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[REV 25-NOV-2014]

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Pies in Repose: 1940

Pies in Repose: 1940

November 28, 1940. "Pumpkin pies and Thanksgiving dinner at the home of Mr. Timothy Levy Crouch, a Rogerene Quaker living in Ledyard, Connecticut." Photo by Jack Delano for the Farm Security Administration. View full size.

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I never liked it until I ate my mother in law's. Now, our family demands I make it every year. Usually made two at a time to begin with so one will be ready for the next year. Then every year after, one is made and stored away while the previous year's is eaten. I have to say it is the best I've ever eaten and my family agrees. Even the kids like it. Love to see pictures like this. Brings back memories of my childhood. My mother wore her hair like that and our family Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners were enormous. Lots and lots of people and food. So many, we had to eat in shifts. Such happy memories.

The Timothy Levi Crouch family

This pictures, along with several others, were taken at my great-grandparents' Thanksgiving dinner in 1940. My grandfather, one of their sons-in-law, is the gentleman with the fork in his mouth. This collection of pictures by Jack Delano is really neat, and I love to see them posted on the internet.

There were 14 Crouch children living at the time this was taken, the youngest being about 12. There were definitely more people at the dinner than this picture would indicate, and most likely some of the other married children dropped in later in the day to enjoy pie.

For many years the family only knew of this one picture. It wasn't until the age of internet that we discovered that there were about 20 of them along with pictures taken at the one-room schoolhouse. My mother is in pictures at both locations. She remembers the photographer being at the dinner, but she doesn't recall him being at the school. It was quite the shock when I showed her all the pictures!


I can't speak for these dear people, but my family always coded two crust pies differently. The slits and occasional decorations on top denoted the contents. I would guess, a pumpkin, sweet potato, cherry, apple and peach. While that glorious molasses and candied fruit and nut bundt would wait for evening coffee and tea, foolishly ignored by the unsophisticated children, in favor of the sweeter and juicier fruit offerings.

Thanksgiving 1940

Thanksgiving day 1940 was November 21st, not November 28th!

[It was celebrated on two different dates that year, as well as 1939 and 1941. The New England states observed the traditional fourth Thursday in November. - Dave]

No puns

About the large family of the rogerin' Quakers? Good, because that would be rude and tasteless.


Let me at that fruitcake, man. Om nom nom nom nom!

The wallpaper

The wallpaper really got my attention. The house we rented from 1958-63 had a very similar print washable wallpaper in our kitchen. Given that this photo was taken in 1940, then our wallpaper might have been 20 years old (or older) at the time.


is Pie Town!

On the Wallpaper-

Mr. Plate looks sad.

I like fruitcake

We don't see very many people in this mirror view, but the impression is that there aren't that many. After all, the stove in a previous picture wasn't cooking cauldrons. So, six pies (at least), and a fruitcake? Wow. Those home-made pies were probably great, but still seems like a lot of pie.

Makes me feel guilty

I only baked two pies yesterday! I wonder what kind the two-crust pies were; apple, cherry, mincemeat?

This also reminds me of a certain fruitcake my mother baked in 1967. It was kept in our extra fridge, in the utility closet. That was also where my dad's huge liquor collection resided. Mom was soaking it with bourbon every once in a while, and so was I. By Christmas that was some wonderful fruit cake! It had a lovely bourbon flavor, but didn't taste like alcohol.

I hate hearing all of the maligning of fruitcakes that takes place, now! It was just like everything else; bad ones were awful, but good ones were delicious. I would bet the one in this picture was delicious!

Compare and contrast

Interesting to contrast this family with the one in Kentucky of which we saw so much earlier in the fall. I wonder if their dessert table ever looked liked this?

The pies at my daughter's house yesterday looked just like these--courtesy of my ex-wife.


I love that wallpaper. I wonder what colour it was.


I had never heard of the Rogerene Quakers before, which surprised me, since I am a Quaker and have read quite a bit about Quaker history.

A little googling shows that the Rogerene Quakers had no connection to other Quaker groups, although there was some similarity in their beliefs (particularly pacifism). They also resemble Baptists and Seventh Day Adventists.

I have to say that's a lovely photo, the use of the mirror is terrific. And I would love to have a slice of that fruitcake. I don't know why they have such a bad rep. Like everything, there are good ones and bad ones, and a good one is a real treat.

How It Was Done

The pie in the center front brings back memories of watching my mother finish putting together pies by holding a fork upside down and pressing the tines into the pie's rim all the way around, sealing the top to the bottom and making those tiny grooves.

Reflections on a holiday

Taking the photo in the mirror is a great idea.

There's something about this picture

That is just lovely. This is what i like about this site; it reintroduces photographers like John Vachon and Jack Delano.

"Just shut it, Tim"

The centerpiece lets me pretend it's the Missus sticking the fork in his mouth.


I have nothing clever or insightful to say, just want to express my appreciation to Shorpy for showing a slice of life gone forever. We are fortunate indeed to have these photos. The lively wallpaper and cloth speaks to a Quaker way of life I did not know existed--no "plainness" here.

Family album

More of the Crouches here.

It's the kind of wallpaper that's difficult to hang

It's interesting to analyse past family festive gatherings by the relative loudness of the patterns on the wallpaper and curtains in the background.

This kind of wallpaper is annoying to hang to get the patterns to line up.

Could we have a sequence of photos on 'wallpaper and curtain patterns through the ages'? (The 60s and 70s seem to have been particularly loud).

$5 on the pumpkin pie!

I wonder what the folks in this wonderfully American family photo would think if they knew that 70 years later thousands of people were spending their Thanksgiving gambling at a massive casino (Foxwoods) located in the very same town?

Ummmm, pie!

The pies look delicious. I would be willing to bet those flaky crusts were made with good old lard, too. When you talk of shortening, there wasn't anything shorter than lard.

Mmmmm, pieeee

I can smell them!


We finally see where the origin of the fruitcake came from. Could it be the exact same one that my mother had on the table that no one ate in 1950?

The First Fruitcake

I remember well the ritual of the long process of making the holiday fruitcakes from cracking nuts (in shells) to chopping candied fruit and dicing dates and finally, after it was all baked for hours, to wrapping it in brandy or rum soaked cheesecloth and storing it away in some cool spot being forbidden to cut into it before Thanksgiving. These rustic pies look and smell (I have a good imagination) incredibly tasty, and the laboriously crafted fruitcake had no idea that in less than 70 years it would become a much maligned and unwanted joke. The elderly in your audience will remember when fruitcake was a highlighted specialty of the holiday season. I understand that now they actually shoot them from cannons and use them for doorstops. As for this photo, I find it outstanding in every way, just beautiful. Thanks yet again for this warm family portrait.

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