This story is dedicated to my kindergarten students to whom I never would have come up with the idea without. And also to Vicki, who helped me delve deeper into the silliness of the story.

Chapter 1

A ranch outside Casper, Wyoming 1906

“Please, for the sake of our children?”

“No. Lou you don’t even know my real name. Why bring it up after 45 years of marriage?” an exasperated Kid questioned.

“I’m not asking for me. You know I gave up on that the day we got married. You will always be Kid to me. I’m asking for our children’s children. As much as we think we’re immortal, death will be knocking at our door soon enough. They should know the legacy we leave behind,” Lou stated with fact.

Kid continued forcefully, “Then Kid and Lou Hunter is the legacy we’ll leave behind.”

With just a hint of irritation in her voice, Kid’s wife responded, “LOU? Did you happen to forget that my full name is LOUISE McCLOUD Hunter?”

“If you want to get PICKY darling your birthright name is Louise Boggs. Everything else is a lie. McCLOUD was your MOTHER’S maiden name, not yours. Hunter’s not even our true last name,” Kid brashly answered back.

“And whose fault is that? You weren’t willing to share YOUR last name with me.”

Tension between the couple swept the air like smoke from cigars as a saloon opened. At first there’s just a hint of the smelly mist, but within minutes the entire saloon is engulfed in a blinding fog.

With seduction evident in his aged voice, Kid decided to slice the looming tension. “Did I ever tell you how desirable you are when you’re irritated at me?”

A coy smile crossed Louise’s face. “Irritated doesn’t even begin to describe the feelings I have towards you right now.”

Walking up to his gray haired wife, Kid wrapped his arms around her. He noticed the wrinkles that lined her face. Hard earned wrinkles that were gained working side by side maintaining the ranch on which they lived. Wrinkles that began to appear around her eyes even from their Express days due to squinting the sun away while riding. Wrinkles from child bearing. Wrinkles from worrying about disobedient and missing children. Yes, each wrinkle was well earned. Each wrinkle, in his mind, beautified her face. He loved this woman more than he thought possible, and even now, his love increased for her.

“Okay, I’ll tell the children and grandchildren for the sake of legacy. But I never want to hear my name spoken. Therefore, my name will never be revealed while I’m still alive. Only after I’m dead will my true name be put along side ‘Kid Hunter’ in the family Bible. Promise?”

Lou looked at her husband. His weather worn skin, brown from the never ending sun in which he worked, sagged a bit as if it didn’t quite fit his face. Nevertheless, he was still handsome as ever to her. His deep blue eyes always sparkled with love. “I promise only on one condition.”

Rolling his blue pools backward as if knowing there would be a hitch, Kid asked, “You know I never could say no to you so what’s the condition?”

“It’s taken you this long to realize that you could never say no to me?” Lou joked.

“Ha, Ha. Now what’s the condition?”

“If you write your name and seal it up good and tight, I promise I won’t peak nor will the children peek until you are dead, ONLY if you make me your special cakes,” Lou said almost begging.

“Deal.”

Chapter 2

Casper, Wyoming 2001

“Hey I thought the sign out front said ‘express’ bakery!” a disgruntled traveler yelled.

“This isn’t express, this slow poke speed. How long does it take to get a cup of coffee and a simple doughnut in this village you all call the ‘largest city’ in Wyoming?”

A young woman behind the counter flashed him a wide smile. She was in her early twenties and had dark auburn hair pulled into a low pony tail that flowed to her mid back. Her blue eyes sparkled as she spoke kindly to the man. Inside she wanted to tear him from limb to limb for being so rude. Raising her voice to make herself heard through the crowd of customers she spoke, “The sign, sir, refers to the Pony EXPRESS. And since it took the mail a week or so to get delivered, I suggest that in the theme of things you sit a spell and enjoy looking over what we have to offer.”

The man named Brett slumped down at an empty seat next to a small round table. The table was old, it reminded him of his grandmother’s table that she bought back in the 50's. It had gold sparkles scattered about the solid plastic table top. The sun gleamed off of them and the reflections danced about his face, briefcase, and clothes. “Great, even the table scatters sunshine in this place.” Brett worked for the Denver Post. His job was to report human interest stories. His boss thought it would be a great idea for him to travel through Montana, Wyoming, North Dakota, and South Dakota and write stories about the down to earth people that built their homes in the least populated states. He found the trip boring and mundane. He was anxious to get back to a real city again. He was traveling I-25 south to return to Denver. With Denver less than five hours driving time away, he could taste his own anxiousness. That’s when it hit him–he was hungry.

