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


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