Mother’s Apron

Aprons enjoy a long and illustrious history, as a protective garment, as a fashion accessory and to indicate status. The word ‘apron’ comes from the French word ‘naperon’ meaning little tablecloth.

Soldiers of the French Foreign Legion wore leather aprons as part of their ceremonial dress and Egyptian pharaohs wore jeweled-encrusted aprons.

Distinctive aprons could also indicate a man’s trade. English barbers wore checkered aprons. Stonemasons wore white aprons to protect their clothing from the white dust created by their tools on the stone. Cobblers wore black to protect garments from the black wax used on shoes. Butchers wore blue stripes. Butlers wore green aprons. Blue was commonly worn by weavers, spinners and gardeners.

Native Americans wore aprons for practical and ceremonial reasons. The early American colonists often wore aprons. People of that era owned few garments and had to protect and keep them as clean as possible.

Aprons became very popular in the 20th Century as the icon of the perfect housewife. It signified a cozy kitchen and enough food for everyone. Aprons were often the first garment made by someone learning to sew. They could be simple and tough or delicate and attractive fashion accessories.

Homemade aprons were a popular use of fabric remnants and made welcome gifts or sale items at church bazaars. Aprons can be made of cotton, muslin, linen, canvas, leather, rubber or lead. The apron has long been a symbol of generosity and hospitality.

My mother wore an apron every day of her life. It served, of course, to protect her clothing from spills and dirt. She cooked, cleaned house and did laundry in that apron.

As I look back now, I see that her apron had many other functions as well. It was a washcloth to clean a dirty child’s face and a towel to dry wet hands. It was a potholder to remove a hot pan from the stove or oven and it wiped many a sweaty brow on a hot summer day.

Mother’s apron could be used as a fan to cool you down or wrap around your arms to warm you up. It could be used to clean a surface when needed in a hurry or dry a plate for an extra setting.. It was an all around tool that could be used wet or dry, for everyday or holiday. It was always there, always available, always the right choice.

Some of mother’s aprons were plain and worn to the bone, some were fancy with ruffles and lace, some were homemade, some were gifts. All of them were used for the proper occasion or event. Several of the aprons were even holiday specific. She employed and enjoyed them all.

When I got married, mother saw to it that I got several aprons as shower gifts. She saw it as her duty to get me started off right in the “domestic household” department.

Today I wear an apron when I cook. It just seems the right thing to do. Every time I put on my apron, I think of mother and her apron.

And I smile.

Advice From Mother

My Mother always had good advice for me and for others. She would gladly provide advice to anyone who asked for it or pretty much anyone she thought needed it.

She began early in my life with safety recommendations and some common sense things that would work for the rest of my life. Easy things like “One banana is good for you, two bananas are not” or “Never waste food” or “Look both ways before crossing the street”.

Later she got to more important issues involving sex, personal safety, drinking, things like that. She always told me to keep my clothes on and buttoned closed. I was to always keep a quarter in my shoe to call home if I ever needed help.

I was never to go out with any boy who never came to the door to get me for a date. I was not to respond to a honk from a car at the curb. The boy must come in and talk with my parents. In fact, if it was a first date, the boy was required to drive my mother around the block in his car to show he could drive well before he could take me out. And they all did it!

My mother said never trust a boy that did not bring you home on time and did not take you where he said he was going to take you. But point of fact – Gramps brought me home (back to the dorm) four minutes late on our first date in college. That was significant back then. I had to come in four hours earlier the next night as punishment. And look where we are now!

Mom was the greatest decorator and was not afraid to use color or paint anywhere. She said you could have five colors and three patterns in a room. And believe me we did! And it all looked great!

I remember she loved pink, so it was very predominant in our house. Daddy never said a word. Of course, he was color blind.

We had the only pink refrigerator I’ve ever seen. And the cabinets were pink, blue and green, all around the kitchen. You certainly couldn’t nap in her kitchen.

Yes, Mom was fearless with color. She would say, “It’s only paint!”

And she sewed everything we used practically. From clothes to table linens to curtains to slipcovers to pillows. She make almost everything I wore. One year, for some reason, there were numerous school parties and I got a new outfit for each one. When I commented that this seemed too much, she said, “If you have fun in it one time, it’s worth the effort.” How sweet was that to say to a sixth grader!

And that held true for babies also. One good day in an outfit was worth the making of it.

She had good advice for a newly married daughter. Never stop talking to each other, she said to me. And I have found that helpful for fifty-one years.

Mom had lots of good words for us and would often refer to the old standards. But somehow she would get one or two words wrong and yet still get the meaning across. Such as, “A stitch in time saves ten”. It was hilarious and she never knew why we were all laughing.

Mom was a caution and her words of wisdom, correct or a bit revised, helped raise me. They even saved me several times.

I imagine she is still organizing and advising in her corner of Heaven.

Thanks Mom.