Thursday, September 11, 2008

Grandma Pie

My grandmother, Ruth Marie Ball Fuller, died recently. She was old, 85, and had lived a long, hard-working life. In the end, she just decided to go to sleep. It had been some time since I'd seen her. In fact, it had been a long time since I was around the family and the hometown at all. I was one of those, "When I graduate I am outta here!" small town kids that really never looked back. In the intervening years, my memories of my relatives faded to gray as I lived outside the verbal history loop that families use to remind themselves of who they are.

Grandma shot crisply back into focus when, at the viewing and at the funeral, the preacher, my dad and uncle and aunt, family friends, cousins, and neighbors laughed and joked about Grandma Fuller's famous sweet tooth. Seems she loved cookies, pie, and fudge. Of course. Who doesn't. And in the aggressively independent DIY life of the Fullers, she made them all herself. Of all of her baking, her pies were the best. Every dinner, it seemed, had a pie or two at the end. Thanksgiving had a table full. Of course, if you didn't eat, there was no pie. And we all ate to eat pie. Even green beans.

My favorite story, one that I hadn't heard in probably thirty years, was of the two pie day. Seems, that after making the pie for dinner one autumn morning, Grandma decided to cut just a sliver to taste it. I guess it was good, because she cut another little sliver. I know it was good, because she ate the whole thing buy lunchtime. Now, the only way we know this story was from testimony of her neighbor. Seems Grandma didn't have enough sugar to make the second and quietly slipped next door to borrow some, hoping to have a second pie ready for dinner before hungry husband and kids returned home. She pulled it off and had the second pie on the table, only to years later be outed by her neighbor. Grandma, I'd have eaten the whole pie too, and tried to sneak a new one out of the oven before I was found out.

I remember the plastic pie rolling sheet that she worked on - opaque plastic imprinted with red circles to measure crust and conversion charts. Worn and floured, every single pie shell was rolled out onto it. And every shell was laid into clear glass pie pans, filled with hand-peeled and cut local (from the yard or down the street) apples, topped with crust, and baked in her old oven. We were admonished to not mess with it until it was cool as we burned our finger to dip in the crust drizzle at the edge.

I ate a lot of those pies. And until her death, never realized how much they were missed. Thank you Grandma Fuller.

(And yes, she was my elementary school Lunch Lady.)

Her obituary below.

Ruth Marie Ball Fuller, DuBois, 85, died Saturday at the DuBois Nursing Home.
Born Dec. 17, 1922, she was the daughter of the late Daniel and Ada M. Potts Ball. She was married to William L. "Let" Fuller. He preceded her in death Feb. 25, 1995.
She worked at Olive Avenue and Highland Street grade school cafeterias for 21 years before retiring in 1985.
She was a member of the Mt. Zion United Methodist Church. She was a life member of the Sandy Hose Company Ladies Auxiliary and the Daughters of the American Revolution, where she had served as a registrar and as a past regent.
She is survived by two sons, William L. Fuller Jr. of New Bethlehem and Ronald J. Fuller of Lemoyne; one daughter, Mrs. James (Susan) McLaughlin of Knoxdale; 12 grandchildren; 20 great-grandchildren; and several nieces and nephews.
She was the last surviving member of her immediate family and was preceded in death by two brothers, Daniel and Arthur Ball; one sister, Dorothy Gearheart; and one grandson, Ronald J. Fuller Jr.

FULLER: Ruth Marie Ball, DuBois, died Aug. 16, 2008. Friends will be received from 2-4 and 7-9 p.m. today at the Mohney-Yargar Funeral Chapel Inc. in DuBois. Daughters of the American Revolution will hold a service at 2:15 p.m. today at the funeral home. A funeral service will be held at 11 a.m. Wednesday at the funeral home with the Rev. Ron Lindahl officiating. Burial will be in Morningside Cemetery, DuBois. Memorial donations may be made to Agape Community Services, 320 W. Long Ave., DuBois PA 15801 or to a charity of the donor's choice. On-line tributes may be made at

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