The Dart: Pennsylvania woman brings friendship, baked goods to holiday open house

Published 12:00 am Monday, December 10, 2018

NATCHEZ — At the historic house Auburn, guests were greeted at the door with the festive smell of cinnamon, apple, citrus and a variety of old-fashioned and baked treats — thanks to an old friend coming to visit, Auburn’s hostess, Phyllis Feiser, said Sunday afternoon.

When The Dart landed in Duncan Park Sunday, Feiser said her best friend, Terri DeShong, had just come to visit for the annual Auburn open house. She comes as she always does during the holidays — all the way from New Oxford, Pennsylvania, a small town near Gettysburg.

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Feiser, formerly from New Oxford, said she met her best friend of 30 years during the planning of another special occasion — her marriage to Clark Feiser, who is currently the president of Auburn.

“She baked our wedding cake,” Feiser said. “I’m a yellow rose freak, and asked if she could decorate it with yellow roses. … We’ve been friends ever since.”

Feiser said she and her husband grew fond of Natchez during a few tours on the Delta Queen cruise. The couple moved here after they had both retired 13 years ago. Just as the yellow roses symbolize lasting friendships, Feiser said she didn’t leave her Pennsylvania friend behind.

“She is here to visit two weeks every December,” Feiser said. “She and her husband, Michael, come here every year.”

Each year, DeShong brings more than just her friendship. She also bakes delicious goodies for everyone to enjoy, Feiser said.

DeShong said she once owned a bakery in New Oxford for nine years, but later discovered she had cancer and sold the bakery 10 years ago.

“I’m very lucky,” DeShong said. “There is really a heaven because I’ve been down the tunnel of light and came back.”

Now retired and in remission, DeShong still enjoys baking for friends, she said.

“(The Feisers) moved here, and (my husband) and I would come here a couple of times each year and visit,” she said. “That’s just what I do. I come here and I bake.”

DeShong said she also enjoys sightseeing and attending Natchez festivals with her friend and even delved into the South’s history to bake pre-Civil War era sweets for the guests at Auburn, including pies, brownies, tea cakes, cookies, fruit cakes and a hot cider-like beverage called wassail that filled the kitchen with a holiday spice.