Illustration of strawberry plant for Ann Dorer essay

Former Southern Lady Editor Ann Dorer Shares Her Charming Stories

Phyllis Lifestyle, People 15 Comments

We love reading essays written by Ann Dorer. She captures the South like no other can. The first time I met Ann was at an afternoon tea at my house that I hosted for my niece Beth. Ann’s daughter, Kate, is friends with Beth and was one of our honored guests. We let the young girls sit in the dining room while we adults gathered around the kitchen table for tea.

Ann and I share a love of beautiful tables, luncheons, teas, and cooking. When we started Southern Lady in 1998, Ann came to my office to interview for the editor position. I knew she wrote children’s books but didn’t know much else about her. She had prepared a sample table of contents as if she were the editor, and it was perfect. But the real deciding factor for me was the article she did on making biscuits. As I read her wonderful written words, I could almost taste those biscuits. Needless to say, she was the first editor of Southern Lady. As the magazine grew with Ann at the helm, she continued to write her magic into the pages of the magazine.

Ann retired to take care of her mother but left a lasting legacy here at Hoffman Media. She captures the essence of a true Southern lady. As Southern Lady readers continue to enjoy her writing, I am happy to share one of her recent essays with you today. Thank you, Ann, for your beautiful words and thoughts. They lead us to admire your work and appreciate the joys in our own lives.

Watercolor painting of roses

Illustrations by Judy Jamieson.

Ann’s essay on “The Importance of Southern Storytelling”

A few weeks ago, I just happened to tell—from my point of view—my 5-year-old granddaughter Maggie about the day she was born. I explained how I saw the nurse place her in a clear plastic crib right beside a viewing window. I told her how I stood there and looked and looked and looked. I said that as friends and family came in, they would join me at the window to see her precious newly born self, but after a while, they moved away to visit with one another. But not me. I stayed there and “looked and looked and looked.” I ended the telling of this little incident with, “Then all of a sudden, you went ‘Achoo!’ So I got to see your very first sneeze.”

Later, Maggie would say to me several times, “Anna, you looked and looked and looked at me when I was born, didn’t you!”

This took my mind back in time to something Southern author Lee Smith told me when I interviewed her for an article I wrote about her for Southern Lady*. I asked what had influenced her to become a writer, and she noted that one influence was her mother. “She was one of those Southern women who can—and did—make a story out of thin air, out of anything: a trip to the drugstore, something somebody said in church . . . ”

I have decided that I will no longer just happen to tell my grandchildren a story.

From now on, I am going to do it on purpose.

Get all of Ann’s essays on the Southern Lady website.

What stories do you love to share with loved ones?

Southern Lady July/August issue cover


Comments 15

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  2. Thank you for the stories. I also have several books about Tasha Tudor. Does Anna Dorer have any books other than children’s books?

  3. Ann was a sweet person and a great editor. Always had a pleasant smile on her face. She made Southern Lady come to life.

  4. I loved her articles and essays. I grew up in a family of storytellers. I didn’t know it was unusual for both adults and kids to sit around the table and tell stories. I feel bad for kids now who have never experienced family tables where the generations shared their stories. We were so much richer for it. We got to know or parents and grandparents as people with full and interesting lives.

  5. When my niece and nephews were small they would always say, “Tell me a story Aunt!” I would usually tell about the mishaps their father, my brother, and I had when we were young children. But their favorite stories were always about when they themselves were born. Just the other day I told my youngest nephew Paul, who will be 30 next April, that this past week marked the 30th anniversary in July, 1985 that I got the call from my brother telling me they were expecting another child. I was actually an intern in Virginia Beach doing research for parent and teacher articles on raising children! Such sweet memories. I so enjoy your sharing! Thank you!

  6. Ann’s essay sure struck a chord with me. I too have a 5 year old granddaughter named Maddie. She will say: “Oma, you just loved that, didn’t you? It has been a story about her and she wants to hear it again and again. She always says “didn’t you? or isn’t that right, Oma?”
    My mother (now 90) has always told me the story of my great grandmother and me as a 4 year old. My great grandmother was blind and when bedtime rolled around there was only one person she would let lead her to bed. She would take my little hand in hers and off we would go. I have no memories of this but I have ask my mother many times to tell it to me once more. Ann, because of your inspiration, I too will be deliberate in telling both my granddaughter and grandson stories like these. A real blessing!

  7. The only problem with your post is….I want it to go on. I can almost hear you reading it to me. Keep on writing for us.

  8. The stories I most love to share with loved ones are my childhood remembrances of my grandparents. I spent a lot of time with them and everyday I think of at least one story that revolves around them.

  9. What a charming story. To tell stories about life’s events, especially for children, locks memories in their hearts, and makes an occasion about past events and a way to remember. I can see why Ann is gifted as a children’s writer, although her writing for Southern Lady was beautiful too.

  10. We weren’t Southern, but Midwestern. However, my maternal grandmother made memorable leaving our farms and convening in the nearest town to do our “trading,” what the citizens thereabouts still called shopping for groceries even though they no longer traded cream and eggs for the items they couldn’t produce themselves. She had a sassy sense of humor and delighted in people watching and making up stories about the activities of those being observed as we sat in the car with her on Saturday afternoons. Little did the locals realize, as they walked around the town square and in and out of the Hy-Vee, located in a building with a false front still emblazoned with the fading words “Trading Post,” what entertainment they were providing. Wonderful memories.

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