Brett looked up at the bakery’s food options. This place was unlike any other he’d ever been to. The food options were more like a small diner, not a bakery. He read a few of the menu items out loud. “Louise’s Boggs? Wild Bill’s Doughnut Holes? Buck’s Swiss Rolls?” He began to look around. He saw western pictures hanging up–not too uncommon since he’d been engulfed in the western motif since his departure from Denver. But the pictures caught his eye. They were authentic pictures, brown from years past, and torn in places. These were not some K-mart Blue Light Special prints. He stood up and walked around. Brett was drawn immediately toward the man in fringe–Buffalo Bill Cody. Next to it was none other than the infamous Wild Bill Hickok. Wild Bill was young and almost innocent in the picture. He wore no beard nor moustache, but Brett could not mistake him. It was the legendary gunfighter in his youth. The plaque below it simply read, “Jimmy.” Next to “Jimmy” was “Our Family.” It was a group photograph of seven young Pony Express riders, a dirty station master, and a beautiful housekeeper.

As Brett continued to view the “photo gallery” he beheld a map of the Pony Express Trail with what seemed to be marked up with faded pencil scratches. He also paused and read a newspaper article about Wild Bill’s death. Feeling melancholy about the cowardly murder, Brett decided to focus his energy elsewhere. As his stroll continued about the small bakery, he noticed a museum type display with actual items encased in plexiglass. At first he thought it was a shrine dedicated to a famous celebrity. In this case, it wasn’t one celebrity, but a handful. Although these celebrities were not famous by the world’s standard, he knew they were celebrities in the blue eyes of the woman behind the counter.

The sun once again shining its rays through the bakery caught a glimmer of gold, much like the sparkles in the table that Brett was once occupying. He walked up to object behind the plastic glass that caused such a flash of blinding light, and crouched down to get a better look. It was a gold leafed family Bible. Next to it was a weather worn leather book–quite possibly a journal of some kind.

“Sir, are you ready to order?”

Startled, Brett jumped from his stooped position almost knocking down the young woman. “I’m terribly sorry ma’am.”

The matron spoke a little startled. “No problem, I didn’t mean to scare you like I did. I know you were in a hurry so I just thought that maybe you were ready to order.”

Brett didn’t even realize that the previous customers had not only ordered, but also left the establishment. He’d spent twenty minutes just looking and gawking at what the bakery had to offer. Returning to Denver left his mind, and he was enchanted by this out of character bakery.

“I’m not ready to order ma’am. But I would like to know what’s on your menu and the names behind the food.”

“Please don’t call me ma’am. It sounds like you’re addressing my mama and she’s not working today. I’d be delighted to tell you about our menu, but do you have an hour or so to spare?”

“Yes,” came Brett’s reply.

Surprised by the sudden change in the man, the young woman shook his hand. “My name is Sheri Hostess. Please call me Sheri. Sit down and I’ll explain our menu to you.”

Chapter 3

Brett and Sheri sat down at the “grandma table” as Brett now deemed it. Sheri handed him a menu. Before he even opened it, he pulled out his notebook and pen. Looking Sheri directly in the eyes he asked, “So where did you get all of the pictures and the Pony Express items?”

In shock Sheri gave him a puzzling look and stated apprehensively, “I didn’t realize I was under an inquisition.”

“Oh, I’m sorry. My name’s Brett Fuller. I’m a reporter for the Denver Post.”

“You want to do a story on our bakery?”

Brett smiled. “Well I’m not sure yet. I write human interest stories, and so far I’m interested.”

“Oh, so ‘villages’ like Casper are actually newsworthy, even for a big city like Denver?” came Sheri’s mocked response.

“Look, I’m sorry about the way I behaved earlier. I could give you a list of excuses, but I can already see that you wouldn’t buy them. So I’m simply asking for forgiveness.”

Much of Sheri’s characteristics were inherited from her ancestors. Her great-great grandma’s stubborn intuition and short temper were clearly evident. But she also inherited a soft heart from her great-great grandfather. “Well thank you for sparing me the excuses. You read people well Mr. Fuller. And yes I forgive you.”

“Thank you for the compliment. I guess doing human interest stories for the past ten years has allowed me to see into the windows of a person. And please, Mr. Fuller is my father’s name. Call me Brett.”

Sheri chuckled at his joke.

“Please tell me about your bakery. You mentioned that it’s named after the Pony Express.”

