The passing of William Scantlebury of Betty Ann’s Donuts in East Boston, famous for his “sinkers” brings to a close another link to a childhood that was much simpler and easier than what our children are dealing with today.
The first time that my brothers and I tasted a “sinker” was in the mid 1960s when my grandmother would stop by our house on a weekday with her box of pastries from Betty Ann’s.
In the box there were an assortment of Danish — lemon and raspberry with plenty of icing, the cinnamon rolls, the chocolate chip cookies, maybe a pie or brownie but definitely a bag of “sinkers.” The caloric intake was not even considered as hands quickly went flying to get a share of the bakery stash.
For my family, going to Betty Ann’s was a treat on Sundays as we usually bought two dozen donuts – primarily jelly and hot. One would became accustomed to waiting in line and hoping that a new batch of donuts would keep on coming from behind the wall before the person in front of you took the last half a dozen.
Years of carefree childhood went by and then watching the waistline became more of a priority as one grew older.
But Betty Ann’s was always a treat on a limited basis and a link to a childhood.
Then one day after years of not going, I decided to take my youngest son at that time in the first grade for the experience while we were waiting for a plane to arrive at Logan Airport,. We went to Betty Ann’s for his first “sinker” and he was hooked as everyone has been for more than 80 years. Seeing the sugar covering the donut, he went wild. He savored every bite and finally announced that he should bring the donuts to his class because his friends would love them but maybe not the teachers.
That was more than seven years ago and in the years between then and now, he would always make me feel guilty if I drove home through East Boston and did not stop at Betty Ann’s.
Another link to my past is gone, but at least my son was able to enjoy a real “sinker” as I and countless other children had discovered in that magical time of our childhood and innocence. Hopefully, when he gets to be my age and sees an imitation, he will always think of a happy and carefree time in his life when one of life’s greatest problems was — who ate my “sinker”.
(Stephen Quigley is the President of the Independent Newspaper Group).