The ladle, a short story


I was washing my ladle and noticed it is starting to show its age after 54 years. I’m reposting this old comment for sentimental reasons.

The Ladle
Janelle Meraz Hooper

I don’t know why I was washing dishes by hand last night—I have a dishwasher. Maybe it was because our Mariners were behind the Yankees 2-4. Or maybe it was the latest war in the Middle East. Or maybe, it was the sight of our president (Baby Bush) stupidly talking in front of an open microphone and chewing with his mouth open at that big mucky-muck meeting of leaders in Russia (that man is such a hick!). I dunno what it was.
Anyway, there was a soup ladle in my sink, and it brought back a flood of memories (that happens to me a lot—maybe I should seek help). I can remember exactly when I got it. It was given to me at a bridal shower my friends gave me in our college dormitory at Eastern Washington State College (now a university) in 1963. I don’t remember the name of the girl it was from, but I can see her as clear as yesterday. She was so fragile, maybe a size one, with reddish long hair. That year, she’d been working on a student talent show with us, and she’d objected to a poem by Ogden Nash because it had a swear word in it (A strange bird is the pelican—his beak can hold more than his belly-can—in his beak he can hold enough food for a week—but I don’t know how the hell-he-can). She was such a sweetheart.
That ladle has been with me from that first pot of soup until now. It has served delicious soups with beef and pea pods. Spicy, aromatic, Cajun soups with chicken and ham. Sometimes, it has ladled soups that were more frugal. It has even spooned more than its share of beans. It has seen lonely times when my husband was in Viet Nam and happier times when his whole family gathered around our table for gazpacho. It has ladled tomato soup decorated with popcorn into my daughter’s bowl. Soup made with vegetables from our organic garden. Even soup made with leftover salmon (okay, that one was a mistake!). That ladle. That precious ladle.
It is still in good shape, made soundly from stainless steel by a company named Ecko, I think. After all these years, it is in no danger of replacement. How could I replace it? How could I purchase one of those new plastic ladles with lots of color but no memories?
I don’t know what happened to my friend who gave it to me. I hope she is well and happy—and I hope she has a ladle just like the one she gave me, oh so many years ago…

Janelle Meraz Hooper
(Try my books, they’re a good read, I promise!)