Listening with Pleasure

In the 15 years since I took that first step on my apron journey, I’ve received many aprons in the mail. Always, the aprons are lovingly packaged, as if to make the best first impression upon arrival.

When I spy a large envelope in the mail delivery, my heart beats a tad faster because I anticipate it holds a piece of someone’s history. Such a package arrived this week.

The apron was double wrapped, first in yellow tissue with the sender’s information handwritten on a piece of kitty stationery, and secondly in pink.

The apron is of a dressy nature, perhaps worn over a Sunday Best dress, to serve dinner after church. It was a kit, purchased or received as a gift, and sewn entirely by hand. A stain from a kitchen mishap or storage in a leaky trunk is the only blemish, which is amazing, considering its from the 1920s.

Not only did the sender provide her address, but a phone number. Upon my ringing her up, E.S. shared that she lives in Iowa and the apron belonged to her grandmother, Carrie Cameron Lathrop. Carrie was a farmer’s wife, known throughout the area as a great storyteller. E.S. loved visiting the farm and spending time with her grandmother. She always wore an apron, but when she passed, I took just this one as a remembrance.

The apron is in my care now because E.S. is herself “getting on in years,” and she’s divesting of her treasures as she wishes, while she is still able.

E.S. inherited Grandma Carrie’s storytelling talent, and I was a willing audience to her recollections, especially her telling of hitchhiking to Colorado in 1952!

E.S. was twenty-two years old when she and two girlfriends hitched rides from Iowa to Denver. Their adventure lasted a year, ending when her friends up and married. Alone and lonely for family, E.S. borrowed the money for bus fare and returned home. But oh, her memories of Aspen, Boulder, and being a “single gal” in a city filled with rugged, western males. I adored hearing her voice lighten as she remembered that time and the adventure of her life.

One of the many lessons I’ve learned over the years of this apron journey is the value of practicing the old fashioned virtue of patience, zipping my lips and letting the apron direct the memory of the storyteller. A story unfolding on its own time frame eventually revealed something new about the human experience. Patience taught me that and I am the grateful recipient of the lesson.

E.S. will be 86 in March. While I’ll send a card and a little wrapped something, I know the gift she would appreciate most is a phone call and a patient ear. If I make it to her age, and in decent form, I so hope there will be a kind somebody with a willingness to hear an old lady tell a story.

xx EA






  1. This is a beautiful story with an ending that all of us should read. All of our elderly persons would so love a phone call.
    I regret not having one of my grandmother’s aprons to share with you…only pictures remain. She always wore her aprons with a beautiful Cameo Broach which is now my most valuable treasure. I have no idea who became keeper of the aprons. Thanks for sharing this today as it brings back wonderful memories of my grandmother and that wonderful time when we were all young and happy and the family was together and alive.

  2. E.S. apologized that she was just chattering away, taking up my valuable time, etc., which I explained was not true – with parents no longer around, many of us seek out those who remind us of family, and it is with joy that I look forward to our chats. Thank you for reading and sharing! xxea

  3. Hey Ellynanne….its been awhile since I met you at the Apron Extravaganza in Jackson, TN. not long after I journeyed to see your traveling apron exhibit in Charlotte, NC. Both of which I enjoyed emensely. This post is reminiscent of seeing the exhibit and hearing your presentation. I heart it so much! I can not get enough of apron stories or any story for that matter. Living in the south I have been around storytellers all my life. Most of which were in my family….its one of the things us southerners do best.

    Thank you for such a beautiful post! You do an awesome job with all that you do! You are without a doubt my kinda people.

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