I married right after the war and the typical bridal trousseau of that time included aprons. An aunt gave me a wardrobe of aprons, each for a designated use, like serving cocktails, if you can picture it! The aprons were never worn because at that time, we were rented a bedroom in a private home that did not include kitchen privileges. We used our ration cards to eat out.
Years later, living in our own home, I answered the door to a woman, her young children and a large suitcase. She told me she was a widow and as the only support to her family, she sewed and sold aprons door-to-door. I looked at them and imagined me and my own children walking day on day, knocking on stranger’s doors and hoping for a sale.
I bought a hell of a lot of aprons from her suitcase that day and any day she rang the bell. I sent her to my friends, who were also financially fortunate and could afford to buy her aprons.
At some point I learned the “apron lady” was a Holocaust survivor. Imagine, surviving such a horror and then to survive day to day selling aprons.
Dad took grilling seriously, and in the 1960s, he was the first in the neighborhood to have natural gas piped directly to his barbeque. As the grill heated, he would run the cleaning tool over the racks one last time before starting his cooking chores.
Dad was totally in charge of the grill and whatever he was cooking, especially when it came to his hamburgers. His recipe included the proper mix of ground beef, crushed crackers, eggs and spices, which he grew in the garden. the ingredients were blended by hand and the mixture yielded eight burgers by the pound.
With the gas hook up, cooking out was the main event at our house many nights of the week. Donning his chef’s hat and apron, Dad loaded up the grill, and while it worked its magic, he’d serenade us with his harmonica.
My father was a mail carrier in Akron, Ohio from 1930-1970. One day he had a postage-due letter for a lady, so he rang her doorbell. She opened the door wearing a full length bib apron.
He told her the amount of postage due, and she told him to please wait while she went to get the money. When she turned around and walked away, he realized that the apron was ALL she had on!
When I think of aprons, I immediately visualize the aprons that were attached to meaningful times in my life, like the little apron that my grandma sewed for me – it had individual pockets for crayons. On holidays, I remember my mom wearing her “good” aprons, especially one that was black organza with a rose at the hem (I thought it was the most beautiful I’d ever seen). In 8th grade, Mrs. Dawn taught home ec and our project was sewing an apron (I worked so hard to sew it perfectly, I wish it had been saved).
My most treasured memory is of my daddy wearing his white work apron while he cooked at his restaurant, Lee’s Bar-B-Q. I can still see exactly how he tied it on clean and white, and how it looked after a hard day cooking. My brother and sister wear the same chef kind of apron today as they run the family business.
I am afraid that aprons will become a thing of the past, like the rotary phone; that this generation and future generations will have no connection whatsoever to the beauty, utility and function of an apron. They will also lose out on some priceless memories.
“My brother and I were 3 and 4 years old when we lived with our grandparents. My mother was in a hospital a long way away battling TB. My dad had tried desperately to find work, care for his little boys and go to the hospital, until he realized he needed help.
We lived with Grandma and Grandpa for 3 years. My oldest memory of that time is sitting at the kitchen table and Grandma expertly flicking the swatter at a fly getting ready to land on our food. The fly was history, except for a little bloody spot on the cloth, a spot quickly erased with the well-used Kleenex she pulled from her right apron pocket.
Unlike the recording devices used today, her apron was a record of the day’s events and meals. What video captures the aroma of the person mixed with the toils of her day? What photograph contains the feel of a child’s tugging on a woman’s cotton house dress and begging for just one more cookie? What album contains the wonder of what was hidden in the pockets of her apron?
It was Grandma who kept my brother and me safe and allowed my dad to do his best for our mother. It was her apron that wove us all together.”
“My mother and big sister insisted that I learn to sew. They gave me an apron – the kind that goes over the head and ties in the back – to hand baste bias tape over the apron’s endless edges. Reluctantly I set to the task, then attempted to throw it at my sister with a, “There! It’s done.” Alas, I had basted the ties to my playsuit. I hated sewing then and still do.”
“My Mom had a hope chest that she used to “put aside” special things for my sister and me, like beautiful pillowcases edged with lace and tablecloths that were made by my grandmother. She also stored some old clothing that had been handmade by her, which she probably hoped our daughters would wear someday. When my sister got married she took her hope chest items with her.
After both our parents died, my sister and I were going through the contents of their home. It was a very emotional task, especially when we went through the hope chest. All the years without Mom, and Dad hadn’t disturbed the chest’s contents. Inside, we found our christening gowns, little winter coats from when we were very small, caps with rabbit fur balls on the end of the tying ribbon, some linens and two tiny aprons.
This picture was taken on Christmas day, 1954. My sister’s kitty face apron is pink and white stripes, and my puppy face apron is blue and white stripes.
You can tell by our Santa haul that we were lucky little girls, and much loved by our mother, who sewed our matching aprons to tie on Christmas morning.”
“I remember my grandmother wearing a special apron at holiday time. I especially remember the time that she thought her wedding rings had gone down the sink. My dad and grandfather literally dug up the backyard that Christmas (it was really cold out!) looking for her rings. The rings were not found.
The next year at Christmas, she put her holiday apron on, and there were the rings in her apron pocket!
We tell this story at every Christmas because it reminds us of something really funny and how Grandpa would do anything to make Grandma happy.”
“I was born in 1931, during the Great Depression. The Christmas when I was 4 years old, Santa did not show up at our house with a big bag of gifts; my parents, however, did see that my brother and I got at least one gift. My brother’s present was an orange, and my gift was a little pink apron trimmed in white rickrack. I loved it and showed it to everyone. It meant so much to me, I wore it until it was falling apart.
That little apron was such a sacrifice to my parents. I can’t imagine what they went without so I might not be disappointed on Christmas morning. It was my best Christmas present ever.”
“At one point in my life, our family lived in Budapest. The home was uniquely designed, with the kitchen (cooking room) and bathroom located in two separate outbuildings. My mother was very sophisticated and the outdoor location of the “facility’ was a compromise to her ladylike standards.
She was once occupying the bathroom when we heard screaming from the backyard. As we ran to see what was the matter, she was shuffling about the yard holding her dress up and with her undergarment around her ankles.
My father tried to calm her, but it was impossible. She was hysterical, crying, Something crawled up the toilet bowl hole and attached itself to my bottom!
Turns out, the something was the fluttering of her apron ties.”
“This photo was taken by my father at my grandparent Crawford’s house in Memphis, Tennessee on Christmas Day in the late 1950’s.
My grandmother is standing next to my grandfather who is seated at the head of the table. My dad’s cousins are the other two ladies standing and all three women are dressed to the nines and wearing their freshly laundered and ironed ‘fancy’ aprons for the holidays. My grandmother likely sewed them and embroidered the designs on them. I can almost smell the homemade yeast rolls on the table, along with all the pies I know are sitting in the kitchen waiting for their turn at the table.
Oh, to go back and rejoice in those days again.”