Lancaster farming. (Lancaster, Pa., etc.) 1955-current, April 30, 1994, Image 38

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    82-Uncast«r Farming, Saturday, April 30, 1994
Edna McClure’s Pie Baking
Juniata Co. Correspondent
PORT ROYAL (Juniata Co.)
In the world of baseball, those
who excel in batting, pitching, hit
ting, and fielding often make it
into the Baseball Hall of Fame.
Edna McClure of RR 1, Port
Royal qualifies for the Hall of
Fame but, instead of a bat, she
uses a rolling pin and has had
43,862 “hits” in 35 years a per
fect batting record. She has had no
errors, and her “pitching” into the
work of making 43,862 pies gives
her a perfect all-around record.,
Edna’s ‘*Hall of Fame” record
has fans not only in her native
Juniata County but in other areas
as well. After she really got started
in baking pies to sell, she sent
many each week to Harrisburg
where her son and her brother-in
law filled orders from other
employees where they worked. At
that time, (1968) her large pies
sold for $l. That sounds like a
small amount, but then Edna
recalls that cornstarch was 100 a
box whereas it is 790 now, and
that all ingredients of the crust and
the fillings have increased in cost
Other “fans” are the customers
from many areas who stop to eat at
Spruce Hill Lunch, owned and
operated by daughter Carlen,
where Edna’s pies are a great
drawing card. Many come from
Lancaster County and other more
distant points.
When asked about favorite pies,
Edna said that for “in-season” fill
ings, she finds rhubarb custard to
be the favorite for cut pies in the
restaurant and for pies ordered
whole. The year-round favorite is
coconut cream, with lemon
sponge probably next in line. Hus
band Harvey’s favorite is rhubarb
custard, and Edna likes them all
and so has no real favorite.
As so often happens, people
want to know the secret of Edna’s
success. Of course the first
required ingredients are hard work
and a disciplined schedule. As to
her recipes, Edna has made no
attempt to keep them a secret.
They have been in her head for so
many years that there is no hesita
tion in knowing them exactly, but
she had never put them in writing
until recently.
This winter she wrote all of her
recipes for Carlen so that she
could have “The Pie Book” print
ed b> Impressions Printing and
Publishing of Mifflintown. This
has added to Edna’s fame because
the book was an instant success!
The first printing was 125, but
they were all sold in seven days.
Carlen has taken orders for 325
more, and the second printing will
be available by the time this story
is published. Carlen notes that
they are already becoming a col
lector’s item and are being bought
by women who do not even bake
pies. The taste of nostalgia appeals
to them, as they read Edna’s notes
of the origination of many of the
recipes and other personal notes.
1116 book has 27 pages with
recipes for 19 pies as well as for
the crust and for mincemeat. Car
len takes care of the orders and
sale of the book because Edna is
totally hearing impaired. Orders
for “The Pie Book” may be sent
to Spruce Hill Lunch. R R 1, Box
824, Port Royal, PA 17082. Cost
is $5 + 300 tax and $1 shipping, or
a total of $6.30. Check should be
made payable to Spruce Hill
For those who wish to stop in it,
it is important to note that Spruce
Hill Lunch is open only on Thurs
days and Fridays from 9:30 a.m. to
6:30 p.m„ and Saturdays and Sun
days from 8:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. It
has been necessary for Carlen to
reduce her hours in recent months
due to various illnesses and inju
ries in the family, and she does not
want folks to drive a long distance
only to find Spruce Hill Lunch
Now, let’s go back to the begin
ning years of this “Hall of Famer.”
Bom on a farm in Licking Creek,
a few miles from Mifflin, Edna
had two older brothers. Because of
her present reputation for baking,
we might think that Edna spent a
lot of time in the kitchen with her
mother. Not so! She much pre
ferred being in the fields helping
her father and so never learned
much in the kitchen. She fondly
recalls how she and others swam
in the “crick” and went ice skating
on Zook’s Dam from a very early
age to age 45 when she stopped
because she had broken her shoul
der (but not while skating); She
still enjoys swimming.
Edna graduated from Juniata
Joint High School in 1944 and is
thrilled that, at their SOth year
class reunion this year, the com
mittee will give her pie book as
a favor to those in attendance.
