I don’t think our children know what an apron is. Oh yes, you see chefs wearing one sometimes in a restaurant, and famous people on TV cooking wearing one. But they are not the aprons of the old days.
An apron keeps your clothes from contaminating the food and keeps you from getting food on your clothes. But there are many other uses, as you will see.
An apron is not used by the average cook these days … that is, the cook in their own home.
Maybe we aren’t as messy as we were or just in too big a hurry to put on an apron.
I have one, but rarely use it, except when flour is involved – very messy! Once I even put it on my then three-year-old grandson, who wore it proudly as we baked cookies.
The big apron that covered the whole front of your body was a basic part of my grandmother’s daily attire. My grandmother Grace always wore a dress around the house. She was born in 1898 and never wore slacks in her life. When she got ready for the day, she put on her dress, her stockings, her lace-up shoes with chunky little heels and the over-the-head, around-the-neck apron that tied in the back.
She had several to go with different clothes, I suppose. Of course, one had to always be in the wash, because she cooked three meals a day, most everything from what we would call scratch. She didn’t seem to wear the apron to do other housework, but it was a must in her tiny kitchen, where she produced fantastic meals and dished out lots of love (in her own German descendant way) to her grandchildren.
A friend shared this story about the apron, which is what brought back all those memories about the times I spent with my grandmother: “The principal use of grandma’s apron was to protect the dress underneath, because she only had a few. It was also because it was easier to wash aprons than dresses, and aprons used less material.
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.
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 it around her arms. Those big old aprons wiped many a perspiring brow, bent over the hot stove.
From the garden, it carried all sorts of vegetables. After the peas had been shelled, it carried out the hulls. In the fall, the apron was used to bring in apples that had fallen from the trees. 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 folk knew it was time to come in from the fields to dinner. It will be a long time before someone invents something that will replace that ‘old-time apron’ that served so many purposes.”
Grandma used to set her hot-baked apple pies on the windowsill to cool. Now, some of us set ours on the windowsill to thaw. Some would go crazy now trying to figure out how many germs were on that apron.
Yes, the apron is a disappearing tradition!
(Melanie Behrens – firstname.lastname@example.org)
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