RUMFORD — In the corner of the historic Rumford Falls Auditorium, on the second floor of the town hall, sits a cake behind glass.
And it's been there for nearly 13 years.
It's technically 10-plus pounds of fancy icing in the shape of a clock tower. The 2-foot topper was once part of the town's bicentennial cake, feeding 1,000 people. The topper is a shadow of its former 4½-foot-tall cake self.
Stephen Gallant visits it every once in a while.
The retired paper mill electrician is demure about his handiwork.
He fell into cake-making accidentally, back in the 1950s. Gallant was attending a party for his parents' wedding anniversary when an aunt said she doubted she'd make it to her own anniversary the following year.
He told her, "You'll be here to celebrate, and I'll make the cake."
That night, his father chided him. "'OK, big-mouth, now what are you going to do?'" Gallant said. "Somebody showed me how to make the roses, and it took off from there."
He's crafted wedding cakes. Family reunion cakes. A tall ski-jump cake with a hoop of frosted flames.
The replica of the town hall and its clock tower was his largest edible foray. He baked and decorated it on the eve of the July 1, 2000, bicentennial celebration.
Gallant is 75, a former Rumford Citizen of the Year, and, for the past 43 years, president of the local Snowshoe Club. That's where the cake took shape. He wove the fancy latticework in icing free-hand, laid it on waxed paper to harden, then assembled it in sections.
"I'd make extra pieces, in case," Gallant said. "Too much on it, the thing would break."
The original base was made of chocolate and yellow sheet cakes stacked on top of each other. Feeding 1,000 people took 56 cake mixes, 168 eggs and 90 pounds of frosting. The cake weighed in at 275 pounds.
The white frosting topper rests now on a decorated layer of foam. Made of egg whites, powdered sugar and lemon juice, the frosting is still bright white, though some yellow flourishes have faded. Its brown rooftop used to be black. Otherwise, it's in perfect shape visually, if not mechanically.
"At one time, all the clocks were working," Gallant said.
But batteries can't be replaced without breaking the frosting, so, one by one, all four stopped ticking.
"I knew it would hold up for a while, but I didn't know how long," he said. "It could probably be here indefinitely."
The auditorium space is used for meetings, music and theater events. The sizable cake case is tucked in a rear corner next to historic photos and an 1884 relief map of Rumford made for paper-mill founder Hugh Chisholm (though disappointingly, not made of frosting).
"The big question we get is, 'Where'd this come from?'" said Town Manager Carlo Puiia. "I have to go behind it all the time and shut the heat off. I'm very careful when I go behind there."
Weird, Wicked Weird is a monthly feature on the strange, unexplained and intriguing in Maine. Send photos, ideas and antique baked goods to firstname.lastname@example.org.