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Aprons and More Aprons

Screen Shot 2015-09-10 at 8.07.50 AMAprons are not just for mothers and grandmothers, and a cook’s apron can tell you if you want to eat what’s on the dinner table. I thought I’d shared everything about aprons in a previous column, but some friends’ comments pushed me to write more.

When Kay’s son was a high school student, he asked for an apron for Christmas and he didn’t plan to cook. He put it on every school morning before he left home. All the crumbs from his breakfast that he ate as he drove, fell on the apron, not his clothes. I wonder if his football teammates knew he wore an apron. Do they tease him or wish they were brave enough to slip one over their heads?

One Christmas I surprised Son with an apron. He unwrapped his gift, saw bright orange fabric and said, “Oh, a Lickity Split apron.” LickitySplit – the convenience store that Husband owned when Son was a kid. Son stood, slipped the neck strap over his head, and then said, “Wow! This is great! It’s long enough.” The standard Lickity Split apron didn’t cover much of Son’s 6’9” frame. But when I cut the bottom off of one and sewed it onto another, that extra long apron was just right. On work mornings, he dresses for the day and wears his apron while making and eating breakfast with my Grand who awakes before the sun comes up. And Son is a grill master – the spots on his apron prove it.

My friends agree that a spotless apron means one of two things: it’s never been worn or don’t trust the cook. A good cook’s apron has stains. Squirts of spaghetti sauce, splatters of bacon grease, drippings from barbequed ribs, and blackberry purple blotches. If the cook’s apron is spotless, I say, “You know I’m really not very hungry. I won’t eat much.” Maybe the cook is wearing a brand new apron, but I have an out until I take a few bites and can decide that I’m hungrier than I thought.

A gardening apron hangs on a hook in my laundry room. Bib style made of heavy fabric and with big pockets along the bottom – perfect to carry a digging trowel and I’m not sure what else because I’ve never put a gardening tool in it. I discovered those pockets are also perfect for feather dusters, dust cloths, spray cleaner, and a few paper towels. I should wear it more often or give it to a gardener.

One of my favorite aprons is a waist apron with ties much too short to reach around my waist, but it’d fit one of my young Grands perfectly. It’s made of bright yellow cotton fabric and trimmed with decorative tape with tiny red and yellow flowers.  This apron has many deep narrow pockets, the perfect size for crayons, and two larger pockets. Crayons, scissors, and mucilage glue – that’s what was in the pockets when Mom gave me this little yellow apron, that she’d made, for my sixth birthday.

I’m told there are specialty job aprons. For welders, seed-sowers, chefs, waiters, potters, blacksmiths, artists. But somehow, when I think of an apron, the first one to come to mind is still a green and white one that tied around Mother’s waist. And it’s covered with stains.



Tie On an Apron

imgresJust the word apron makes me smile. Granny’s aprons were part of her day’s attire and used for many tasks, including carrying eggs from the henhouse. Grandma Gladys’ aprons were stained with bacon grease. And I can see Mother wearing her green and red striped apron and standing at her white Westinghouse stove as she stirred milk and sugar and Cocoa for a chocolate cream pie. All their aprons tied around the waist, officially called waist aprons.

Granny tied a clean apron over her dress every morning. Her daily attire was a cotton, button-up-the-front dress, long sleeves in the winter and short sleeves in the summer, and an apron that somewhat matched her dress. Granny made aprons from flour sacks that held twenty-five pounds of flour. The sack, ripped open at the seam and laid flat, just needed three sides hemmed and one side gathered. Stitch the gathers to a front waistband, in a complementary fabric, and attach long strings to the waistband. The fabric strings were one or two inches wide and long enough to tie in a bow in the back or wrapped around the waist and tied in the front. Granny wore her apron all day, except when she went to town or church or visited a friend.

When she chopped weeds or hoed her garden, Granny used her apron to wipe sweat from her face. And she held the bottom of her apron up to form a pouch with one hand and picked black-eyed peas with her other. Then she sat on the white church bench on her front porch and shelled the peas right into her apron. No need for a bucket or a pan. And although Granny always had chickens and gathered eggs, she never owned an egg basket.   Her apron held eggs quite well.

Grandma Gladys’ aprons were gifts from her three daughters and she tied hers high above her waist to catch bacon grease splatters. She was the master at frying meats and vegetables. Seems she wore the same apron for a week, until washday on Monday. Because Grandma liked pretty things, some of her aprons were decorated with ruffles along the bottom hem.

Mother tied an apron around her waist only when she worked in the kitchen – cooking or canning or freezing. She wore the same one until it wasn’t clean – sometimes once, sometimes several days. And if it could be worn again, she tied her apron to a kitchen drawer handle when she took it off.   Some of hers were originally flour sacks – striped or solid fabric, no tiny floral prints for Mother – but she made some Sunday aprons from store-bought fabric. Fabric she’d bought on sale or fabric left over from a dress she made.

When I cook, I pull a bib style apron over my head. I need a whole body apron – not a waist one. I wouldn’t dare slice tomatoes or brown beef roast without a covering. I’m so messy that if I didn’t wear an apron, I’d have to change clothes to be presentable at the dinner table. Before I get the cornmeal and buttermilk out to make cornbread, I slip an apron over my head, wrap the ties around my waist and tie it in the front – all in one motion.

And I keep an apron handy – hanging on a kitchen cabinet doorknob. That’s just the way I was raised.