Why I Love L.L. Bean


“Outside of your gun, nothing is so important to your outfit as your foot-wear. You cannot expect success hunting deer or moose if your feet are not properly dressed.” ~ Leon Leonwood Bean

By Catherine Austin Fitts

When my maternal grandmother Ruth died, my grandfather Joe married her dear friend, affectionately known as Barky. Ruth and Barky had gone to Quaker school together – Friend’s Central School in Philadelphia – and then to university at Swarthmore College. With Barky’s marriage to Joe, I inherited scores of new cousins.

One of my first memories of Barky was watching her work through her Christmas index card file and deciding what the scores of grandchildren would receive that year from the L. L. Bean catalogue: rubber boots, parkas, turtleneck sweaters. We lived on L.L. Bean ever since I could remember. Our summer farm was in the White Mountains in New Hampshire. It was not far over to Maine to visit the L.L. Bean store where Ruth, Barky and my mother liked to go, even though everything could be done through the catalogue.

My relationship with L.L. Bean has been a lifelong affair. T-shirts, terrycloth robes, turtlenecks, and there are always more Bean boots to wear in the rain and mud while trucking across the countryside.

I travel by Bean. My luggage consists of various forms of Bean duffle bags and scores of Bean Boat and Totes for phone, computer, and audio equipment, laundry, office supplies, food for the road, the latest reading and magazines.

In a lifetime of ordering and talking to representatives of L.L. Bean, I cannot remember a transaction that was not well executed and timely, nor can I remember a conversation that was anything but pleasant and efficient. In fact, the only slip up came in Barky’s card catalogue, when I received a red parka from L. L. Bean two Christmases running. I was in heaven – as no one ever caught Barky in an imperfection – and it was glorious to have something to tease her about. After her first husband had died on the beaches of Normandy, she served as the librarian in Riverton, NJ for many years. Barky knew how to run a card catalogue.

Barky taught me how to play scrabble. She always beat me until one day – after years of competitive struggle – I finally won my first game. It was shortly before her 100th birthday party. When I won, she looked at me and said “You know, I think I may be slipping.” She wasn’t slipping: rather, her patient teaching was finally working.

Barky passed after her 100th birthday. L.L. Bean is still with us after 102 years of operations. There is nothing like engaged intelligence and integrity that holds its course faithfully for a century or more.

If you have not discovered the wonders of Bean Boots and a world of outdoor and indoor gear, you can get your catalogue here: http://www.llbean.com

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