Making Pies in Iowa's "American Gothic" House
The joy of pies
Beth shares the small house (roughly 700 square feet) with her terriers, Jack and Daisy. It makes the perfect home base for hosting pie-making parties, working on her memoir Making Piece (due out in 2012) and joining the Thursday senior citizens' lunch when she pays the extra dollar charged for younger people. "I've become friends with people I never would have met in Portland. I'm discovering roots I didn't even know I had, and I'm surprised how deep they run," Beth says.
Among her new friends are the crowds who pose for photos with pitchfork in hand in front of the house and then buy a snack from Beth's Pitchfork Pie Stand on the front porch. Beth barely breaks even on the pies, but she's reluctant to raise the price. She'd rather people discover the joy of baking their own anyway.
Beth says, "If reading my story inspires other people to face their fears and make homemade pie and then share that pie to make someone else feel better, then I'm fulfilling some kind of useful purpose in this life."
For information on Beth Howard's pies and parties and to read her blog, visit theworldneedsmorepie.com. For information on the American Gothic house and its visitors center, call 641/652-3352 or visit wapellocounty.org/ americangothic.
(A version of this story appeared in Midwest Living® May/June 2011.)