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Centenarians Battle For New England Apple Pie Title

April 5, 1986

WEST BROOKFIELD, Mass. (AP) _ With more than two centuries of cooking experience between them, Louise Waid and Tilly Bothwell figured they knew how to bake an apple pie.

The judges agreed. Their ″simple little recipe″ catapulted Mrs. Waid, 104, and Mrs. Bothwell, 100, past more than 450 other bakers into Sunday’s final for the ″best apple pie in New England″ contest, run by the historic Salem Cross Inn.

″We never dreamed they’d go for our pie,″ said Mrs. Waid. ″Most of the rest of the people had fancy fillings, with nuts and even peaches and whiskey. We just baked a plain, old apple pie.″

″There’s no secret to it,″ said Mrs. Bothwell, a touch of her native Belfast, Ireland, still clinging to her voice. ″It’s all luck. A pie is a hit or a miss affair. And oh, what if it comes out a mess Sunday.″

″Well, the judges are still alive and they ate our last one,″ said Mrs. Waid.

The team from the Quaboag Nursing Home faced eight other finalists from Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut, ranging in age from 16-year-old Ellen Cheney of Brimfield to defending champion Clara Chalmers of Bedford, N.H.

″We’ve got to be on our mettle, Tilly,″ Mrs. Waid warned. ″This Mrs. Chalmers says she’s determined to win it again, and she has got a lucky pie tin that she got as a wedding present 50 years ago.″

″How old is she?″ Mrs. Bothwell demanded.

″Seventy-nine.″

″Ah, she’s just a chicken, and we’re a couple of old hens that can set her straight,″ said Mrs. Bothwell, dismissing the competition with a flip of her pearls.

″We may be old in years, but we still act like youngsters,″ laughed Mrs. Waid, who maintains she is a newcomer to New England. ″My family didn’t move up here until 1895.″

She said that when she was a child in Washington, D.C., her family lived near the White House.

″We kids used to play on the lawn and I remember one Easter I got thirsty and Mrs. Cleveland was out on the veranda, so I just went up to her and asked her to get me a drink of water from inside. She did.″

″I don’t know how we got into all this fuss,″ said Mrs. Bothwell. ″It will be a lot easier to go out and buy a pie.″

″You are motherhood and apple pie,″ suggested nursing home administrator Jim Moran.

″Now don’t you go putting anything else into it,″ countered Mrs. Bothwell.

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