Sheri stood up from her chair. Pulling her keys out of her pocket she glided over to the plexiglass encasement, unlocked it, and pulled out the Bible and the leather bound book. She took her place again across from Brett. “My great-great grandparents were both Pony Express riders. This bakery opened in 1910 a year after their deaths.”

“How many of your great-great grandfathers rode for the Express?”

Sheri exploded into laughter. “I didn’t say my grandfathers, I said grandparents. My great-great grandparents Hunter, or to be exact, Hostess. You see my great-great grandma Louise disguised herself as a boy in order to earn money for herself and her siblings. She met my great-great grandfather Kid while riding for the Express.” Handing the journal to Brett, Sheri continued, “This here is my grandma Lou’s journal. If you’d like, you may read it.”

Almost with disbelief in his eyes Brett took the book. “A female Express rider. How fascinating.” He carefully took the priceless journal and delicately studied the cover as if it itself contained the story. “Are you sure? This isn’t too personal?”

“Now sir,....I mean Brett,.... you said you wanted to know the history behind our food. You’ll find it contained in that book.” With a wink Sheri continued, “Besides ain’t no one in this ‘VILLAGE’ who doesn’t know the history behind it.” Sheri rose from her seat. “I’ll leave you be. If you need anything just give me a holler.”

As Sheri walked back into the kitchen, Brett opened the first page. He read ravenously. Once he began reading he was transformed to the Old West. Brett read about disguises revealed, gunfights, justice served, bigotry, heartache, love, death, the Pony Express, and the 50 year relationship that a man and woman called Hunter shared. Most importantly he learned about the people of the Pony Express: vulnerable Jimmy; good natured half-breed Kiowa, Buck; gentle hearted mute, Ike; arrogant Cody; father figure Teaspoon; mother hen Emma; marshal Sam; determined free-man Noah; independent Rachel; duty bound Kid; and spry Lou. The later two eventually married and took the last name of Hunter in honor of their “father” Teaspoon. It was as if Brett knew these people. Realization hit him. Of course the pictures and newspaper articles were authentic. These were the people they represented. He stood up and looked again at the pictures on the wall. Faces were now real to him. He was able to identify each member of the “family” just by the descriptions that Lou wrote in her journal.

Brett didn’t even notice that six hours had past. He glanced up at the clock. It was now three in the afternoon. So wrapped up in Lou’s journal, the outside world vanished from Brett’s senses. He never heard the bell alarming Sheri of new customers. He never heard Sheri taking orders. He never saw Sheri cleaning up tables. He didn’t even realize that he’d be in Denver by now if he had not stopped. Settling back down in his chair, his stomach growled and Sheri exited the kitchen.

“I figured you’d be hungry by now,” Sheri said as she placed a cheese sandwich in front of him.

“Jimmy’s favorite,” came Brett’s grateful reply.

“Yep, you learn fast. It also happens to be item number 4 on our lunch menu–‘Jimmy’s Cheesy Sandwich.’ I’m not sure what you liked to drink, but I brought you a tall glass of Emma’s Lemonade. Are you ready to look at the menu now?”

“Yes. Please Sheri, have a seat.”

Chapter 4

Brett opened up the menu. A long, yellow sponge like cartoon character dressed as a cowboy jumped out at him. The character had hands and feet. The feet were clad in cowboy boots, the hands in gloves. The character was also swinging a rope in the air about to lasso what ever crossed his path. A blue kerchief with red hearts adorned the figure just below the face–where the neck would be if it had one. The face held a genuine smile–if such can be described in a cartoon. On top was a cowboy hat that read, “Twinkie the Kid.”

Brett immediately recognized the picture and a flood of childhood memories filled his brain. Memories of eating the sweet spongy cake and commercial lines popped around. “You mean to tell me that Twinkies were created right here in this bakery?”

Sheri smiled, “Well not exactly in this bakery. You see my great-great grandfather...”

“Kid!” Brett interjected. “Twinkie the Kid was named after Kid!”

“Not exactly,” Sheri admitted. “Twinkie WAS his name.”

Eyes became wide with shock on Brett’s face. He paused a moment and then said, “Twinkie was his REAL name?”

Without saying a word, Sheri only nodded in agreement.

“No wonder Kid never told anyone his real name. How did you find out? That wasn’t in the journal.” Brett inquired.

Sheri opened the gold leafed Bible. “It’s all in the family Bible. Kid and Lou decided to spill the beans for posterity sake. Although, no one knew of Kid’s name until after his death.” Sure enough, next to the written name KID HUNTER were the words TWINKIE HOSTESS–birth name.

