PDA with Homemade Pear Pie

Nov 13, 2023 | PDA Blog

by Randy Shannon

Progressive Democrats of America, National Board Secretary


This past Sunday 11/12/23 was a busy day for us. 

We have a pear tree on our property that annually produces 60-100 edible fruit. Now that we’re living on social security Tina was determined to process and consume that huge pile of fruit. So, she found a recipe; and with a few changes made a delicious pie/cake. The crust is hand crushed graham crackers, the filling is mostly diced pears, with soaked tapioca, a little water with lemon juice, and real maple syrup. She baked six pie/cakes and still has enough pears to bake six more. I like to eat it with sliced sharp cheddar cheese.

This past Sunday we drove to Pittsburgh to leave pear pie/cakes along with some frozen lentils with our three family households. Our last stop in Pittsburgh was the neighborhood called Polish Hill. It’s a steep undulating hill below Bigelow Blvd. that’s cut into the mountain that sits just east of downtown Pittsburgh. Polish Hill overlooks the Allegheny River and the Strip District, the oldest business district in early 19th century Pittsburgh where skiffs and other watercraft were able to dock and unload goods.

My son Ben was busy at the Polish Hill Civic Association. We parked and walked up to a young woman who was standing on the hill just above the sidewalk next to the Civic Association building. Standing anywhere in Polish Hill requires standing on a hill! She had a podium on the grass and was tallying the votes for best soup. I asked the cost of the soup and she said the contest was closed so no charge. I asked her who would benefit from the donations. She said the collection would be split between the Polish Hill Civic Association and support for the Palestinians. I gave her a double donation. 

Ben was using a propane burner and an iron skillet to make fresh flat bread for the soup cook-off. Most of the community chefs were standing around on the sidewalk waiting for the vote tally, chatting, and smoking cigarettes. The Iranian soup won the contest; I didn’t get to taste that, all gone.

Tina gave Ben her pear creation and a container of frozen lentils. He then asked us if we wanted to try the soups. We wanted to try the soups but not inside the building, so Ben went in and out with various soups that were all delicious.

I asked Ben who had organized this fundraiser for Palestinians. He told me that some members of two teams of the Dock Ellis Baseball League had organized the soup contest and fundraiser for Palestinians. The League was founded in Pittsburgh by people whose cultural roots were in the Pittsburgh punk rock scene. The League has several inter-racial co-ed baseball teams around PA including 3 in Pittsburgh, 3 in Philadelphia, as well as Richmond, Baltimore, Raleigh, Asheville, and Wilmington. It has a World Series in West Virginia every year.

I had the fortune to watch a Dock Ellis League game at a field up on Troy Hill, another steep mountain on the north side of the Allegheny River. The rules are relaxed. There are no balls but three swinging strikes. The teams agree whether a base runner is safe or out. Most people sat around in camp chairs, snacked, and chatted. Up on that hilltop the sun sets later so there’s time to socialize under the setting sun.

As we drove home from Pittsburgh in the setting sun, we listened to an audiobook “Freedom’s Dominion: A Saga of White Resistance to Federal Power” by Jefferson Cowie. We are at the beginning where he details Pres. Andrew Jackson’s use of a Federal Marshall backed by the US Army to enforce the 1832 US treaty with the Creek Indians in south eastern Alabama along the Chattahoochee River.

We got home in an hour; sat down to a snack; and watched the PDA Town Hall on YouTube with Social Security Works organizer and brilliant political strategist Alex Lawson. Call your Representatives and Senators: “No commission in the continuing resolution!”


  1. Randolph Shannon


  2. Ellen Schwartz

    Why didn’t you want to go into the building to sample the soups?