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SMITH: They'll sell the last loaf of Wonder

Twinkie jokes aside, tears fall at the decades-old Hostess/

Wonder Bread outlet on Sebastopol Road and the women at the register struggle to stay employed to the last possible day.

"Everybody thinks we've closed," lamented manager Beverly Ramirez, who has worked at the bakery thrift shop for nearly 29 years.

Though the huge Hostess Brands Inc has shut down operations across the country, Ramirez is trying to keep open the landmark southwest Santa Rosa store until it has sold its final loaf of Wonder Bread and box of Hostess Donettes.

The shop's last Twinkies, Ho-Ho's and fruit pies are gone, snatched up soon after Hostess Brands announced that it could not come to agreement with its union bakers and would liquidate.

But when I dropped by the store Monday, there were still chocolate Hostess CupCakes, doughnuts, fruitcakes, hot dog rolls and plenty of bread.

"We've got Home Pride bread. And Colombo sandwich rolls," said soon-to-be-unemployed clerk Darlene Washington. "You'll never see those on the shelf again."

Her boss and friend Ramirez, who hired on at the Sebastopol Road store in June of 1984, said tears are shed by longtime customers coming in to say good-bye.

As pundits and more than 18,000 abruptly out-of-work Wonder Brands employees debate who was at fault for the company's failure, Ramirez said Wonder has always been good to her.

"I have enjoyed working for this company. They gave me everything they promised me," Ramirez said.


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