An apple pie never goes out of style

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By W.B. Evans

It had been as hot as a firecracker all week.

Truck convoys loaded with soldiers were a common sight, with maneuvers in full swing.

The Red and Blue armies invaded Lancaster from opposite directions. Campsites were set up wherever thee was a hint of a shade tree.

The fellas were making the best of it, too, roaming around from one group of GI’s to another.

Now, we didn’t profess an allegiance to either army. To tell the truth, our loyalty went to whichever group gave us the most stuff like those metal enameled unit badges. They were almost as hot as the weather.

We longed for insignia stripes, too, but seeing how we mostly made friends with buck privates, we were out of luck.

But things were sorta looking up; Hershey bars and Silver Bells may have disappeared from store shelves, but those soldiers would share those hard brick chocolate bars from their military C Rations boxes with us.

That meant the tried and true old trading method of “bartering” was going strong.

Soldiers loved to taste homemade foods. At the time, I didn’t know that my future bride’s grandmother had fixed up a squad of soldiers camped in the woods beyond their cotton field with baskets of fried chicken and hot cat head biscuits.

We had a group of soldiers from a Mississippi base within shouting distance.

That meant Mama’s fresh apple pies were highly sought after and she wasn’t about to disappoint the boys in uniform. When a big sack of sugar with “U.S.” markings on it magically appeared on our back steps, we weren’t about to grumble.

Mama and Aunt Bess had a wash-pot loaded with wool Army socks going full blast.

The soldiers weren’t too particular about getting their own back, either. They were grateful just having clean socks.

Mama said she felt like a mother to an army of young boys.

On the street, there was a lot of talk about a bunch of tanks coming in to fight the boys bivouacked here.

Now, I had seen an honest-to-goodness army tank manned by a crew of three or four fellas, but the thought of a caravan of ’em roaming around Chesterfield Avenue and Jacob’s Hollow was about more than I could stand. 

One morning, just before we were about to make our daily supply run to the campsites, it was so quiet you could hear the looms clacking at the cotton mill.

That’s when it dawned on us that the campsites had disappeared in the night. I guess they got scared off by the tanks.

Sitting around the front yard later that afternoon, we heard a rumbling sound like a herd of bulldozers in the distance and headed our way.

Bless Pete, Chesterfield Avenue is about to be invaded by a tank corps.  We saw some Jeeps and a command car with a big man sitting in the back.

Years later, we were sitting around and talking about old times wondering if that big man was Gen. George S. Patton.

Then, someone said that  “Old Blood and Guts” would’ve rode in a tank, not a car.

Suddenly, six tanks appeared, turned onto Market Street and parked in the shade area along the L&C railroad tracks.

I figured that meant that we were back in the bartering business. Bright and early the next morning, we strolled over to where the tanks were parked. At first, these tankers weren’t as friendly as the regular soldiers we got to know, but they kinda warmed up to us. 

They liked home cooking, too, which meant in no time at all, we were running  back and forth from home with pies, clean socks and hot biscuits.

Mama’s apple pies sure were good. Today, I wonder if there’s any of those  Mississippi boys around who miss ‘em like I do.

Tanks, trucks and military uniforms with stripes and unit badges may change every day, but a good apple pie never goes out of style.