It was a different time and place in the Oklahoma of my youth. Back then there was no special taxes or levees. If a school or a church needed extra money they would have a pie auction. The local women folk would all prepare a homemade meal and a fresh baked pie to be auctioned off to the highest bidder. The winner of the bid would not only get a great meal, but also the company of the woman who cooked it. AND if he was very lucky and she was unattached, she might consent to a stroll under the bright Oklahoma moon, where he might even get a kiss. Now don’t get me wrong. This was in the days before sex was invented. Not even married folk did “it”. Makes me wonder how the species survived! Must be some truth in my grandmother telling me that I was found under a cabbage leaf … But I digress.
In addition to the auction there would be a barn dance, a fist fight out back for those with a grudge and a jug of moonshine for those with a thirst. Yup a good time was had by all.
It was in my thirteenth summer that I fist bid in a pie auction.
I had worked all week for Old Man Adams, the meanest stingiest man in the county. On Saturday I drew wages and hurried home. I washed up in a tub, as we didn’t have running water, used a little of the same grease to slick back my hair as I used to put a shine on my boots and got into my Sunday go to meetin clothes. In my excitement I had forgotten that I was riding Tippy, our mule. So back into my work clothes and out to saddle her up, before going back into the house to change again.
I arrived at the church only an hour or two early and was recruited to help set up chairs. Afterwards I stooged around hoping to see which female brought what picnic basket into the back room of the church. The rule was that only the auctioneer (in this case my uncle) knew which basket belonged to who. He told me that he would give me a signal when the basket belonged to someone I’d like.
Finally after what seemed forever, the auction started. No hawk ever watched a rabbit closer that I did my uncle. After a few decades (or so I thought) I had decided that he had forgotten about me. Then he looked straight at me and raised his little finger. I joined the bidding. The only problem was that Mike Sanders (My best friend and main competitor) and his rich pappy sat in the row ahead of me. Mike saw the signal too and figuring out what it meant, joined the bidding too.
Back inthose days money was money and most baskets were won around five dollars or less, but that amount was gone in about a minute and soon it was just Mike and I bidding against each other. The bid increased in fifty cent increments and eight dollars flew by so fast, I didn’t see it. Then the unheard of amount of ten dollars zoomed by and I’m starting to sweat. I only have fourteen dollars and twenty-five cents to my name. At thirteen dollars, I see Mike’s dad elbow him in the ribs and I won the bid.
She was beautiful. Though time has erased her name, I can still see her face. I have no idea of what was in the basket nor what kind of pie there was. For all I know I may have eaten the napkins too. She was down from Kansas visiting kinfolks, but was going home the next day. And yes, she agreed to taking a stroll and yes, I got my first kiss from a real live girl.
That evening as I rode home, old Tippy walked on clouds as my heart followed my mind somewhere north of the Kansas border.
And yuh now … to this day I like pie!