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WHO-TV Shoot Results in Early Pie Sales to Ladies in Red Hats

Mike Borland and his camera, American Gothic-style

Today photojournalist/reporter Mike Boland from WHO-TV (NBC, Channel 13) in Des Moines came to the American Gothic House to do a story. He had seen Kyle Munson’s front page story on me in the Des Moines Register on Monday and  essentially wanted to do a televised version of the piece. The thing is, Mike arrived when I was in the middle of making 10 apple pies for my inaugural pie sales for my brand new Pitchfork Pie Stand. While I was very flattered he wanted to shoot me making pie, let alone do a story in the first place, it is very difficult to answer questions like “How did you come to live in the American Gothic House?” and “How do you like living in the American Gothic House?” when you are trying to concentrate on adding key ingredients. “I had been visiting my childhood home in Ottumwa and saw the sign for the house….”  Darnit! Did I already add salt to those last two pies?

I am still a little insecure about my baking after forgetting the sugar and cinnamon in that pie I was making for The Neighbor. Kind of like when you get in a car accident and you don’t trust yourself driving for a long time afterward. “Do you think we can talk after I get these pies in the oven?” I pleaded. He said yes. We went outside and sat on a park bench in front of my famous house and I told him — told his camera — the rest of my story. I told him about my husband Marcus dying, about needing to get out of Portland, about being a pie judge at the Iowa State Fair, about finding the house where I now live…and then it was time to take the pies out of the oven.

My first customer!

The pies turned out beautifully, complete with little pitchfork vent-patterns on the top crust. No sooner did I set them on the dining room table to cool a group of six ladies barged in my front door. No knock. Just came in like family. But how could I refuse? They were all wearing red hats and purple jackets! The Red Hat Society. In fairness to them, I had chatted with them earlier on the front lawn and suggested they might enjoy a slice of warm apple pie. “No,” they said. “We just ate lunch. Too bad we didn’t know beforehand.” Well, even I didn’t know beforehand as I wasn’t going to start selling pie until TOMORROW. But now these charming, perky, smiling, well-dressed women marched right through the living room and into my office and went straight my table full of pies. The apple scent was so powerful I’m sure they were just following their noses. And they wanted to buy pie.

Mike started rolling tape and documented the occasion. I sold three pies on the spot! Given that I had been up since 6AM baking and my hands were tired from peeling apples I had no problem accepting payment for the, sorry for the pun, “fruits” of my labor.

The Red Hat Society ladies left. Mike and his camera left. And then, after all that, I left. I had to drive to Ottumwa to buy more apples to make more pies.

And so begins the grind of a pie businessperson. It’s much easier to write about pie than to make it for the masses! Not to get ahead of myself — I’ve only sold 3 pies — but I already think I’m going to have to hire some of Eldon’s local pie bakers to help. Because the world really does need more pie.

Mike Borland’s segment about the American Gothic House, pie and me airs Monday, October 18 during the 5:00 news. Also check the WHO-TV website for an additional online-only segment.