This morning I was reading the newspaper online... and saw a recipe for "hand held apple pies." It brought back a memory of my Mom. She was the queen of apple pies. Her pie crust was envied by many women in our family. A fine, flaky crust. She had been making pies since she was a girl. My Grandma sold pies to help keep a roof over their heads during the depression. She had six children and little support from her husband. Grandma would bake pies and my Aunt and Mom would take them in their wagon to the neighbors to buy. She had many regular customers. Grandma made lunches for the teachers at a nearby school. The teachers would come to Grandma's house and eat their homemade lunch for a small fee. They did so many things involving food to earn money. Well, I can imagine little girls in aprons, around Grandma's table learning how to make pies. Mom brought that talent to her marriage. Apple pie became my Dad's favorite dessert. He always had it for his birthday. After enjoying many of these pies myself...I was excited, when there was an apple pie contest, sponsored by a bank in a nearby town. Without my Mom's permission, I entered her name. I called her later and told her what I had done. I knew that she would be shy about doing this...so I took the bull by the horns and went ahead and entered her name. Well, that began a quest for my Mom and Dad. They searched out the best apples from the groceries and farm stands. What apple would she use? A Macintosh was her favorite...should she mix them with Cortlands? As she went through the produce department I can picture her today...whistling her little tune and feeling the apples and giving them a sniff. She was in a frenzy and I imagine she lost sleep over it. I called her and said, "Mom, just make the pie like you usually do...they are delicious just the way they are." Poor Dad....he made many trips to the store to get the freshest apples and even a new can of Crisco. It had to be perfect. Dad called me, "Your Mother is in such a dither over this. She is sweating even." I was really sorry that I had put her through this stress. The day came to bake the pie...There was no eating in that kitchen that day. They had to eat out, because she needed to concentrate on her pie baking. She baked one pie...not perfect. Then she baked another.Dad enjoyed eating the first one. I got the phone call that it was ready and it would be taken to the bank for the judging the next day. She called, after she dropped the pie off, "They really should have judged it today...it's better fresh, right after it's cooled," she said. She had told me early on, that she wouldn't go alone to the contest. "You got me into this...you will go with me." I went to pick her up in the morning and we entered the building. Her eyes, big as dollars, told me how nervous she was. Why had I gotten her into this?We walked around the long table filled with pies. All of a sudden...Mom's demeanor changed. She became the authority on apple pies. "That one's too brown, that crust doesn't have a fine crumb, that pie crust sunk in, that one is full of air and so on." There her pie sat....just a beautiful pie, a little juice leaking through the simple pattern of cutouts on top, a fork crimped edge...just the right shade of brown...it sat, unadorned in a simple pyrex pie plate. We both thought her's was the winner. We sat down and listened to the man from the bank...he said that the winner would have to appear on the radio show the next morning. I felt Mom sink deeper in her chair. She would never do that. Now, she didn't want to win. She said, "Oh, I hope I don't win...there are other's better than mine." I laughed and said, "Mom, I'll go with you...don't worry." The judges sat down and started to sample the pies. They hesitated when they tried her pie...she was nervous... I said, "How can they possibly judge after sampling all those pies?" The judges kept going between hers and one that was decorated with leaf cutouts on the edge. They finally made their decision...the fancy one was the winner. I saw Mom's face brighten...she said, "I'm glad that young girl won...I'll have to listen to her on the radio." All the entrants got a cookbook and an apron. She proudly showed them to Dad, when we met him for lunch. It was something that we never forgot. Everytime she would make an apple pie after that...she and I would look at each other and grin. She was the winner that day...she didn't have to appear on the radio show.