By Art Martens
At age 83 Garnet Dean is again looking for a wife. “I married the wrong woman the first time,” he told me as he settled in for a wide ranging conversation in the Tea Room at the Hedley Museum. “I loved airplanes and she wasn’t interested. This caused problems between us.” He now has a sure fire formula to ensure he won’t make the same mistake a second time. Just about the first thing he says when he meets a woman is “do you make a good pie?”
Garnet has been asking this question for many years, but matrimony has thus far eluded him. Even so, he continues his quest with unabated enthusiasm.
My interest was kindled when I heard that he talks about pie to just about everyone he meets. When I arrived at the Hedley Museum at 10 a.m. last Thursday, Garnet had just ordered a slice of lemon pie. He was sitting at a table alone, contentedly sipping his first coffee. He waved me to the chair next to him.
Fortunately I wasn’t pressed for time. Garnet has a raconteur’s capacity for telling stories and confidently offering views on issues that confound world leaders. Like an ancient Biblical prophet he speaks forcefully, as though he has just received a major revelation.
My interest was primarily in his pie addiction but I would have to be patient. Retired and living in a motor home, he has plenty of time to ponder. From brief earlier encounters, I knew there were numerous topics that intrigued him.
The lemon pie arrived and when he paused to lovingly gaze at it for a moment I asked, “Is lemon your favourite?” “O no,” he responded. “I like them all, but apple pie is actually my favourite.” Now that his mind was on the subject, he held a forkful of pie but didn’t indulge. As though to present his credentials he said, “I come in here for pie every day. I’ve eaten pie in a lot of places. Sorrento, North Vancouver, Keremeos. In Keremeos the mother of the cafe owner made excellent pies. I don’t know if she’s still there. The Hill Top Cafe in Langley is one of the best. Some cafes have mostly crème pies. I prefer fruit. I don’t like a thick crust.”
He slid the morsel of pie gently into his mouth and seemed to forget about me, savouring it. “I’ve been coming here since 2004,” he resumed, then drifted to another topic. “ Joe Roberts and I painted the front steps and deck of the museum. I helped Lorraine Lance rebuild the back stairs on the historic little house.”
Wanting to bring him back to the subject of pies, I asked, “in all your travels, where did you find the tastiest pies?”
“Right here!” he said with enormous gusto. He wanted me to understand he has the extensive experience required to speak authoritatively on the subject. “In all the places I’ve been to, I’ve eaten pie. Once I drove 150 miles into the U.S. to an apple pie festival. There were 80 feet of tables, loaded with apple pies. I bought a piece for myself and one for a Vietnam war vet.” He patted his stomach, still enjoying the memory. I mentally questioned whether he really limited himself to only one piece.
“The secret to a great pie is a great crust,” Garnet explained. “In one place in the Similkameen Valley their crust is too thick.” He patted his stomach again and admitted, “when it comes to pies, I’m a sinner. Margaret’s pies will be the death of me.”
At the end of 90 minutes, we parted company and the next morning he and his motorhome departed for Vancouver. He has health issues and wants to be close to his doctor.
Garnet is like a “rental” baseball player who is with a team for only part of a season, then moves on. He showed up in late spring, regaled us with accounts of airplanes, pies, horse racing. even a pig that lay on the couch in its owner’s livingroom. I don’t know if he is seriously on a quest to find another wife. Probably he’s having too much fun traipsing around the country. Undoubtedly though, by now he will have asked several Vancouver ladies the all important question, “do you make a good pie?”
Source:: Living Significantly