Since the early 1960s, Mrs. Pose has been, arguably, Baltimore's most famous dessert baker. The signature cheesecake she began selling in 1962 remains a staple of local restaurants, country clubs and delis. She says it has "the texture of ice cream."
Her name is Lois Gibbons (she was once really Mrs. Posey) and lives in Sebring, Fla., while spending the summer and Christmas at her daughter's Lutherville home. She plays golf three times a week and only stopped cleaning her own house when her right leg developed a meniscus tear.
She is 81 and married to Joseph Gibbons, a retired Black & Decker accountant. They courted at Pimlico Race Course.
Born Lois Lawrence at Fordham in the Bronx, N.Y., and raised in Connecticut, she moved to Baltimore in 1955 and soon began waitressing at the old Eager House, the Chesapeake, Harvey House and Town House.
"I wanted to support my kids," she said. "My marriage wasn't working."
She also worked the lunch hour at the old Love's Restaurant, at 25th and Charles. One day she brought her homemade cheesecake to work. The owners liked the taste, as did the customers. She then started baking the cheesecake at her Govans home.
"I was always a worker," she said, adding that when orders for her cakes began coming in, she had to dash out to the old Hochschild Kohn store at Belvedere Square for extra springform pans.
She got a publicity lift when a New York Mirror writer tasted her cheesecake at the old Chesapeake Restaurant, and wrote a column about her hard work. She went into cheesecake making full time after her divorce from city police officer Donald Posey. She modified it to Pose (and pronounces it Po-ZAY).
Today her daughter, Susan Posey Harris, owns and operates the family business (Original Cheesecake Pose) in Pikesville, where nearly 25 people work in the high season.
"I am surprised that I've outlived Silber's and Rice's bakeries," she said the other day. "I had a lot of energy, and if somebody said 'I need 50 cakes by tomorrow,' I would not turn them down."
Her family nicknamed her Scarlett, after the character in Gone with the Wind.
"I felt like Scarlett when she ate that dirty turnip and said, 'As God is my witness, I'll never go hungry again,' I was going to show 'em," she said.