They Make Pies from Nuts?

They Make Pies from Nuts?

The summer before my first year at Rutgers, I worked for my grandfather Layton (AKA Powie) driving the cigar delivery van. His father had founded Layton's Cigar Co. in the early 1900's from his cigar store on Penn St. in Penns Grove, NJ. By 1945 or so, the store was a memory, but the company still delivered cigars made in Philadelphia at the Bayuk Cigar Co. Bayuk produced the Webster and Phillies brands and a special brand called "Layton's Specials". 

Layton's Specials were actually the result of a suggestion from my great grandfather when he noticed that many cigars were being rejected from their flagship variety "Phillies Perfectos". This variety was their most popular and in the 1950's cost 10 cents. Since the cigars were hand made, the cost of remaking one that had been defectively made was, of course, double! Pop-Pop suggested that they not bother making it over, but instead package them up and sell them at half price. 

Many people smoked them claiming they were better then the other varieties, but some wouldn't smoke them since they were cheap and therefore could not be better. When I smoked and didn't have a lot of money to buy a Webster Queen (a twenty five cent cigar),  I knew I could get 5 slightly defective  ten cent cigars for the price of a Queen. 

You're probably wondering what any of this has to do with the title, have patience, I'll get there eventually.

Since my grandparents lived about 25 miles north of us in Woodbury Heights, to be effectively on the job by 8 AM, I lived with them that summer. The pay wasn't enormous, but in ten weeks, I saved $600. This came to $10 a day (six day work week - every other Saturday was half day delivery with yard work, the other Saturday was just yard work) which was decent money for an 18 year old in those days. 

One Friday night at dinner, Gram mentioned something about Virginia (the state) to which I replied that I had never been that far south. Powie said that we had to correct that and since the next day was a non-delivery Saturday, we would drive to Alexandria after lunch and have dinner in a restaurant, he and Gram liked there.

After doing the yard work and getting cleaned up, we set out for Virginia. Since I drove all week for Powie anyway, he didn't see any reason I shouldn't drive this trip. He acted as my navigator, but frankly, there were only a couple of roads to take and after about 3.5 hours we were in Alexandria.

After visiting the National Cemetery, we found the restaurant and had a fine meal. At dessert time, the waitress exclaimed that she was sure that a growing boy like me would certainly want dessert. She added that the restaurant specialized in pies. 

Anyone who knew my other grandmother, Grammie Nipe, knows that she was probably the best baker known to mankind or at least to my family. So, I grew up eating pies, cakes and cookies that were second to none and at that time I would not pass up a piece of good pie. So, I asked what kind of pie they had to offer. The waitress began with Apple, Cherry, ... Pecan, ... "Wait!", I stopped her, "Pecan, they make pies out of nuts?"  that was that, she determined that I would have Pecan Pie and would not be dissuaded. 

Well, most of you know the rest, I have been eating and enjoying them ever since. Little did I know then that I would spend the rest of my life in North Carolina and Texas where such fare is common place.


Davdan @ 2008-2018