Saturday, August 31, 2013


Linking to Beverly's Pink Saturday today---do go see all the lovelies.
Our town had a wonderful tradition, started and maintained by a lady of a certain age (quite young when it started, as it happens, for she would relate that she “used to could buy them six for a quarter”).


And the THEM of the equation was a pair of two dishcloths---that knitty-plaid kind that looked loomed a bit too loose, but whose cotton threads stood by you through thick and thin for everything in your kitchen from china to crystal to the grits pot, though not really recommended for those trusty old black skillets.  Those dishcloths (commonly called dishrags amongst even the most elegant of the ladies of our town, even those who hadn’t ever used or wrung one in their lives, and almost certainly by any home-maker who'd ever wielded one with her own two hands). 

But every local bride, kitchen-savvy or graduating merely from her Mama’s maid  QueenElla, who had practically raised her, to her own hired woman Delaweese---welcomed and expected a pair of the cute little Dish Britches made by Miss Yvonne Cain.   Not Miss Yavonne  or even Miss Evvaahn---Miss Y-Vonn was her name, emphasis on the WYE.   She and her Mama were forever companions, living not quite the austere widow-and-spinster lives one would assume, but keeping a good table belied by her Mama’s delicate frame, and confirmed by her own handsome figure, wide of peplumed hip and the button-waisted serge suits she wore to school every day.   They motored about the county to little occasions and clubs and meetings in that big Fifties Packard, smooth as it ran when her Daddy bought it nine days after Korea.

The two ladies seemed a perfect couple all on their own, meshed by time and custom, their likes and dislikes and little joys shared for so long.   Miss Yvonne taught third grade---she always said they were still young enough to mold into nice people, and they could already read and add.


Whenever an engagement announcement appeared in any of the little papers in the county, or postcard invitations to the shower at the Methodist/ Baptist/Pentecostal Church went in the mail, you could always count on Miss Y.  In those cool echoing Fellowship Halls where the start-housekeeping goods were spread like a colorful buffet atop a dozen tables, somewhere amongst the linens in those ranks of quilts and blankets and sheets and towels, sitting alongside the myriad one-pair-of pillowslips ranged in overlapping rows of embroidery or crochet or tatting with a neat card inserted into the cuff of each, there they’d be. 
The Dish Britches, set apart a bit by the jaunty tilt of the little flat box, open for display, and slanted a bit into its lid for best effect. They were just as cute as cute could be, and important, somehow, for everybody got them.  It was a mark of belonging, I think, like an innocent little small-town version of a bid at Rush.   

  Nine-tenths of the married women there had received a pair, and any single girl there, no matter her age, expected to someday.   You just DID.   They were as much a part of the wedding festivities as the gathering-to-make-rice-bags and picking out the silver pattern.


Everyone who passed that table seemed to smile, or simper a little at the guileless naughtiness of the poem, typed up on Miss Yvonne’s Olivetti in that distinctive flowing script:

Don’t be excited, don’t be misled.

These aren’t for you, but the dishes, instead. 

So get out your scissors and rip out the stitches,

And get in the kitchen and wash up the dishes.

It was a custom, a rite, and a sweet remembrance through the years.  Miss Yvonne herself did not marry until she was in her sixties, and my Mother always said her shower was the biggest one in the county, ever.   And as we ladies walked amongst the beautiful presents, holding our small doilied  plates of tiny Paminna Cheese Sandwiches, Cheese Straws and cups of Lime Punch, we just all broke out laughing.


For on a table all their own, like a set of game tiles laid squarely down for the match, were rows and rows of little flat boxes.  There were tiny britches of every color and shape---TWENTY-TWO pairs of them, each from someone who had treasured her little remembrance from such a nice lady.


Miss Yvonne was many years older than I, but I enjoyed being her Birthday Twin---we swapped cards for years and years, even after I moved up here.  When we went down there for my Mother’s funeral, Miss Y hugged me tight and handed me a pint of her homemade strawberry preserves.  She said, “Nobody ever thinks about bringing something for breakfast.”


She’d be a Hundred today, and I still miss my friend.


harleygirl said...

What a great memory! And those are so cute! I love reading your blog! :)

jeanne, backyard neighbor said...

Good Sunday morning Rachel. Yesterday was a busy day. We attended a celebration for one of our garden club members for her 100th birthday. She is in a wheel chair but still attentive most of the time. Amazing.

Your story really touched my heart and gave me a chuckle. I can honestly say I have never seen dishcloths in a charming pair of britches. I was captured by every word. Imagine a wedding at 60...I 'loved' the shower story. This is a delightful and wonderfully written piece. Thank you so much for sharing.

Thank you too for the sweetest comment. You know I am delighted to have my family over with the slightest excuse. My mother's sister Aunt Maudie was always the one who had the family parties. I admired and loved her so much. I followed her lead in so many ways.

Gotta get ready for church.
Happy Labor day weekend.
Love, Jeanne

Carolyn said...

Your remembrances take me back in time, touching my heart. I had forgotten all about "dish britches"!
Beautifully remembered and shared.
Happy September!

Jana@Transformations From the Heart said...

Hey I found you after all.
Now those are about the cutest little dishtowel britches I've ever seen and what a cute saying for them too.

Kim S. said...

Lovely memories, Rachel. I love that everyone had the britches and loved them.