When I grew up aprons were made out of chicken feed sacks. This sounds odd and sort of gross until you know that during and after the Second World War these chicken feed sacks were made from one yard of calico. It was a selling point, I’m sure, since every backyard I knew of had a few chickens and a vegetable garden. That company wanted the chicken feed business of millions of women backyard farmers. Women also used these sacks for curtains, little girls dresses, napkins, place mats and pillow covers. The trick was to get enough sacks of feed of one pattern at one time to get the job done. It was a time of careful frugality.

Back to aprons though. Ordinary, every day aprons were once voluminous affairs compared to the stiff straight canvas barbecue aprons we normally see now. These current aprons have one function – keep your clothes clean when you cook. Aprons my Mother and Grandmother wore were for keeping clean and oh so much more. A good apron for every day wear was used as a pot holder to pull a dish out of the oven, wipe tears away, mop a sweaty brow, dry your hands fast when someone came to the door, and hold the freshly gathered eggs or vegetables from a trip through the back yard.

As I added children to my home, I remembered aprons and all the things they could do. It came to me for two reasons: my Mother was slimming down the amount of stuff in her home and handed me a pile to go through; and asĀ  I loved to wear skirts I found I was using my skirts for all the functions an apron served – and ruining them! Of course, you might say, that’s what aprons are for! It also meant that I was going against the current fashion of mothers in my neighborhood, hard to do at a young age. Easy for salmon to swim upstream; not so easy for someone who wanted to fit in and didn’t want others to know she grew up on the farm.

We had aprons and I even made some. There were frilly little cocktail aprons made out of starched organdy, clothes pin aprons just to wear to the clothes line and hold the pins, and the ubiquitous barbecue apron. Have you ever tried to dry a little ones tears with any of these? They hurt! I suppose, like buttons on cuffs, we were to use those new paper tissues and not something as unsanitary as an apron corner. Humph! We also knew you had to eat a peck of dirt before you die, and now the farmers market doesn’t even know what a peck is!

Now that I have a passel of Grandchildren, I’m going to make aprons again, as soft and full and useful as I remember. I’m going to get a yard of bright printed calico to hide the stains and have a pocket in it to hide a homemade cookie. I think it is an idea who’s time has come – again!

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