PHOTO: The group of a dozen or so pie ladies includes, front row from left, Betty Yount, Judy Mettler, Linda Burns, Marie Hein, Betty Wolken and Marge Stubbe. Back row, Kathy Lamont, Marge Lubben, Lois Paulsen, Carol Gillmore and Pam Recker. Absent from the photo were Emily Boots, Marguerite Orcutt, Rhonda Achenbach, Becky Orthner and Jani Telleen.
By Kim Brooks, Express Editor
Twice a month, more often during the holidays, a large group of ladies volunteer their time to bake pies. Not just any pies, these are the notorious gals who make up the Presbyterian Pie Service!
For about 30 years now, dozens of ladies in the community, many members of the First Presbyterian Church themselves, come together on Mondays and spend all day baking pies. Each has her job as part of the assembly line.
For the past several years, Pam Recker has been leading the pack, lining up volunteers, buying the groceries, taking the orders and making the pie crust. Recker said she doesn’t make all of the decisions, but takes the questions to the group as a whole.
They meet roughly twice a month on Mondays, which, for some, is a welcome to the week. While many dread Monday mornings, these gals enjoy coming together for a day of fun and fellowship.
With a dozen or so volunteers, they crank out over 2,000 pies a year! Take into consideration the fact that these ladies also bake 120 to 150 pies for both the 4-H and Lions Club food stands at the Great Jones County Fair each summer. Their pies are a hit!
Marge Lubben, who’s been baking pies since the group first started, said the tradition took hold during the church’s 100th anniversary celebration. The church ordered memorabilia for members and others to purchase to honor the church’s anniversary, but they ordered too much and had a lot of merchandise left over. To help offset the costs, a group of gals got together to bake and sell pies.
“It went over so well, that we’ve been doing it ever since,” Lubben said of the honored tradition. “We started small and grew from there.” Many of the original pie ladies still come to help, the oldest in her late 80s. This tradition keeps them all young at heart.
After the church’s devastating fire in March 2008, the ladies didn’t miss a beat, picking their business up and temporarily relocating to the Sand Springs Community Center.
“Our pies were needed then more than ever,” said Lubben.
Recker added, “We didn’t let that slow us down.”
While you don’t necessarily have to have baking skills, Recker said the trade is taught along the way.
Manning their stations on an early Monday morning, there’s a job for everyone. Recker makes the crusts. Marge Stubbe preps the pecans. Marge Lubben works on the soft pies. There are jobs for filler, baker and someone comes in after the baking is done to wrap each pie individually. Each of the ladies said it’s the time spent together that makes this an enjoyable way to spend your day.
The pie ladies, as they are affectionately called, make both hard and soft pies, crust and cream topping. They work from 7 a.m. to noon, taking a break for lunch to catch up with one another. Recker said they keep so busy baking that there doesn’t seem to be time to share news with one another.
Above all, their most popular request is triple berry pie with a crumb topping. Other fan favorites are strawberry rhubarb, pumpkin and peach pie.
During the holidays, they stay busier than normal, which is understandable. Lubben said Thanksgiving and Easter are their busiest holidays, with January and February the slowest.
“People usually go on a diet right after the holiday season,” said Lubben.
By running their ad in the Monticello Express, announcing their baking days, this gives loyal and new customers an opportunity to place their orders. Lubben said they usually tell people to pick up their soft cream pies on baking days. They offer both baked and unbaked pies, allowing customers to take the pie home and bake it themselves if they so choose.
“We sell about half and half of the baked and unbaked,” Lubben explained.
All of the money goes towards Monticello’s First Presbyterian Church.
As for the special pie recipes, they usually follow the same recipe they’ve been using all these years. Occasionally, they will get special requests and have people bring in a favorite recipe as well.
“We make special pies for diabetics, too,” offered Recker. “It’s a lot of trial and error with recipes.”
As for why they all enjoy spending a Monday morning baking, it simply comes down to the friendships formed, support of one another and the labor of love.
If you wish to order a pie, call 319-465-3393 to place an order.