An apron retrospective

April 01, 2008 by barbara

barbara writes

Friend Marion wondered whether we ever hang aprons up on the clothesline. Sent me a piece about 'em, just in case. The answer is yes, we do hang aprons, beginning today.

Funny. Right around the first of the year, I decided I needed an apron. A bib-type. Kinda French cheffie lookin' for those mac and cheese creations, you know?

I made a couple of aprons in junior high sewing class. One of them was made of dotted Swiss. Totally impractical, but very pretty.

Anyway, the piece starts here and finishes up under the fold, so to speak.

Do you think our kids and grands even know what an apron is?

The principal use of Grandma's apron was to protect the dress underneath, but along with that, it served as a potholder for removing hot pans from the oven.

It was wonderful for drying children's tears, and on occasion was even used for cleaning out dirty ears. Read on!

From the chicken coop, the apron was used for carrying eggs, fussy chicks, and sometimes half-hatched eggs to be finished in the warming oven.

When company came, those aprons were ideal hiding places for shy kids.

And when the weather was cold, grandma wrapped her apron around her arms.

Those big old aprons wiped many a perspiring brow, poised over
the hot wood stove.

Chips and kindling wood were brought into the kitchen in that apron.

From the garden, aprons carried all sorts of vegetables. After the peas had been shelled, the apron carried out the hulls.

In the fall, the apron was used to bring in windfall apples.

When unexpected company drove up the road, it was
surprising how much furniture that old apron could dust in a matter of seconds.

When dinner was ready, Grandma walked out onto the porch, waved her apron, and the men knew it was time to come in from the fields to eat.

Yup. Grandma used to set her hot baked apple pies on the window sill to cool. Her granddaughters set theirs on the window sill to thaw. And they’d probably go crazy trying to figure out how many germs were on those old aprons. But I don't think I ever caught anything from an apron. Did you?

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Anonymous (not verified) | April 1, 2008 - 8:36am

In the spirit of April Fool's Day: Aprons made wonderful objects of trickery for little boys, too, when they would sneak up behind mother and untie her apron strings. (Foreshadowing for leaving home eventually?) My mother would respond every time in such a way ("You rascal!") that I felt cherished.


susan | April 1, 2008 - 2:22pm

And little girls. In my house my mother did the cooking, and yes, she wore an apron, but for dinner parties she often hired Nellie to help serve the food. My trick on Nellie was to gently hang on to the end of her apron tie just as she pushed her way through the swinging door into the dining room where the grown ups sat. With both hands holding whatever dish she was about to serve, she could do nothing to keep the apron from slowly slipping off and onto the floor. I remember this as a jolly trick that I played on her many times, but in reality, I bet I did it once, caught hell for it from both Nellie and my mother, and didn't try it again.


barbara says (not verified) | April 1, 2008 - 4:47pm

Oh, crikey! All of this reminds me of Gudrun Carlson. She was (to my child mind) an ancient Scandinavian woman hired by my mother to clean a little, cook a little, iron a lot and mostly be there when my brother (and I) got home from school. Mother was single in those days, working full time and needed help with her precocious daughter and her son who had mental retardation.

Anyway, Mrs. Carlson always wore her gray hair swept up high into a loose bun. But always, there were runaway locks that tumbled into her face, and I can still picture her, standing at the ironing board -- in her apron! -- twirling the hair around her finger and tucking it back, away from her face. For a while.

She was an absolutely charming woman. Heavy Swedish accent. And always and ever wore her bib apron over her clothes. She arrived with the apron on and left with it on. So I have absolutely no recollection of her other garments. Dresses, though. And sensible shoes. And not a spot of makeup. My brother adored her, and that was worth gold to Mother, I imagine.