Between graduation and mar
riage, Eu.ia worked at a sewing
factory and as a waitress at Brat
ton’s Restaurant (now closed) in
Mifflin. Even there, the closest
she came to cooking was making
She married T. Harvey
McClure of Port Royal in 1946,
and they lived as tenant farmers on
the Paul McClure farm for four
years. The next eight years they
were tenant farmers on a Gronin
ger Valley farm.
When asked if she enjoyed
cooking after marriage, Edna’s
answer was definitely affirmative.
She made her own bread, and still
does, “from scratch.” She also
enjoyed making commeal mush,
which she still makes for Spruce
Hill Lunch. Even though Edna
made pies in her earlier years of
marriage, she never felt she was
good at it. Then she was hired as a
pie-maker by Zimmie’s Restaur
ant (now closed) near Mifflin
town, with the understanding that
the manager would teach her how
to make them! She baked pies
there two nights a week.
In 1968, Edna decided that she
would start making her own pies
to sell, and so she took orders and
became so busy that she never had
to advertise. She wanted especial
ly to work at home because she
was helping to raise a grandson,
Steve, and wanted to be there for
When asked how she kept
record of the number of pies she
has baked, Edna brought out a
very efficiently-kept record book,
started. in 1968. The book lists
how many and what type of pies
she baked each day. In the back, as
a summary, she has charts show
ing totals for each week, 'month,
and year. When she started that
book 26 years ago, little could
Edna have realized what it would
mean to her and others now.
Since 197 d, when Carlen
opened Spruce Hill Lunch, all
orders for Edna’s pies have gone
through there, and she has also
kept the restaurant supplied with
her special pies for sale by the
piece. Rheumatoid arthritis has
taken its toll on her hands so that
they are quite crippled, most likely
from all of that pie crust rolling.
Although she does not make those
palatable pies as quickly or as
often now, she still makes 35 each
week for her favorite customer,
Spruce Hill Lunch, along Route
75 about 6 miles south of Port
Edna’s most loyal fan and hel
per has been her husband, Harvey,
who retired from the Montgomery
Ward store in Lewistown when it
closed in 1981. Since then he has
helped Carlen at the restaurant and
has helped Edna to prepare the
fruit for her pies. Recently he has
had to slow down in his helpful
ness due to ill health.
A helpful hint that came out in
the interview is that Edna and
Harvey mix SO pounds of flour
with shortening at one time and
store it in the cold until she needs
crusts. Perhaps “pie on a
moment’s notice” could be Edna’s
In addition to daughter Carlen,
the McClures have another
daughter, Ellen, who is married to
Jay Hockenbrock. They both
teach in the Big Spring School
Harvey and Edna also have a
son, Furman, who lives near New
port and works as a machinist for
Lebanon Valley Offset Printing
Company. He and his wife have
one son.
Carlen’s son, Steve, is the
grandson who was the reason that
Edna wanted to work at home
back in 1968. He had a close call
with death in the Blizzard of '93,
and the story of how he survived
will be in an upcoming issue of
“Guideposts.” Steve still lives
with Edna and Harvey but, after
nearly a year of rehab, he drives
daily to State College to his work
at Nittany Valley Offset Printing.
Edna says that she takes little
credit for her ability as a pie maker
for she feels it is a God-given
talent She has lived her life with
faith in God, and he has faithfully
Partial results of a typical day of baking pies for Edna McClure. Shown are coconut
cream, blueberry, apple and raisin crumb. She holds a coconut pie, one of a number
that she got up at 5:00 a.m. to start baking.
Hits 43,862 Total
carried her and her family through learned sign language. Carlen
many trials of flood, siclmess, and signed the questions to her mother
accident This Hall of Famer has during the interview. Like a real
not allowed her complete loss of champion, Edna has overcome
hearing to ruin her sweet spirit of obstacles and hardships, and she
her love for people. Edna and continues to bless many with her
daughters, Carlen and Ellen, have talent of making pies.
Edna McClure with her daughter Carlen holds a copy of
“The Pie Book," which was recently printed.
Edna McClure In her home, with husband Harvey who
has been of great help and support to her In her pie making.
'pH t