“And Hostess! Your last name is Hostess. It’s all making sense to me now. The Hostess Company got it’s start here in Wyoming?”

“Sort of,” said Sheri. “You see, my grandmother Lou wasn’t much of a cook or baker. She tried of course and did well enough. Many were the days when the family ate a slightly burned meal. But one day grandpa Kid tried his hand at cooking. Much to Lou’s discouragement, Kid was actually a better cook. In time Lou’s pride was squandered and she preferred when Kid did the cooking, especially when it came to baked goods. Kid’s speciality was making a yellow cake with a banana-creme filling. They became Lou’s favorite. The recipe is still in the family today.”

Brett’s face exhibited a quizzical look, so Sheri continued with her narrative. “Not long after my family opened the bakery, we decided to name the cakes after Kid. Thus Twinkie was invented. One of the great-uncles decided he wanted to sell the cakes nationally. He moved out east and as the popularity of Twinkies grew, my great-uncle made more of the product line which you are familiar with today. Thus the company became Hostess–our family’s true name.”

“I can understand why Kid would hide a name like Twinkie, but how did the name Kid come about and why didn’t Kid use the name Hostess when he got married?” Brett continued the questioning.

“Twinkie came from a dime store novel that his mother had been reading. As Kid grew up he hated the name, for obvious reasons. His brother Jed started calling him ‘Twinkie the Kid.’ Soon after it just became shortened to Kid and it stuck. Kid grew up with an abusive father. He didn’t want anything associated with his father’s name. I think he feared the name held the curse of abuse. When he and Lou married, they agreed on the name Hunter.”

“So the cakes are really named after a Pony Express rider?” Quipped Brett.

Smiling Sheri answered, “Yep.”

“You mentioned that Kid made Twinkies out of a banana-creme filling. The ones in the store...”

“...Contain a fattening cream. That is true. Here at our bakery you can buy the prepackaged Twinkies or you can buy the real thing. We still make ‘em the way grandpa Kid did.”

As the information began to sink into Brett’s mind and transform itself onto his notepad, he looked up and stated more than asked, “So you’ve based this bakery on Kid and Lou’s Express family.”

Once again, Sheri only nodded.

“That also explains why it’s not really a bakery, but more of a potpourri selection.”

“That’s exactly what the riders were, a misfitted bunch .”

Chapter 5

Since Brett had a good background of the riders personalities based on Lou’s journal, he was anxious to see how those dispositions fit into the menu. Brett’s eyes scanned the candy section and read aloud, “Ike’s Sour Balls.”

“They’ll leave you speechless,” quipped Sheri with a smile.

“Noah’s licorice whips.”

“They come in black licorice, cherry, and strawberry flavors.”

Brett continued reading, “Lou’s Suckers. An outside hard candy shell. Inside you reveal the true disguise: soft gum.

Sheri pronounced with pride, “Yeah my grandma Lou sure did SUCKER the entire lot of ‘em. I bet they all felt like SUCKERS when they found out HE was a SHE. I bet those SUCKERS...”

“Quit trying to SUCKER me into buying one of those,” Brett interrupted with a wide grin. His eyes drifted back to the menu. They read the word ‘Entrees’. He noticed Jimmy’s Cheesy Sandwich and with doubt spoke, “Teaspoon’s Bloomin’ Onion?” Brett was trying to decide whether the idea of an onion cooked in any variety was worth eating.

“Customers have been quoted as saying, ‘Now THIS is a GOOD onion,’” Sheri matter-of-factly said.

“What is Sam’s Fork in the Haystack?”

“Have you ever eaten a haystack?” appealed Sheri.

“Sure, you have a bunch of rice and you place anything you want on it like green onions, olives, ham, pineapple. Then you top it off with those chow mein noodles and a sauce. It looks like you have a haystack piled on your plate,” Brett countered.

“We serve ours with a mini pitch fork stuck in the middle, the handle of course sticks out. We don’t want our customers to get a great big surprise like Sam did when he fell into the hay wagon.”

Brett rolled his head and let out a hearty laugh as the story from Lou’s journal reeled into his mind. He pictured all of the riders laughing and peeking into Emma’s house while she sewed Sam’s pants where the pitchfork left a hole.

As Brett turned the menu to the back it was filled with regular bakery items; muffins, cakes, cookies, doughnuts, and pies. However, there was a specific box dedicated to several bakery items named after a few of the riders.

