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The Nurses Apron Partnership

Gotcha Covered travels to Adelaide, South Australia

Posted: 6 March 10

March 6, 2010—In late December 2009, Gotcha Covered: A Legacy of Service and Protection traveled almost 10,000 miles, from Nashville to South Australia, where it was received by Dr. Avis Smith, one of the people who had inspired the book in 2006. Dr. Smith was formerly the Chief Pharmacist for the Broken Hill Base Hospital and made frequent trips into the outback in the 1970’s with the Royal Flying Doctors’ Service, accompanied by a nursing sister and physician. Observing the change in persona that would occur for both the medical team and the assembled patients as the nurse donned her professional apron, Avis was intrigued. After retirement from her profession, she enrolled in a Master’s degree program at the University of South Adelaide and produced her thesis, entitled “The Language of Aprons: Signifiers of Femininity” in 2003.

One chapter focused on the role of aprons as a part of the definition of the professional nurse at the time, prompting her to write “The white apron as the outer layer of the nurse’s clothes-body complex has, within public perception, become firmly associated with professional (feminine) care and comfort. . . . The white apron of nursing has always exerted a powerful psychological as well as visual effect.” (The Language of Aprons: Signifiers of Femininity, p. 64)

Although I have never met her, Avis was a source of great information and support as I researched and compiled Gotcha Covered. It had been my hope and dream that I might some day present to her in person the finished book but those 10,000 miles and unknown dollars prevented this dream from becoming reality.

Then I learned that my son, Jon, and his new wife, Justyn, planned to travel to Adelaide on their honeymoon in late December, 2009. Fearing to impose on their their precious time, I nevertheless asked them to make a side trip to deliver the book to Avis. It turned out to be a delightful visit on both sides and Avis gifted me in return with one of the original aprons from her collection amassed over decades in South Australia. The accompanying photo (if you are reading this from a post, roll your mouse over the blue headline above and click—you will be taken to the web site where the picture will be visible), showing Jon and Justyn Manley with Avis and the Taniwha logo apron allows all of us to share Avis’ great good humor and nurturing spirit.

Maybe someday I will be able to meet her in person, but for now, as I wrap her apron strings around my waist, I smile and feel her arms also encircling me. Thanks, Avis!

Ginger Manley, Founder
The Nurses’ Apron Partnership

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