Tuesday, August 15, 2006

The Great Cover Up


Been thinking lately about -- of all things -- aprons. It may be that aprons are part of my mother's legacy to me. I remember being a very little girl and being in the kitchen with her and having an adult's half-style apron tied so that it hung from my neck almost like some sort of peculiar bib, and feeling so grown up because I was wearing an apron. I imagine that we were making and decorating Christmas cookies, because that is the only time I was allowed to "cook."
. . . .
By the year of the fateful Christmas gift, I'd grown past the idea that wearing an apron was a cool thing, a badge of honor. I opened a package one December 25 to find two strange things made from fabric. Mystified and tactless as a 9-or-10-year-old would be, I said, "What's this?" In a hurt tone, my mother replied, "They're two nice aprons I made you." I wasn't impressed. But I can still see them in my mind's eye -- they were really very pretty and beautifully made. One was a yellow background with pink flowers and miniscule dots; the other was green with a motif of those kinds of paper dolls that we used to cut out of folded paper, all in a line, holding hands. I wonder if kids still make those?
. . . .
Seventh grade brought junior high and the much anticipated Home Ec class. I'd been looking forward to it so much. But Miss Twining was a critical tyrant, expecting perfection from awkward 12-year-old hands. My first sewing project, the apron, was agonizing. Mother had given me some dark green and white check fabric. The required pattern was a cobbler style apron, with bias binding applied just about everywhere. I thought that the semester would never end, that I'd be sewing on bias binding for the rest of my life. I didn't deserve more than the C- I got for my apron, and the next year when it was time for sewing Miss Twining suggested I make something that doesn't show, "like a slip." She didn't have any confidence in my cooking either, when we got to that, but I digress.
. . . .
I don't remember wearing aprons in the early years of marriage, but I know that by the time we were living at Smitty's and I was very pregnant and that belly sticking out there seemed to be a magnet for everything I was cooking, I started wearing aprons. And have never stopped. Only the ones that start out hanging around the neck and tie at the waist will do; never the topless model. I prefer darker colors, and an apron without at least one pocket is no good at all. I keep two or three of them hanging on hooks in the cellarway. Reaching for one is so reflexive that I can't even empty a clean dishwasher without putting an apron on.
. . . .
My daughter, my daughters-in-law, none of them owns an apron and none seems to think she is missing anything. I like to help in the kitchen when I'm there, and I finally took one to keep at Sherry's. I hung it in her cellarway. I think I'll take and leave aprons the next time I visit Amy and Anastasia so that I don't have to remember to bring one each time I visit. Neither of them has a cellarway, but that's not going to stop me.
. . . .
Lynn, one of the finest cooks I know, doesn't seem to use them. But Sister Bonnie does and I can't imagine that Cousin Lois doesn't (Aunt Helen would roll over). I know the Good Guys, some of them at least, go in for aprons. Carol gave Peggy and Dottie and me some pretty Christmas aprons the year of the great Tom Paul pay-off. I made each of them an apron out of chicken fabric Christmas before last. I THINK Cessie has offered me an apron when I've helped in her kitchen, but I'm not positive. But at church, when working in that great big awkward kitchen, not very many people bring and wear aprons -- is it lack of interest or lack of memory?
. . . .
I've been pondering all of this of late, wondering if it is a familial thing, a cooking style thing, or -- heaven forfend -- a generational thing. Wondering if my readers wear or eschew aprons, and thinking, actually, that when I go to get the ones to take to Alexandria and Richmond, I might just pick up a new one for me!

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

I love aprons! I often wear one when making dinner, especially if I am running late and John is hungry and I haven't changed out of my work clothes. My favorite apron is made of a batik (what else???) fabric and I got it from a uniform catalog.

Kathy B

Susan said...

I suspect it has more to do with wash and wear clothes, than anything else. When you can just toss your clothes in the washer and dryer, and have them come out clean and wrinkle-free, why bother with an apron?

I think aprons are cool. My home ec project was an apron, too, but it was the waist tie kind, and I did Swedish embroidery across the bottom.

Haven't thought of that in years. Probably if I'd had to bind anything at that point in my life, I'd never have become a quilter a few years later!

Ms. Jan said...

My Mom always wore an apron and it was a guaranteed hit as a gift for her. My MIL never wears one and never spills either--go figure that!

I love them and have many patterns for them as well. When I'm wearing already stained "house clothes" I don't wear one, but if I'm wearing anything even remotely decent, the apron goes on.

Thanks for a great post.

Rayski said...

This post about aprons so reminds me of my mother. She was a "housewife." Every evening an hour or so before my dad was due home, she would change into a nice dress, put on lipstick, fix her hair, and wear an apron while she cooked dinner. When I was a kid, I wore aprons, but haven't in a long, long time.

What's a cellerway??

Ray, who has only lived on the west coast.