I remember standing in Mom Johnson’s kitchen while the ‘womenfolk’ worked around the big oak table that demanded its space in the middle of the room. Aprons hung by the backroom door (along with the bonnets) where everyone could grab one and set to the task of cooking. Aunt Welma, Mom Johnson and Mom, in aprons, moved to an invisible choreographed dance, cooking, preparing the table and never once running into one another. I was small and loved to smell the wonderful aromas that filled those aprons. Aprons were probably worn to protect one of the few dresses that women owned back then. We didn’t do laundry often and had few pieces of clothing. I don’t know if we did the ‘sniff and wear’ test, but I know that we did wear clothing longer than one day. It went along with the baths taken once a week depending on layers of dirt. That’s another topic. So Mom in her apron protected a precious dress. Aprons were used as hot pad holders when transporting a pie from stove to table. They could carry produce from the garden to the kitchen. An apron was a great rag to wave, spooking an escapee cow back to the barnyard. A few eggs could be carried in an apron as well as a few precious morels. Hands could be dried, dust could be removed and tears wiped away.
When I was married, I bought pretty, crisp aprons for the servers to wear. Pretty aprons that couldn’t catch a spill much less dry a tear. My mother had several of these aprons as well from weddings past. If I had suggested to my future daughter-in-law that we buy aprons for servers, her reply would be, “What servers? What aprons!?” Yes, the wedding apron has gone by the wayside along with doilies, embroidered pillow cases and, yes, the handkerchief.
I purchased old aprons at estate sales for my granddaughters and their friends to wear when painting. My son has an apron for cooking over the grill. I have an apron for cooking in the closet, er, hanging in the closet for cooking. Hm. I don’t like to cook. I don’t use the apron.
I made my first apron in 4-H many years ago…….many, many years ago. I moved it around for years before deciding I would never wear it again. It was white with black polka dots and pockets across the front handy for toting kitchen utensils and envelopes when I went for the mail. For the life of me, I can’t remember anything ever finding its way into the apron pockets. I can even remember the apron finding its way around my waist.
The saying “tied to the apron strings” is no longer valid. Evidently we have become tidier cooks no longer in need of these pieces of cloth. The tenderness of a mother’s touch wiping a brow or drying a tear with her apron is gone. The smell of the kitchen no longer lies hidden in the cloth. But the memories of the women in my family wearing a well-worn apron, tied in back with a neat bow continues to bring a smile to my face and abundant memories. I guess I am still tied to the apron strings.
Pam Drake is a former resident of Darke County and is the author of Neff Road and A Grandparent Voice blog. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Viewpoints expressed in these opinion pieces are the work of the author. The Daily Advocate does not endorse these viewpoints or the independent activities of the author.