Sunday, October 3, 2010

Mabel's Kindness

Last week we had a supply of apples (some donated) that needed to be made into pies - quickly. I was faced with the dilemma of trying to prepare three pies while simultaneously working full-time, attending war-bond meetings, organizing the next scrap metal drive and providing wholesome, well-rounded meals to my family. What was a rationing mother to do?

Luckily, sweet little Mabel came to the rescue. Gray-haired Mabel lives down the block from us in a dainty white house. Her peonies are always gorgeous and she makes the most delicious caramel popcorn balls for the neighborhood kids at Halloween. Mabel is very active in the war effort, volunteering her time for several community organizations including the Red Cross and her women's church group, which sends care packages oversees to our boys fighting those Nazi monsters.

One day I came home to find Mabel on our doorstep. "I thought you could use these," she said as a simple smile graced her face. In her outstretched arms was a circular tin...and inside the tin (separated by sheets of wax paper) where six beautiful, supple pie crusts! "I heard from little birdies that you were concerned you didn't have time to get everything together to turn those apples into pies."

Behind me I heard Sissy and Eowyn giggle as they ran out to play. Those pie crusts represented an hour of work and several points worth of fat rations. "Mabel," I countered, "This is very generous of you, but..."

"Nonsense!" she interrupted. "You need these more than I do. Besides, you wouldn't need them if you weren't so busy trying to get our boys what they need. And the sooner they can get what they need then the sooner the war will be over." A little glisten coated her pale blue eyes.

How could I say no?

"Thank you," I replied, and we both breathed a little sigh of relief. "But surely I can repay you for this somehow. I have a bit of extra coffee that needs a home." Everyone in the neighborhood knew that a big reason why Mabel was able to do so much was a result of her heavy coffee addiction. Since rationing had begun she'd been forced to reuse coffee grounds, but even that didn't allow her modest coffee ration to last its full five weeks. By week four, out of coffee rations, Mabel was known to be irritable and shaky.

"No thank you, dear," answered Mabel, too proud and honest to accept the trade.

"Well, then..." I postulated, "How about I invite you over for coffee and pie once the pies are made?"

"That sounds like a beautiful plan."

*Based on a true story. Actual events may have included a mad-dash to the grocery store to by anachronistic pre-made pie crusts.

--Rational Mama


  1. We will stick to the first story. I like Mabel. :o)

  2. I laughed. Lots. :-D

    Better a little forgivable anachronism than a whole load of wasted fresh fruit, IMHO.