APRONS

The following was written–and posted–in 2011; since then I have added more full size aprons to my collection and aprons are just as hot four years later as they were in 2011.

A few years ago, a girlfriend and I were in an antique store when I came across a “vintage” bib apron, perhaps 1940s, – and fell in love.
“Could you make something like this for me?” I asked my girlfriend, who sews (I don’t sew. I cook. We can’t all do everything!)

She said she could, and she did–and now I have three of these big aprons, with big roomy pockets and I am seldom without one.
I found myself re-discovering aprons and wondering why, when you watch the chefs on the Food Network – none of them ever wears an apron! (I have ruined many a blouse or dress from cooking sans an apron–but these days you’ll seldom find me without one).

The aprons of my childhood bring to mind the voluminous ones worn by my Grandma Schmidt, who was as round as she was tall. Her dresses reached her ankles and her aprons were equally long and wide with huge pockets. I discovered, a few years ago, how handy aprons with pockets are when you go out to check the tomatoes in the garden and find yourself with handfuls of ripe tomatoes and no basket to put them into. The apron pockets work well. I also fill the pockets with clothespins when I am hanging linens or sheets on the clothesline. (Yes, some of us do still hang things on the line-but that’s another story).

Years ago, people didn’t have wardrobes the size of ours, today–and aprons, which could be easily washed, protected good dresses which might not have all been washable (never mind that everything had to be ironed too–perma-press hadn’t been invented yet) . I think the only times I ever saw Grandma without an apron were when she was going downtown (plus hat, dressy shoes, her handbag, and stockings) or to church. My mother also wore aprons but most of the ones in which she was photographed, were the half-size aprons. I, myself, need a bib apron because the spills and splashes usually land somewhere on my chest.

Aprons have a respectably long history, too – the earliest mention of an apron is in the biblical story of the Garden of Eden when Adam and Eve discovered they were naked and fashioned aprons from fig leaves. In the middle ages aprons became especially well known, as European craftsmen wore aprons as part of their everyday garments–old paintings of blacksmiths invariably picture them wearing a big old leather apron of some kind. I remember, as a child, the big white (well, originally it was white) aprons worn by the butcher in the butcher shops where my grandma went to buy a chicken or a cut of beef. There are also aprons used by carpenters which have many pockets to hold necessary tools. (hmmm, I think I would like to have one like that).

The apron worn in the kitchen was a fixture for more than a century, until the late 1970s–when it seems to have disappeared from our culinary landscape. Perhaps it has something to do with the perfect housewife image portrayed by the fifties–you know, “Father knows Best” and mother is always pictured wearing an apron with a wooden spatula in one hand, standing over the stove (Shades of Ozzie and Harriet?) Then women became liberated and burned not only their bras but also their aprons.

I always had a few aprons but they had been relegated to a seldom used linen drawer. Now, I have aprons within easy reach on several hangers on doors in the kitchen and I am not in the least embarrassed to be seen wearing one. (Some of them are really quite stylish, I think – and I love the pockets. Along with clothespins and Kleenex, I am usually carrying around my cell phone and digital camera).

For Christmas, my penpal/friend/and computer guru, Wendy, sent me two wonderful very retro looking aprons. Then my penpal Bev brought me a neat apron that she bought on a recent trip to Alaska – it has chocolate moose all over the print – and the her daughter brought me a new very-valentine-ish apron when she visited. Four new aprons in one year…can life get any better than this?

And not long ago I discovered a really great website dedicated to aprons after it was written about in the Los Angeles Times. Everything old is new again! I love it.

I am still mystified, however – how do all those people on the Food Network manage to cook entire meals (without wearing an apron) and without getting any of it on themselves?

If you Google “aprons” you will find a whole lot more websites devoted to this topic!

Happy cooking!

Sandy

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2 responses to “APRONS

  1. Sandy ~ I enjoyed reading your apron article…it made me smile. I had a Grandma Schmidt too.(Is Schmidt the German equivalent of Smith…??) But her daughter (Grandma Betty) was the one who taught me the finer points of food preparation. She had a closet in her kitchen filled with aprons – bib types with pattern prints for the girls and big white ones for the men to use while they were butchering deer and such.
    Like you, I ruined many a shirt in the ‘no apron’ phase of life and have since returned to the ‘old ways.’ I have taken to buying aprons while traveling as mementos. The most recent one is from Austria; it looks like the front of Julie Andrew’s dress in the Sound of Music. It’s almost too pretty to consider making a miss in!
    I’d love to see photos of your apron collection…specifically, close-ups of the big pocket one that you had custom made. Thanks again for the enjoyable read.

    • Hello Lisa, funny that you had a Grandma Schmidt too!! That’s a first. Is the closet with the aprons still in the family or has it gone the way of breaking up housekeeping?
      You have given me an idea – I am going to try to photograph all of the aprons–but not just the aprons – I will have either my daughter in law take them of me, or have family members wear them for me to photograph. The aprons shown on my introductory page are from my collection–someone who pushed and prodded me to have a blog–and took the pictures & set it all up–I sent her pictures of my aprons – and this was about 6 years ago; I’ve acquired a lot more since then. And I have received aprons from friends or family members who brought them back from a vacation. One is from Alaska. I have no idea how many I have now; it might be time to count them. Most of the half aprons belonged to the aunt of my best friend–when her uncle died – the aunt had already passed away – and there were no children – my friend had the job of cleaning out their house, lived in for many many years. I received about a dozen (maybe more?) of Aunt Joey’s aprons (now wondering if I didnt write about this on my blog at the time) I also received some handwritten recipes in one of those black & white speckled notebooks that kids use at school (yes, another collection–recipe boxes and handwritten recipe collections that are pretty hard to find but oh, so interesting when you do find one!)
      Thanks for writing – I’ll see what I can do to get my aprons photographed. – Sandy@sandychatter

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