The Thanksgiving Cherry Pie
I have just recently remembered this story and although the events are exactly true I have forgotten the names. The people my mother remembered and she could have fleshed this story out, but I'd rather tell it as the seven year old that it happened to.
I think it was Thanksgiving, 1954, we lived in Illinois, recently arrived from Alaska and now living in the college and industry town of Rock Island. My father was a college student with two years to go and then Seminary and well I just knew that my mother worked at the college press and daddy went to school like my brother and I.
We were not destitute but we were my today's standards, poor. We qualified for food stamps had they had them. So when these nice people invited us to their home, in Cable Illinois, for Thanksgiving, I'm sure the Christian spirit of giving and receiving along with the fact that we could not afford to entertain so lavishly made the acceptance of the invitation, very easy.
These people lived as I recall on some property out from whatever town Cable is or was. I don't recall any other homes and I can see this place as a large house with many rooms and a large yard or wooded surrounding acres. I do remember quite clearly a large well stocked dining room where the Sunday manners were expected to be used and swift punishment if they weren't. Dinner exactly I don't see so clearly but immediately following the men were off to their philosophical discussions, the women to the kitchen to clean up, and the children scooted out of the house to wear off lunch. But the last thing as we left was the knowledge the pie making was about to begin.
Outside I only see the man of the house handing me a BB gun. Now I was not trained in guns at the time and had only rudimentary knowledge of them and I sort of recall my father inquiring as to whether it was loaded and being told it was not. I did not hear any BB's so I suspected the idea was that the children, especially the boy children were about to launch an invasion of Germany or go hunting the Sons of Japan, lobbing in stiff arm fashion pine cone hand grenades and screaming "gotcha" "bang, pow, be-ow be-ow" as we held off the Banzai charges or the screaming Hun counterattacks. I think however that is not what actually happened.
I seem to recollect that I was by myself, cocking and shooting and pretending and that the old children were off doing older children things and I was shunned away from their activities. There may have been another child my age but I don't have a memory of him. I do know what happened next however. I had the weapon cocked and slung over my shoulder aimed behind me which just so happened to be in exactly the direction of the house and it's very elaborate windows in the dining room. I just pulled the trigger and "poop" the little gun snorted and "ping" I heard the BB strike the glass some distance behind me. The BB penetrated the glass and exited the glass leaving a nice, neat, round hole.
Well I figured that I was dead either way. I walked the short distance to the house and looked up at the dining room and you couldn't miss seeing it. It was not a large spot and as holes went, well it might be overlooked. But I was mortified. I already knew I was in for it but really what hurt was having my first good look at a real BB gun and blowing a hole through the nice man's dining room glass. It was at this point that the men folk either appeared at the window from the inside or I was met on the outside but inevitably I was asked did I shoot the hole or I said first I shot the hole. My father looked horrible; I expected the wrath of God Almighty. The nice owner looked intently at the hole and then at the gun still clutched in my puny shaking hands. I waited for the chopper's axe.
"Well I gave him the 'unloaded gun', not his fault."
Holy Cow I had escaped. Can't get a whipping when the good owner has pronounced himself the offendee and offender all in one breathe.
"Let's go in the house it's cold."
Last of it being said and forgotten. But not quite.
The ladies were finishing the dishes and fixing the most marvelous pies as we "men" entered the home. Thirty minutes to an hour and it would be pie and coffee time. The hole was examined from the inside now; it was a clean neat hole. The men went back to their conversations and the woman went about their scurrying. An eternity passed waiting for those pies. Cherry, apple, pumpkin, Thanksgiving before the Dallas Cowboys.
Now ladies and gentleman the story gets unbelievable but I swear it's true. The hour passed, the pies were set about the dining room table. The coffee was poured and prayers administered for the sake of our bodies and the destruction of a good pie.
"Kent, what pie would you like."
And whether it was the first piece or the last I can not say. But a nice tall piece it was. The kind you see on a can of shortening. I took my fork and sliced down through the two crispy crusts and a mound of cherries. I lifted it into my mouth and began to savor the moment.
"Did you get a cherry pit?"
Every one knew that the makers of canned cherries added one pit to each can so luck would be granted to one lucky pie eater. I knew that anyway.
"No, no pit."
I reached into my mouth, "Use a napkin young man, please!" And withdrew an object from my mouth. It was not the BB. But it was the glass that had been in the hole. A small round piece of glass that fit exactly the hole in the window. Blasted clean out of the window into the pie as the ladies made them in the kitchen directly on a path from the glass through the dining room, out the kitchen-dining room swinging door and into the pie and into the piece of pie that was baked in the oven for one hour and then served to me. Exactly as I have told it.
February 17, 1998