Today I came across an interesting item for sale in an Etsy shop in Philadelphia ~ a set of hanging shelves with screened walls ~ a “Rare Hanging Antique Pie Safe”. As a person who likes to bake, and loves homemade fruit pies, and had never heard of such a thing, I inquired as to what it was. The owner’s Tara and Percy of jerseyicecreamco wrote me back:
Thanks for writing! We love this pie safe too!
These old pie safes were used to keep baked goods “safe” if you will. The screen doors keep out flies and mice and things, but still provide ventilation. (which they hoped would prevent mold and spoilage., though nowadays people want everything zip-locked tight without air, so not sure who’s right and who’s wrong there.)
This one in particular is awesome because it has the original hanging hardware, so you can keep it up off the ground.”
I wrote back:
“Thank You, absolutely fascinating! I live in Seattle so cannot acquire this now, but will keep in mind. I love your store and your taste! Many interesting things! Although I cannot buy anything now, perhaps this true story will make it worth having spent the time to answer me!
Your pie safe reminds me of a sultry hot summer day a few years ago when I walked by a ramshackle garage in an old residential neighborhood in Seattle. The door was barely open and inside were rows and rows of freshly baked bubbly wild blackberry pies sitting on makeshift wooden shelves, cooling! No one around! A couple hundred of them! And they smelled sticky and hot and of the strong natural iron in blackberries. Uhm…………!
I was tempted to reach in a snatch one, but resisted! ( Visions of the Bastille for me should I snitch a pie! ) But it would have tasted so good, and even better, if stolen! You know?
Even stranger, there was an old worn sign leaning on end against the back wall, that said, “Violet’s Pies,” which, of course caught my attention because of my own name.
I told my boyfriend about this weird pie place and we went back a few days later to take a look and try to find someone from whom to buy a pie – and guess what?
It was all gone! There was nothing there, no sign of them, or that they had ever existed! We asked the neighbors who were hanging out on their porch outside what they knew of the pie baking? Nothing! Of Violet? Nothing!
They were unaware of any it! How could they not have smelled the aroma of bubbling hot wild blackberry wafting across their hedge, right next door? I would have …….
Then, nobody believed me, they said it must have been a mirage! That I must have imagined it given the stifling heat! But I swear, it was real! It was strange, but really happened!
And I can see why it could have only happened once, because wild blackberries are only available and perfect for baking like that for a couple of days each summer…. Perhaps Violet only picked blackberries and baked them once a year and had a few private customers who took them all when she produced them on just one day each summer?
What do you think?