Thursday, February 23, 2012

Tied to apron string memories

A friend gave me an apron for Christmas. It's a beauty - with ruffled layers of lime green, cherry red, and royal blue. It makes me happy to look at it, and I feel cheerful when I wear it. Which is on special occasions.

Aprons are not the staple of kitchen wear today that they once were. My mother wore an apron - most often to protect her Sunday dress from spatter as she fried the chicken we'd have when we came home from church. She didn't wear an apron everyday. Not like my grandmothers.

My grandmothers donned their aprons each morning as they dressed. They'd no more have gone to the kitchen without an apron then they would have stepped out without their shoes. They used their aprons for far more than protecting their clothes. Aprons were potholders, they were for drying hands and tears and wiping away sweat, they were slings for carrying apples and eggs and vegetables. Far easier to wash an apron than the dress it covered. On a visit to the Living History Farm in Des Moines, I learned that aprons were the first line of defense from sparks flying out of the wood cookstove.

Aprons figure prominently in the novel I'm writing about farm life in the early 1900s. Tying on an apron puts me in the mood and the mindset of that time. Wearing an apron, I feel more capable. In an apron, I join the ranks of farm women who went into the kitchen every day and worked the magic that brought meals to the table and contributed to the stability of farm living. Women in aprons got things done.

Do you have a favorite apron or apron memory? If you do, I'd like to hear about it.


  1. I remember my Grandma Canfield always with an apron on, like you said, Carol. Also, my own mother always with an apron. My parents had a restaurant business, so this was always part of her attire. My own favorite apron is one that my sister gave to me. It is red and white checked and has an adjustable strap that goes around the neck. It's so cute and helps to make me feel very much in charge when I have it on. :-)

  2. I expect fixing meals pre modern kitchen conveniences required our grandparents to be in the kitchen as many hours as your parents were in running a restaurant. Just like you, Kathy, when my mom put on her apron, she was in charge. You don't mess with a woman in an apron!

  3. My mother-in-law was here to visit a couple of years ago. We got out the lefse grill and started getting ready for an afternoon of baking. "I don't suppose you have an apron," she said. Why, yes! Yes, I do! I have my grandmother's apron in the drawer by my kitchen sink with all the dish towels. :)