite some dark rumors about certain things he created for the "defense industry"--died yesterday, at roughly the same age as my father. I think dad will take some comfort in knowing that he outlived the man behind the Easy Bake Oven and its gastric assault on his 1970s middle-class suburban dream. I'm going to fix him some (fully baked) ultra chocolate brownies tomorrow and thank him for his many acts of selfless fatherliness.
RIP Ronald Howes, Sr.

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