Cheney Free Press -


By Luella Dow

Alvina Ditton excels at pie making, despite run-ins with Mr. Trouble


Luella Dow

After Alvina Ditton moved to Cheney she started watching students' children and later moved on to work at the Willow Springs restaurant making pies.

When Alvina and John Ditton first came to Cheney, he found the job he liked best working for the Cheney School District. Alvina's work came looking for her. Their home was near the college campus. Several students had small children. Alvina, who loved children, often heard a young parent say, "Could you take care of my baby while I'm in class?"

Alvina's care of children had some surprises waiting. One little boy cried a great deal. Alvina discovered there were bite marks the entire length on one arm. When the father came to take the child home she asked him, "How did he get all these bite marks on his arm?" The dad simply said, "I did it to keep him from crying." One of Alvina's neighbors was a police officer. He took the little boy to the doctor and told his mother, "You get rid of that husband." "Dad" was ordered to move far away. Mother and son began another life in a safe environment. Alvina missed one little child to cuddle but was so relieved to know the boy would be safe. She said, "Many of the children called me grandma. If their parent was not there on the dot to pick them up they would sometimes say, 'We've got grandma!'"

In addition to childcare, Alvina had four children of her own. She taught them to cook. Daughter Verna lives on Whidbey Island. Leroy and his wife live in Costa Rica. Doug has a home in California and Wilmer, who loved riding his motorcycle, died from a heart attack two years ago.

One day, Mike Hartman, the owner of the Willow Springs restaurant, said to Alvina, "How'd you like to work for me?" Surprised, Alvina paused. Mike kept talking, "You make pies at home, don't you?" Alvina got the job. One of the workers at the restaurant gave her lots of recipes to choose from. A man who also worked at the restaurant looked at Alvina in disdain and said, "Those are my recipes!" One day Alvina asked him, "Would you please open this can for me?" His reply was sharp, "No. That's not my job." Alvina kept on with her pie making, pleased when people began to praise her for her expertise.

Mr. Trouble kept on harassing her. One day, Alvina found the pie recipes thrown onto the highest shelf where she couldn't reach them. Another day, Alvina carried some pies into the walk-in freezer. Mr. Trouble reached over and locked the door. Someone said, "Where's Alvina?" His reply was, "She probably walked home." He was talking to a policeman. The officer insisted, "I need to know where she is." Mr. Trouble unlocked the freezer door and Alvina, shivering from the intense cold and barely able to walk, came out. The policeman asked Alvina's nemesis, "Why did you lock her in the freezer?" The man began to stutter, "Because, because - she wanted to -." The policeman said, "Give me the key." He then approached Mike Hartman, "I want this man out of this town." Alvina said, "The policeman helped me home and made sure I was alright."

With Mr. Trouble gone, Alvina continued making pies. She became well known for her delicious pies. Now Alvina lives at Cheney Assisted Living and is looking forward to her 95th birthday in July. Friends remark about how wonderful her pies were. If she had access to the ingredients and supplies, I wouldn't be surprised that Alvina could prepare a tasty pie as if she had never stopped making them. Three cheers for you, Alvina.

Luella Dow is a Cheney-area author. She can be reached at


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