Place item was collected
Point of Discovery/Informant Bio
My name is Glen Wright. I am a junior at Utah State University, studying Aerospace Engineering and minoring in Unmanned Aerial Systems and Computer Science. I come from an active family of seven, where I am the only boy. I have two sisters that have followed me up to Utah State, so we usually get together on Sundays and take turns cooking a big dinner. Since my mother managed high-end food restaurants for over 30 years, my whole family has gotten a knack for cooking and baking. After a long day of classes, I find nothing more relaxing than trying out a new recipe. I work as a freelance commercial drone pilot and avid outdoor photographer, which gives me the excuse to spend as much free time I have outdoors.
I make myself comfortable in my office chair and sift through the emails and text messages I shared with Debbie Roylance. I remember the recipe by heart at this point, but I always find myself questioning every recipe I use, so I look primarily for when she talked about baking the pies. Luckily, I find the message when she took a picture of two of the pies fresh out of the oven.
While serving as a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, I spent the last six months in a small Washington town called Warden. Having come from Yakima, a densely-populated city in the tri-city area, I didn’t really know what to expect from a town made up of corn fields and potato crops. My companion (who had been in Warden a few months) picked me up in a grey corolla (which turned out to be red once we gave it a wash two months later), and we headed into town. At the end of that first night, one of the members, Debbie Roylance, invited my companion and me to come over, enjoy pie and ice cream, and get to know them. Debbie was in the kitchen and Clair, her husband, was on the couch clothed only in the newspaper he was reading on his lap. This was the start of a fun and close friendship with the Roylance family. This was also the first time I was introduced to the Warden-coveted Roylance family peach pie recipe. This tradition of going to their home at the end of the day occurred, without fail, three to four times a week. If we missed a day, Debbie would show up at our house with two bowls filled with pie and Tillamook ice cream.
There was one night when we went for pie at the end of the day, we heard her daughter singing in the garage. We hear the side door open, her daughter place their outside cat back outside, and close the door. We rush to the side and while she was still close by, we knocked on the door. We heard a shrill scream and a loud clash as she threw the metal bowl she was holding across the garage. We could never find that bowl after that day, and it was a small garage! She literally threw it into another dimension! It wasn’t until after the Roylance family put away all the guns they grabbed and greeted us with on the front porch, that we couldn’t stop laughing, even years after it happened.
After I returned home from my mission, we talked four times a week, every week, for about a year. In 2016, I joined them on a fishing trip to Alaska, which was filled with plenty of fish and more pie than I could ever imagine. While in Alaska, I helped Debbie make many of the pies, which also provided me the chance to get to know how to make it.
Roylance Family Peach Pie
4 cups sliced fresh peaches
1 ½ cups sugar
2 Tbsp. tapioca
Pour into pie shell and top with butter. Pour a small amount of cream over top of pie crust; spread (makes crust golden brown). Tear strips of Reynolds Wrap and cover edges of top crust. Makes a great winter pie!
Typing down the story takes a few hours. I pause for minutes at a time after each sentence is written. The good memories, sad memories, and funny memories attach themselves to each word and phrase on the page. I take a second while looking at Debbie’s message with the picture of two pies. Alaska was the last time that I saw Debbie. The trip was cut short because she had an emergency surgery that removed a large portion of her leg. That’s when the doctors told her she had cancer. Debbie was a really close friend of mine, and even now, I regret not talking to her as much as I had before. I could have easily called or even texted her during that last month. Her sister contacted me a few days after my birthday, while I was having lunch with my grandfather, to inform me that Debbie had passed away earlier that morning. I adjust myself in my office chair as I play the memory through my head. I kept getting an itch to call her only a few days prior to her passing, but I didn’t. I don’t know why I didn’t. While Debbie’s sister and I talked, I asked her for the physical copy of the pie recipe, to have something to remember Debbie by. She was more than happy to and sent it through Debbie’s phone. I rarely make the pie for myself, it’s usually made and shared with close friends, all with a scoop of Tillamook ice cream (thank goodness it’s sold in Utah).
Lynne S. McNeill
Semester and year
G1: Groups/Social Customs
Wright, Glen, "Roylance Family Peach Pie" (2018). USU Student Folklore Fieldwork. Paper 388.