816 North

Nostalgia has a spot at Parkville Farmers Market

Everything a cook needs can be found Saturday mornings at the Parkville Farmers Market — cabbage, cucumbers, zucchini, onions, tomatoes, potatoes — and aprons.

The kitchen attire is new to the market this year. Created by MaryAnn Smith of Parkville, the aprons “fit in with what we do here — they relate to cooking,” said Shelley Oberdiek, market manager.

But Smith's aprons aren't the utilitarian garment Grandma wore.

These aprons cover a cook in style with big bright flowers, bold stripes, multi-colored peace symbols, denim and other fabrics with flair. All in all, the patterns are much like the era of the 1966 travel trailer Smith parks at the east end of the market every week.

Smith, 56, is not a camper. She works full time as a dental assistant but she became intrigued with vintage travel trailers after reading about them last year. Smith found one for sale online, a rusty trailer being sold by a hunter for $700.

While Smith had visions of a sort of frilly pink-and-turquoise dollhouse on wheels, “all I saw was work,” said her husband, Paul Smith, 59, a retired union ironworker.

Among the work involved was replacing all the particle board with plywood, putting on new teardrop running lights and painting the whole outside including the baby-moon hubcaps on the wheels in turquoise and the propane tank in hot pink.

Smith did her share, too, in fixing up the inside and using her seamstress skills to turn an old sundress into a curtain and a canvas paint tarp into a fringed turquoise-striped awning. Total cost of the rehab was about $300.

The trailer is often the first thing visitors to the market see and it evokes memories for some.

“The minute I saw it, I hearkened back to my childhood,” said Raimona Picco, 63, of rural Platte County. “I was eight years old when my parents and I traveled in one to Yellowstone.”

Like the camper Picco remembers, Smith’s trailer also sleeps three people inside: a couch folds out into a bed, a bunk bed pulls down over it and the booth in the kitchen area makes into the third bed. The kitchen has a working stove and an ice box.

“She's done a wonderful job refurbishing,” Picco said.

Smith's attention to detail shows up in the aprons, too.

“You can see the pride in her work,” said Jane Durbin of Independence, who was shopping at the market with her daughter from California, Rachel Durbin, 23. Her daughter bought a bright bib-style floral apron with a dishcloth buttoned to a pocket.

The aprons appeal to all ages of cooks and bakers.

JoAnne Owens, 56, of Kansas City, North, came back for a second apron, this one in yellow and black, a few weeks after she purchased her first, a brown and turquoise combination.

“I wear aprons all the time when I cook,” Owens said. “Her choices of bright colors —for the trailer and the aprons — are phenomenal.”

Ida Lake, 77, of Dearborn, a former market manager of the Parkville Farmers Market, returns regularly for fresh produce. Lake recently purchased a vintage-style apron from Smith.

The full aprons sell for $25 and half aprons for $15 to $20. Smith is one of two crafts vendors among 34 sellers of herbs, fresh produce, baked goods, eggs, honey and other edibles.

She partners with Luann Nielsen, her next-door neighbor, to sell placemats, hot pads, shopping bags and microwave potato bags.

What Smith won't sell, however, is the vintage trailer she named Thelma Louise after a favorite movie. She’s had plenty of offers: “People get out of their cars, see the trailer and start smiling. I could have sold this trailer 10 times over.”