Sprinkle baking soda over dates. Add 1 cup boiling water and 1/2 cup butter. Mix 1 1/2 cups sugar, 1 1/2 cups flour, and cinnamon. Add to date mixture. Add nuts and 1 tsp. vanilla. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes in 9x13 pan. Cool. Combine brown sugar, 2 Tbsp. flour, and 2 cups water in a saucepan. Bring to a boil. Add 1 tsp. vanilla, 1 Tbsp. butter, and salt. Cool. Serve over date pudding. Add Cool Whip, if desired.