Shoofly Pie

So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. 

(I Corinthians 10:31 ESV)

pie dish and typewriter picture
Grammy’s well-used earthen pie dish and manual typewriter

Grammy loved to bake, cook, garden, and sew. She was delighted to share the fruits of her efforts as gifts to others. Grammy’s Pennsylvania Dutch home was my favorite respite. While meat and potatoes were a staple of the Pennsylvania Dutch meals, schleck (Pennsylvania Dutch for sweets) was a requirement after every meal—yes, even breakfast.

When I stopped in to visit with her, we talked about family news while she made Shoofly pie—my favorite schleck.

Despite her heavily veined, arthritic hands, she pinched the freshly made pie shell edges into points. Then she added just the right amount of each ingredient to make her mother’s Shoofly pie. Oh, how my mouth watered with anticipation to taste the crumb-topped cake layered on the gooey-bottomed pie.

While Grammy baked, she told me stories of her childhood days. Each Saturday, local farmers came to the Pottstown, Pennsylvania Farmer’s Market to sell their chicken, beef, vegetables, and baked goods.

Starting Thursday morning through to Friday night, Grammy and her mother made Funny Cake, Shoofly, apple, and cherry pies. Early Saturday morning, they walked the three miles to market pushing a handmade wooden cart laden with the pies.

My great grandmother’s pies were quite popular. Customers lined up in front of her market stall, and even spilled over into the space in front of the neighboring stalls. They wanted be sure to have pie for Sunday dinner.

Interestingly, another pie purveyor, Amanda Smith, also sold her baked goods at the market. You may know the name—Mrs. Smith’s Pies—from your grocery store experiences. Robert, Amanda’s son, built the Farmer’s Market business into the giant it is today.

As I watched Grammy’s gnarled hands, my thoughts drifted back through my own childhood memories and stories my father shared. This kind woman sought opportunities to share her love with others. Her hands made dinner every Sunday for her family of 19. She never let anyone bring food or cook because these meals were her gifts to us.

Not wanting to muss her dress with stains as she baked, Grammy put on one of her handmade aprons. The aprons tied at her waist with the traditional pocket in its skirt. Grammy was a 5’4”, medium-build lady who always pulled her gray hair into a bun in the back of her head. She donned the typical wire-rimmed granny glasses that fit snuggly over her ears. She wore stockings and laced shoes with wide heels. Her teeth were in her mouth at all times, except bedtime. Teeth in a glass on the bathroom sink always made me laugh, until I realized that might be me one day.

Grammy’s first-hand experience with the Great Depression shaped her into a frugal lady who knew that hard work was a necessity of life. Later, these disciplines benefited her greatly when a driver, who slid off a snowy road, killed her husband. She was left with three children between the ages of 10 and 14. My Grammy got a job at the local business school teaching typing on a manual typewriter. When she came home to her three children, she would begin her other jobs—mother, cook, baker, and seamstress.

While the children were doing their homework, Grammy’s industrious hands made their clothes. Many times she disassembled her husband’s old suits and used the fabric to make the children’s clothes.

Suddenly, Grammy’s sweet voice interrupted my thoughts, “Honey, will you put the schleck into the oven for me?”

“I sure will!” I eagerly replied.

Grammy’s ever-busy hands demonstrated the love of Jesus—doing all for the glory of God.


11 thoughts on “Shoofly Pie

  1. Doris September 29, 2015 / 8:00 pm

    Cindy this is beautiful!! It brought sweet tears to my eyes! Love you! Mom


  2. dotlatjohn September 29, 2015 / 9:35 pm

    I just love this. Your grandmother was quite a woman!


  3. Roberta Brosius September 29, 2015 / 10:23 pm

    It’s amazing to think how hard some of our near ancestors worked just to keep the family going. I think I have it pretty easy. I did want to say that “schleck” sounds Yiddish!


  4. Helena Davies September 30, 2015 / 3:41 am

    A Proverbs 31 woman.


  5. Ginger Dorr October 7, 2015 / 10:43 pm

    Fabulous Cindy, I never knew the history of Mrs. Smith and Grammy. but I do remember the love Grammy passed onto us through her wonderful family dinners and I can almost taste the Shoo Fly Pie.again.



  6. Pat Smoker October 13, 2015 / 8:37 am

    Cindy, I thoroughly enjoy your stories. I always look forward to the next one.


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