After a long school week, teachers and students alike look forward to Fridays at Fort Hays State University.
For those on the third floor of Rarick Hall, there is something more to look forward to: Fresh Bread Friday. That is the name given to the weekly appearance of freshly baked bread on the floor each Friday morning. The term was coined by graduate teaching assistants in the History Department, who heartily partake of the two loaves to be enjoyed each week.
"It is the best part of my Fridays," said Jackie Honings, a graduate teaching assistant in the History Department. "It’s a good start to your day."
Chris Mohn, chairwoman of the Department of Modern Languages and associate professor of Spanish, brings the bread to work with her early every Friday morning. Her husband, John Mohn, a retired educator and journalist, starts the bread-making process on Thursday afternoons and puts it in the oven at 4:45 a.m. on Fridays.
John Mohn has been making his bread for Rarick ever since the couple moved to Hays four years ago. He started making his bread when the couple taught in Indiana at University of Evansville. Different faculty members and staff brought in cheese and jam and butter to go with the bread.
"The purpose at Evansville was to unify the department," John Mohn said. "I wanted to keep doing it, and experiment. I learned how to bake by doing this."
John Mohn always has a loaf of rustic white bread each week and mixes up the second loaf. One recent week he baked a loaf of whole wheat with garbanzo flour, and another week it was cowpea chewy multi-grain. He types out the recipe and instructions for each type of bread and the sheet is left by the bread, along with a poem or interesting fact.
"I like to give them the rustic wheat every week," John Mohn said, "then I add something a little more exotic."
The bread is a big hit with the History Department. Chris Mohn said she knows she has to have the loaves there early for one history professor, who wants the ends of the bread.
"It smells delicious," said Marco Macias, assistant professor of history. "It creates memories."
John Mohn’s uncle was a baker, his father was a grocer and his grandfather was a miller. "There’s that baking thing in the blood," he said.
When the bread first started appearing, people at first weren’t sure what to think. But after an email was sent out to departments on the third floor, math and history professors and staff started to drop by the small room where the bread is on a table with assorted jams and butter.
"It’s great fun," Chris Mohn said. "It builds community."
Unlike at Evansville, where cheese was popular, in Hays it’s the basics.
"Hays people are butter people, and jelly," Chris Mohn said.
Chris Mohn said you better get your bread early.
"If you’re not there by noon, it’s gone, which is what we want," she said. "We want them to eat, enjoy it."
But by the end of the semester, Fresh Bread Friday will be all gone, too. With Chris Mohn joining her husband in retirement in May, the couple plans to move to Lawrence.
T.J. Setter, a graduate teaching assistant in the History Department, plans to enjoy it while it lasts.
"It’s bringing together a community of people who really don’t interact on this floor; we’re different departments," he said. "It tastes delicious, good for the soul."