Down the Lane: Whatever happened to aprons?
In a few years, young people may wonder what an apron is.
For ladies my age, many of us started our married lives wearing aprons. Through the years, we quit wearing them so often and now very few housewives do.
I feel certain someone’s grandmother was the first to wear an apron. Every older woman I ever knew wore an apron while I was growing up. My mom and my aunts always wore aprons. I seem to remember my grandmother cooking in the kitchen wearing an apron as well.
Many new handmade aprons were given at Christmastime. It was a gift that could be sewn from scrap material but made more special with the added trim.
Ladies would often compliment one another on their aprons. They would then proudly let them know who made it.
I have even seen aprons removed and patterns traced on old newspapers so it could be copied.
Many ladies still treasure their mother’s aprons because they are reminded of her and the good food cooked with those aprons on.
Years ago, housewives only owned one or two dresses. They had to save them and keep them in good shape to wear to church or funerals. That is where aprons came in.
My mom told me when she and my daddy married, she only owned one green dress. I could not begin to imagine that.
I am sure the dress complemented her green eyes. Hopefully she got an apron for a wedding gift. I can picture that happening back then as popular as aprons were.
Aprons were not worn just once and washed like we do today, but were often worn several times during a week. A clean one brought out for the Sunday meal.
No one worried about catching anything from an apron when I was a child. Maybe our immune systems were much stronger back then.
I remember first learning to iron my Daddy’s handkerchiefs and my Mom’s aprons. There would usually be about three in the weekly wash.
One was a lavender color with purple flowers. One was a handkerchief shape that was made from squares like a quilt square, and the other was made from gingham print.
I remember reading something that said when unexpected company would show up, it would be amazing how much dusting could get done with the tail of the apron before the company could get into the door.
My first mother-in-law used to make a sandwich board-type apron. I really wish I had it now.
I have a bad habit of wiping my hands on the sides of my slacks. The way hers were made, it would protect you all around.
I can see her now wiping her face with her apron when she was hot. She would take her glasses off her face and wipe the perspiration with the tail of her apron.
I wonder how many little kids’ noses have been wiped by the tail of an apron.
I wonder how many recipes have been ruined from being put in the pocket of an apron and forgotten.
How many farmer’s wives needed one more egg and would go out to see if the hens had laid? All the eggs in the nests were packed back in the apron pockets.
Tomatoes and vegetables from the garden made it in to the house by way of aprons many days.
Maybe my generation began getting more and more clothes or the invention of the automatic washing machine or running water being installed in the homes is the reason for the decline of the use of aprons.
It sure was easier than having to draw the water from a well and then heat it in large tubs before you could pour it into a washing machine to begin your laundry.
No wonder people had a wash day just once a week. Now we can do laundry and wash clothes any hour of the day if we so please.
I really do not know what happened, but I know there are not many aprons being worn on a daily basis.
The last time I bought an apron was on a vacation trip to the Amish country in Pennsylvania.
The Amish and Mennonites are some of the few groups of people that I am aware of who wear aprons daily from the very young housewives to the very old.
I still wear my aprons, but not often. I really should wear them daily because I have ruined quite a few nice outfits without them.
Hopefully you have some special memories of a loved one who wore aprons all the time. I bet you can still see the hook where the apron was hung when not in use.
I still like pretty aprons and I may even start wearing them more often again.
Sue Staton is a Clark County native who grew up in the Kiddville area. She is a wife, mother and grandmother who is active in her church, First United Methodist Church, and her homemakers group, Towne and Country Homemakers.