University of Notre Dame

The Story of Notre Dame
Brother Aidan's Extracts

WILLIBRORD, BROTHER (Geradus Polman -- Died Feb. 22, 1938)


        I sing the buns of Notre Dame,             I warb their beamish beauty.         I chaunt their charms with heart aflame,             For chaunting is my duty.         I strum for all her shining sons,             Departed and aborning,         Those beamish, beatific buns             We got on Sunday morning! 

        The crust an aromatic brown,             As fragrant as the Indus,         You should have seen us shuffle down             As much as they could sind us.*         O, coruscant, collegiate grub,             O pabulum adorning         The platter of the veriest dub             On sunny Sunday morning. 

        O, Notre Dame, the years have fled,             Since your professors caught me,         And I remember but your bread,             And not the stuff you taught me.         Your 'isms, 'ologies, and 'ics,             Were nothing to be scorning,         But what are 'ologies to micks             With buns on Sunday morning! 

        'Tis true the ancient slickers had             A lot of fancy chefers,         Ambrosia was a snappy fad             Among Olympic zephers,         But for their fodder and their fun --             Believe a gypsy's warning --         I would not trade the palest bun             We got on Sunday morning. 

        * Hibernian rhyme. 

              -- J.P. McEvoy in Chicago Tribune, reprinted in                   N.D. SCHOLASTIC 49:397 (18 March 1916). 

"Bread is the staff of life to the man who eats it, but to Brother Willibrord, baker for the University, it's just one loaf after another. And decidedly so, for during the 20 years that he has held his position, he has contributed 2,160,000 loaves of bread to the wants of the hungry.

"These loaves, which are 18 inches in length, if placed end to end, would reach from South Bend to Pittsburgh, a distance of approximately 600 miles. Moreover, this 'bread line' would be six inches in thickness and seven inches in width.

The presence of 43,000,000 buns and cookies, would provide 'stepping stones' alongside the 'bread line' and complete a way which would prove a 'road of plenty' to even starving Russia.

"Since the bakery was established in 1902, 300 loaves of bread with 3,000 each of buns and cookies have been the daily output. Baking begins at 2:00 in the morning when buns are placed in the oven. At 2:30 the 'sponge' which is the foundation for the dough is prepared. After the bread dough has been mixed, it is run through a set of rollers which causes the air contained in the cells to be expelled. The dough is then made into loaves and placed in a 'proof' box. Steam is then used to make the bread rise. After an hour, the dough is taken out, having in the meantime risen to the desired height, and put into the oven where it is baked for an hour and twenty minutes.

"Incidentally, the bread is baked in units of three loaves each. When placed in the oven the unit weighs fifteen pounds, but upon being taken out is found to have lost one pound, due to condensation.

"Two ovens are used each day, the capacity of each being fifty units or 150 loaves of bread. The process of baking consists of storing heat in such a way as to have 'dead heat' at the time of baking. Fire is kept for twelve hours preceding the time of baking. In some cases the fires are kept up on Saturday in preparation for the baking to be done Monday. The latter way, however, it is said, necessitates a loss.

"From the bakery the University, St. Mary's Academy, St. Joseph's Hospital, the Novitiate, and the three houses of study are provided with bread and delicacies. Of the total amount, but 200 loaves are sent to St. Mary's. . . . In the light of what Brother Willibrord has accomplished it would be safe to say that the 'Bread line' some day will perhaps even extend to Russia"-- Notre Dame "Daily News," January 31, 1927.

Rev. John Talbot Smith, pastor of Dobbs Ferry, New York when returning from here always brought a bag of Brother Willibrord's famous N.D. buns.

See "Brother Columbkille." (Alumnus, 9:156). 1938

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