Dancing Bears

Fredde and Doreen

Doreen and I have known each other since high school but it took years until we found each other again.  And we have REALLY reconnected.   A lot of us on the “other side of the tracks” in Beverly Hills  (south of Wilshire) gravitated to each other.

Most kids I knew then had the perfect, or seemingly perfect nuclear family; a mother, usually stay-at-home, a father, and 2.5 children.  (Why they never had a complete third child, I don’t know.)  Doreen, though, was being raised by a working, single mother. No father in the picture at all.  She was a latchkey kid before there was a term for it, a girl who cooked her own dinner at a very early age, and who often called her mother when it was getting very late, well past dinnertime, to ask when she was coming home.  She had made a meal and wanted her mommy there to share it with her.

Doreen is the ultimate caretaker.  But who out there is taking care of Doreen?

When it was getting close to her birthday, a big one, a few years ago, I asked her what she wanted to do for it.  She didn’t seem to want to celebrate.  And when I probed I found out why.  She said the expectations were too high – and what she really wanted were “dancing bears, confetti, and the Beatles playing ‘You Say It’s Your Birthday.’”  She said anything else would fall short.  So, why celebrate?

That’s when I orchestrated the plan.   I knew that my godson Dylan owned a real-deal, expensive bear costume, so I asked to borrow it.  I knew that it might be just the right size for my daughter Augie, whom I planned to enlist.  I asked Dylan to make a CD of the Beatles song.  Then Augie, a great sport, dressed as a bear, navigated her way from the Palisades to Hollywood in a car stuffed to the windows with party balloons.   Fortunately, in Los Angeles this barely turns a head.   She got to Doreen’s office on Sunset Boulevard after hours, but could not get in the door.  I got there, and somehow we managed to get Augie-the-Bear and her helium bouquet inside.   I’ll never forget the sight of my beautiful lifetime friend with confetti tears streaming down her cheek.  I jumped in to dance around her office.  It was a brief and memorable visit.

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In honor of both Doreen’s upcoming birthday and the one year anniversary of this blog’s  launch , I would finally like to share what is my very best kept secret and recipe, chocolate chip cookies.

When my kids were very small, I made them every single day.   I was so used to making them, it only took seconds to prepare – like making coffee for anyone else.  My house always smelled of freshly baked chocolate chip cookies.  I finally sold my teeny tiny oven to the neighbors, and years later they told me that whenever they cooked in it, the smell of chocolate chip cookies permeated their home.

I’m about to give up the hope of becoming the next Mrs. Fields by sharing this.

Just ran the idea of this piece past Doreen who wrote back saying  “And it’s fitting that it would go with a cookie recipe because that latchkey kid that I was always wanted to come home from school to her mom baking cookies….which of course never happened”

Fredde Duke’s famous chocolate chip cookies:

2 1/4 cups all purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt ( I don’t, just a touch )

1 cup (2 sticks) butter softened

3/4 cup turbinado sugar

3/4 cup dark brown sugar (packed)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 large eggs

add as many semi-sweet chocolate chips as you like and I often add macadamia nuts
bake at 375 degrees for 9-11 minutes

lets be honest here, it’s the Toll House recipe only the white sugar is replaced by turbinado and it’s my secret for 20 something years

during parties, I often like to have these baking and serve them fresh and hot to guests and I’m no Martha Stewart but it does get compliments

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13 Responses to “Dancing Bears”

  1. K Colton Tuggey says:

    Geez…How I enjoy learning about your life!

  2. FINALLY those COOKIES!!!! Can’t wait. Oh and by the way – you made me cry. Duke you are a true and loyal friend and I honestly think we would all be LESS without you. So sweet – I know Doreen must have been crying elephant tears!!!! I so enjoy your stories and I think we need a book. I’m sure you have at least one story about everyone in your life and it would tell the story of you. Soon to be a best seller. A great read just the way you say it.

    Thanks once more for sharing. XXOO

  3. Dianne Davis says:

    Great story – and what a wonderful friend! I like the part about no one in LA noticing Augie in a bear suit.

  4. toni miller says:

    This year I’m turning 59 and I’d love to do it in Paris! Any chance?????
    jl,jk,jk…. wonderful story and I’ll bake those cookies for my sister’s
    birthday next week. Love you Fredde!!! xot

  5. pauli moss says:

    Okay, Cristi said exactly what I was thinking. Book, book, book. You could be the NEXT Martha Stewart for those of us who actually care about substance as well as form.

  6. Eileen Mumy says:

    I LOVE the way you write!

  7. jennifer dudley arbaugh says:

    Freddie…. you and your words are a warm chocolate chip cookie! Please continue to write and write and write. I want to inhale the smell and taste of your words. When are you going to publish these stories for everyone to read???? xxxxxxxxxx Jenn E Fer from Cin City formerly Beverly Hills ABOVE Wilshire

  8. cutter lakind (camille cregan's beau) says:

    I found you! you’re fantastic and hilarious. keep it up. we must come see you soon.

  9. I was looking over comments on one of my previous posts and came across your comment suggesting I read this post of yours. I understand why. What a special friend you are to Doreen to really hear her wishes and to be there for her in a meaningful way. Sorry I didn’t see this sooner to let you know you were just tech savvy enough for me to find this post!

  10. Joy Aroff says:

    Oh Freddie: Now I know why you had the weird reading of “What’s this about chocolate chip cookies?” Had no idea you had this history and following for the inimitable Chocolate Chip. Sounds great, just a little different from mine. Maybe one day we will compare….or share and test. Enjoy reading ALL the adventures, brings everything and everybody to life. xo joy

  11. Christel Chesney says:

    You have to be the best friend ever!


  12. Richie says:


    I love you – and your cookies – and your devotion to your friends.


  13. Linda says:

    Growing up, Doreen always had the BEST birthday parties … ice skating, circus, swimming! When we moved here, I had to replace my small oven for a wider one … and one woth 2 baking racks. I went to store with my favorite cookie sheet in hand. And i make chocolate chip cookies with walnuts (more traditional and available here) … now I’ll think if you whenever I whip up a batch.

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