Brett immediately started laughing again, “Louise’s Boggs -- Slightly burned delicacies -- 75% off regular menu price!”

“Yep,” Sheri proudly announced, “ We have the philosophy of ‘waste not want not.’”

“Buck’s Swiss Rolls? Wasn’t Buck half Native American?” Brett wondered out loud.

Sheri giggled and blushed. “Yes he was. But he married a Swiss immigrant. One day grandpa Kid caught them...,” Sheri looked down and couldn’t face Brett as she continued, “let’s just say he found them... ‘rolling in the hay.’ Grandpa Kid decided to name his ROLLED chocolate cake and vanilla frosting creation–you know them by their Hostess name as Ho Ho’s--after Buck. Kid thought it was a good way to prove to Buck how well he maintained his Native American beliefs ‘rolled’ within the ‘white man’s world.’ Buck questioned why he had to add the Swiss part to the name. Grandpa Kid would just smile and ask, ‘Do I really need to spell it out for you?’ At that point Buck would look away and dropped the subject. Poor Buck never did live the incident down. Buck’s Swiss Rolls were always a reminder.”

With no explanation needed, Brett wailed as he read out loud the next menu item, “Cody’s foot in the mouth fruit pies.”

“The pies are actually shaped in the form of a foot too,” glowed Sheri.

“Wild Bill’s doughnut holes. Let me guess, he shoots them out and we get to eat them?”

With consternation written on her face, Sheri responded, “But they never ASKED to be doughnut holes! Why can't they just be left in peace! But no... all the other doughnut holes keep trying to call them out!”

Brett chuckled at Sheri. He began to review the menu again. “I don’t see any food related to Rachel. Why’s that?”

Sheri let out a giggle, “It was a simple request by Rachel herself. Don’t you remember reading about it?” Brett looked stupefied as if Sheri was speaking a foreign language. “Oh that’s right,” Sheri said with understanding, “You didn’t read that story. Lou didn’t write it in her journal, but she did to Emma.” Sheri pulled out several letters that were stored carefully in the back of the Bible. “This is a letter that Lou wrote to Emma shortly after Rachel’s arrival at the station. Let’s just say when Rachel arrived, all the boys were INFATUATED with her. Here is just a clip from the letter:

Even though the boys were ogling her, she set them straight at dinner. She said, “Let’s get one thing straight before we go any further. Supper’s on the table gentleman, and I am NOT on the menu.” After that, the ogling stopped. I have no doubt that Rachel will keep the boys in line.

“So you see Brett, Rachel requested not to be on the menu and we honor that request.”

Brett shook his head at the literal logic Sheri just professed. He reached across the grandma table and took Sheri’s hand in his. “Thank you,” he simply said.

“For what?”

“For reminding me what human interest is all about. It’s obvious that you love your family heritage and hold it in high esteem.”

“Will you be writing the article?” Sheri questioned.

“Yes. I’ll bring you up a copy personally to share it with you.” Immediately Brett was self conscious as he stumbled over his own words. “Maybe it could... possibly..., if you....if your family will allow it that is..., be posted up on your wall with the rest of the newspaper articles?”

“That’s a terrific idea!” squealed Sheri. “What better way to share with others the history of a little Express family.”

The End

Author’s note: I must explain the story behind the story. I would have never come up with this idea without my kindergartners or Vicki. While studying the United States in preparation for a school wide Olympic Country Fair, my students wanted to know if certain foods came from the U.S. They listed the foods they wanted me to check. While doing my internet search, I came across this site: http://www.twinkies.com/static/whoistwinkie_02.asp . There was Twinkie the Kid staring right back at me. The thought crossed my mind, “That’s it!! That’s Kid’s real name!!” I was laughing so hard that I just had to email Vicki. I sent her an e-card. It was Twinkie the Kid’s picture telling her that I’ve finally discovered Kid’s real name. From there we bounced ideas about food and the riders. This happened back in March, and I’ve finally been able to put it into story form.

Dislcaimer: Twinkie the Kid and Ho-Ho’s are registered trade marks of Hostess. I do not own them nor do the people of TYR. Hostess did not originate in Wyoming. For more information concerning Hostess, Ho-Ho’s and Twinkie the Kid please visit the site: http://www.twinkies.com/static/whoistwinkie_02.asp

I also do not own the characters of TYR or The Young Riders show. They are the copyright of Ogiens/Kane Production. This was for fanfic purposes only. No infringement was intentional and no profit will be made from this story.

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