I Like Pie

I have posted this before, but it seems to have vanished. Hope that you enjoy it. JC

It was a different time and place in the Oklahoma of my youth. Instead of Special Taxes and Levees when as school needed new text books or play ground equipment they would raise money by having a Pie Auction. A Pie Auction is where the local ladies would make picnic baskets including a homemade pie and the menfolk would bid on them. The winner not only got a great meal, but the pleasure of the company of the woman who prepared it. If he was lucky and she wasn’t spoke for, she might even consent to take a stroll under that bright Oklahoma moon and if he was very Lucky he might even get a kiss.

Now don’t get me wrong. This was back before sex was invented. Not even married folk “did it”. I really don’t understand how our species survived … But I digress.

These social functions were popular and had something for everyone. After the auction there’d be a barn dance for the lovers, a jug out back for those with a thirst and usually a fistfight for those with a grudge. Yup. A good time was had by all.

In the summer of my thirteenth year I attended my first auction as a bidder.

I had worked all week in the hot summer sun clearing brush for Old Man Allen, the meanest cheapest man in the county. He was so cheap the bologna sandwich he furnished for lunch to the hired hands cost them a dollar.  When you are making fifty cents an hour that is a costly meal.

On Friday I drew wages and headed for home where I spent the evening shining my boots with lard, wiping the wrinkles from my Sunday -Go-To- Meeting clothes and scrubbing my hide in a Number Three washtub. (Our water came from a well and was heated on a wood burning stove) Saturday dragged like Cousin Raymond pulling that plow the year Tippy the mule went lame. But by the time I finished my chores it was almost time to go.

I changed into my fancy duds only to find that Tippy just had a nice dust bath. So it was back inside to change into my work clothes while I brushed her down and saddled her. Redressed in my good clothes we started for the Reverend’s  house where the auction was to be held.   Arriving a couple hours early I was put to good use setting up chairs and tables. Once finished I stooged around watching people starting to arrive.

A few days earlier my Uncle Howard, who was the auctioneer and I made a plan. The baskets were numbered and no one except my Uncle knew which basket was made by who. He promised he’d give me a sign when the cook was someone he thought I’d like.

It seemed like forever until the auction started with everyone exchanging “how do’s” and gossiping about stock prices and who was the witch that turned Mr. Reynold’s cows milk sour. Then finally the auction began.  I grab a chair and realize my best friend and chief competitor Woody Franks and his rich daddy are sitting right in front of me.

No hawk ever watched a rabbit any closer than I watched my Uncle, but the beds rolled on and on without him even glancing in my direction. I began to think that he had forgotten about me when suddenly he looked me right in the eye and raised his little finger in the sign we had agreed on and the bidding began. The only problem was that Woody saw the signal too and figured what it meant.

Back in those days money was money with most high bids in the four or five dollar range, But that amount was soon long past with just Woody and I bidding against each other in fifty cent increments.  When he bid the unheard of amount of ten dollars I start to sweat. I only have eleven dollars and fifty cents to my name.  Determined to do or die I brought the bid up a buck instead of the usual fifty cents and saw Woody’s dad dig an elbow into his ribs which ended the bids.

She was beautiful.

While the strains of time has erased her name and what was in the picnic basket, if I ever knew. I may have eaten the paper napkins as well. She was down from Kansas visiting kin, but was going home the next day. Yes she consented to a stroll and yes I got my first kiss from a real live girl.

On the way home Tippy seemed to be walking on air while my mind followed my heart somewhere north of the Kansas border.

To this day I still like pie.

JC