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The Long Leather Coat

My uncle was a tailor who once made a long leather coat. People often commented on his coat.
 
“What a beautiful coat you have,” they would say, “Where did you get it?”
 
And he would say, “I made it myself.”
 
“Oh, could you make me one?” they would say.
 
“Of course,” he would reply.
 
He wore the coat everywhere and because of the coat his business thrived. But eventually the coat began to wear out. Mud splashed on the bottom. The cuffs began to tatter and the large collar, which he often flipped up against the cold, began to look bedraggled. He couldn’t wear a coat like that so he threw it away. He tossed it onto the scrap heap. He did not like the idea of wasting such a large piece of leather but what could he make of that scrap?
 
Well he thought about it. He looked at that scrap. He decided that if he cut a little here and clipped a little there he could make a jacket. And that is what he did. He loved this jacket. He wore it everywhere. He wore it to his wedding and the birth of his son. But the collar continued to wear out. He wore a hole in the elbow and the bottom edge became tattered. He couldn’t wear a jacket like that so he threw it away. He tossed it onto the scrap heap. He did not like the idea of wasting such a large piece of leather but what could he make of that scrap?
 
Well he thought about it. He looked at that scrap. He decided that if he cut a little here and clipped a little there he could make a vest. And that is what he did. He loved this vest. He wore it everywhere. He wore it to his daughter’s baptism and the funeral of his father. But he spilled a drink on the vest and the pockets wore out from constantly checking his pocket watch. He couldn’t wear a vest like that so he threw it away. He tossed it onto the scrap heap. He did not like the idea of wasting such a large piece of leather but what could he make of that scrap?
 
Well he thought about it. He looked at that scrap. He decided that if he cut a little here and clipped a little there he could make a hat. And that is what he did. He loved this hat. He wore it everywhere. He wore it to his daughter’s graduation and his son’s wedding. The hat kept the rain off his head and the sun out of his eyes. He loved tipping his hat to the fine young ladies of the village. But the brim wore out and the sun and rain bleached the top. He couldn’t wear a hat like that so he threw it away. He tossed it onto the scrap heap. He did not like the idea of wasting such a large piece of leather but what could he make of that scrap?
 
Well he thought about it. He looked at that scrap. He decided that if he cut a little here and clipped a little there he could make a tie. And that is what he did. He loved this tie. He wore it everywhere. He wore it to his mother’s funeral and the birth of his grandson. But he spilled a drink on it and the knot began to wear thin. He couldn’t wear a tie like that so he threw it away. He tossed it onto the scrap heap. He did not like the idea of wasting such a large piece of leather but what could he make of that?
 
Well he thought about it. He looked at the scrap. He decided that if he cut a little here and clipped a little there he could make a button for a new long leather coat. And that is what he did. He loved this new coat. He wore it everywhere. But one day as he was unbuttoning his coat the button popped off and landed in the mud. He picked it up and wiped it off. It was covered with dirt and grim. He couldn’t wear a button like that so he threw it away. WAIT. He did not like the idea of wasting such a SMALL piece of leather but what could he make of that? He thought about it and thought about it. He thought about all the memories and he knew what he had to make. He had just enough leather to make…a…STORY! And that is what he did. And he told it to me. And I have now told it to you. So you can tell this story, too!
 
Tips for Telling
 
I love the repetition and so do young audiences. Invite them to chant along with some of the repetitive lines.
I recently used a large sheet of brown craft paper for bulletin boards to make a life size copy of the coat. I had a volunteer from the audience stand on a chair and hold up the coat as if he were my uncle. Whispering in his ear, I asked him to simple do what the story says. For example if the story says tip your hat, tip your hat. He pantomimed the story as I told it. He held the large piece of paper as I trimmed it into each of the new items as the story went along. I gave him the button at the end as a souvenir.
When the story was over we drew a story map on the board to chart out the sequential order of the story. I then asked them to tell it with me and then to tell it to a partner. With an 81/2” X 11” sheet of paper and scissors older students could cut their own small coat.