Thursday, September 10, 2009

The Age of the Apron


My friend, Barbara Schubach sent me this history. I've rewritten it in poetry as I think it's touching.

THE AGE OF THE APRON.

Remember the apron, ladies? Oh well, probably not!
I expect it's just in the past for you and you just don't care a jot!
It's strange how things drop out of favour when the fashions change!
We just don't heed their passing until they're out of range.
'Whatever happened to so-and-so?' we may idly think,
But we never notice the decline when they're merely on the brink.
'I haven't seen an apron for years and years and years!'
That's what they say, when questioned, but they don't shed any tears.
I don't possess an apron, but their heyday I recall,
In my Mother's kitchen, where one hung on the wall.
*
Why did women wear aprons? They wore them, as they toiled,
To stop the 'good' dress underneath getting splashed and soiled.
Their wardrobes were so limited and precious. Furthermore
Washing, drying, ironing....each one was a heavy chore.
There were no such things as oven-mitts, so the apron held the pot
Fresh out of the oven and dangerously hot.
It was great for drying babies' tears, and even wiping faces,
Cleaning away the jammy stains and other meal-time traces.
An apron helped with egg-collection, even carrying chicks,
Several fluffy little ones, maybe five or six.
They'd be carried into the kitchen if they all hatched-out together,
To cheep and cheep in a straw-filled box away from chilly weather.
The apron wiped away the sweat when bending near the fire,
Or when the summer sun beat down causing mothers to perspire.
An apron could always shelter a shy and flustered child,
For it was quite voluminous and very amply styled.
If visitors were expected the apron got rid of dust
As mother wiped it around the house in time for arrivals......just!
A 'multi-purpose garment' was the apron, in a way.
It's rather sad to think the apron seems to have had its day
*

A special lady in an apron here:

26 comments:

Jeeves said...

I love apron. Infact wanted to grow up and have one. But dont have it. Nice post,

Alan Burnett said...

Less of this gender-specific "Remember the apron ladies" stuff. I was wearing one last night to help cook dinner. Great poem.

Margaret Gosden said...

Aprons are still in. I shall be wearing mine this afternoon (with the pearls) cooking a la Julia! They are useful for the same reasons and now often have pockets, a la kangeroos!

Jo said...

Hi Brenda, I grew up with the adult women in our family wearing aprons. when I got married, aprons were still the fashion. I actually collected them as still have about four. I wear them when working in the kitchen and thought about packing one to bring up to this home when I return from leave. Thanks for a wonderful post.

Patty said...

Believe it or not, my Mother still puts on a long apron, by long, I'm talking about like one in the photo, not a half apron, before she starts cooking a meal, then when the dishes are done up, she removes it and hangs it in the kitchen for the next time.

Bee said...

You know what I love about that apron? It looks so soft; as if has been washed many times. (Perfect for wiping faces and runny noses.) Your lovely poem encompasses the entire social history of this once commonplace thing!

It also reminds me of an anecdote I heard today when I was working at the Jane Austen House. One of the other stewards told me that a group of W.I. women had visited . . . and that while they were admiring the piano she had teased one of them into playing "Jerusalem" on it. After a few notes, some of the women started singing -- and then she said that they ALL started singing. We both teared up just thinking about it.

Sometimes I miss that jam-making world. Sigh.

Rose said...

Oh, this brings back so many memories! My grandmother always wore an apron like this, not just around the kitchen, but yes, she would wear it to gather eggs in the hen-house. As a child, I had my own small apron, and I can remember my mother making fancy ones out of sheer material for wedding receptions and teas. I don't know why they went out of fashion--lord knows I should wear one, as messy as I am:)

I came over to visit your ABC post, which I enjoyed, but this tribute to the apron struck a chord with me. Thank you so much for posting this!

Valerie said...

Wow Brenda, this is so WI. Loved it.

Anonymous said...

Hi Brenda,
I love your apron post. My mother always wore an apron, and as a live in maid I wear a uniform dress and apron. Being born in England in the 30's you probably are aware of the typical "English" maids uniforms, well, my employer prefers the traditional maids style uniform. My aprons are not only for keeping dresses clean they are also a statement "maid on duty"...

Kim.

hummer said...

Thanks so much for sharing this link with me. I have linked it to my post. You have a wonderful way with words.
Thanks
Frances

Rocky Mountain Woman said...

I never wear anything nice enough to worry about an apron, but I do have a few around for guest chefs!

EG Wow said...

Occasionally I see an apron nowadays but I confess that I don't have one.

Stacia said...

My children both have aprons, but I don't. Isn't that funny? (Also, I love the poem you linked to about your grandmother!)

Riet said...

I still some times use my apron and I didn't realise they were not in fashion any more. Great A word

Coralie Cederna Johnson said...

Apron Tales!!! Awesome!
Thank you for sharing!
Coralie

Betty (picture circa 1951) said...

To this day if I close my eyes and imagine my mother she's wearing an apron. Some years before she died she gave me her Christmas apron and every year I hang it on a hook in the kitchen.

Wanda said...

And women used to dress up much more around the house than we do now. They had to wear aprons in order to protect nice clothes and, as you say, washing, drying, and ironing were much more of chore then than they are now.

Vicki/Jake said...

Awww,I've seen this little story before and love it. I remember, wear and still love aprons. In fact, an apron brought two blog ladies together yesterday. I'll be posting about it soon:)

Teresa said...

I actually like aprons. You may have just inspired me to get out my sewing machine and make my own. Very cute poem.

taylorsoutback said...

My Grammy always wore a clean apron when in the kitchen...she was an excellent cook and baker. Always wore a dress and of course that apron protected it beautifully.

There is quite a history of apron wearing among Lutheran ladies in Wisconsin and Minnesota. They had a different apron for every church function...weddings, funerals...

PⒿ @ $ € € ₦$ ₣®0₥... said...

You did a great job creating a poem from it!

I love aprons because, when I was growing up, everyone wore one.

My husband is a chef and he wears them all the time.

anitamombanita said...

Yup. My mom always wore an apron. I never do, but probably should! Fun poem.

Tammy Gail said...

I think the apron may be making a come back. My 30 something daughter has been telling me she wants a fun girly one!! Love the post/poem!

upinthecosmos said...

Love it, I was thinking not too long ago "whatever happened to people wearing aprons?". It seems like even chefs have done away with them... they of course have coats & uniforms they wear, which are white... how crazy, you'd think they'd choose a color that wouldn't stain so easily!

Judie said...

I wish aprons would come back into fashion! I have the cleverest apron that is shaped like a giant fried egg.

Jenny said...

I love aprons! Totally adore them!

I wear them constantly...I've even been known to head to the grocery store wearing mine...(how embarassing that particular thing is - ha!)

I really enjoyed this post!

Thanks for the smile!

A+