In my grandmother’s back year, there was an
Apple tree, sour apples or cooking apples—I
Don’t remember if there were more than one
Tree-in my memory, the apple tree closest to
The back door, where we children played, was
The tree I remember best.
When the tree was laden with apples, ready for
Picking, Grandma sent my older brother, Jim,
Up the tree to shake some of the tree limbs so the
Apples would fall and could be collected in
Grandma’s big apron, or the grandchildren or
Daughters-in-law would help gather up the
Apples and carry them to a big round tub.
Grandma would put some of the best apples
Into a red wagon and a grandchild (often it was
Me) to take the wagonload of apples to the nuns,
The sisters who lived in a house behind St Leo’s
School. The kitchen sister would exclaim over the
Apples and offer me a piece of peppermint candy.
We would transfer the apples to containers that
Sister provided and I could then take the wagon
Back to my grandma’s house, which was right up
The street from St Leo’s – the church, the school, the
Nun’s house and the priests’ house were all in a
Row on St Leo Place.
Meantime, at Grandma’s house, the apples would be washed and then
Anyone who could handle a peeler or a paring knife
Would start peeling the apples, cutting away bad
Spots. I don’t remember that any of us children
Were allowed to handle the peeler—much less a
Paring knife. My mother and two aunts, Aunt
Annie & Aunt Dolly would spend the day peeling and
Cutting apart the apples. I imagine Grandma took over
cooking the apples in large pots
Some (perhaps most?) of the apples were turned into
Apple sauce. During the war (WW2) when sugar was
Rationed, the apple sauce was packed into canning
Jars sans any sugar. We had sour apple sauce in
The basement pantry for years after the War was
Over and sugar no longer rationed. When you put
Some applesauce on your plate you were allowed
To sprinkle on a small amount of sugar.
Grandma also made a lot of apple strudel, her
Specialty, and I imagine some of the best apples
were stored down in the grandma’s cellar, to be
use in future bathes of apple strudel.
I have a granny smith apple tree in my back yard,
Now, and I make apple sauce, all the while thinking
About my Grandma Schmidt and her apple tree—
Wishing—oh, how I wish that I had her recipe for
Grandma’s Apple Strudel.
–Sandra Lee Smith