I think the reason my Grandma, an early Idaho pioneer homesteader, wore the long cotton apron with big pockets and ties around the neck and waist was to protect one of the two dresses she owned. She probably thought she would just put it on to do chores and then her dress and demeanor would be fresh for visitors. Only problem is Grandma’s chores were never done. She was first one up and last one down every day. She worked hard and so did her various aprons in small patterned print, brightened by ric rac or primary colored bias tape around the edges.
There were many uses for the apron besides protecting the dress underneath:
- Pot holder to get hot pans of cookies or chicken from the oven
- Tear dryer for children who had hit by a tree branch or brother
- Face wiper, after a bit of spit on the finger had washed the dirt off
- Hiding place for little kids
- Carrying eggs to the house, baby chickens back to the coop
- Carrying kindling, logs and twigs to the house for the wood stove
- Carrying garden seed in the pockets, produce in the upturned material and strips of ancient ones were used to tie tomato plants up to stakes in the garden.
- After the peas had been shelled or the corn shucked for dinner, the remains were gathered in the apron and carried out to the “pile” She didn’t know the word compost then. But she did it.
- In the fall, the apron held apples, peaches, apricots and cherries into the house to be “preserved” for the winter enjoyment.
- The apron corner was used to tighten every jar of fruit and jam. It gave just the right leverage to the hand.
- It provided warmth on chilly night by wrapping the edges upward over Grandma’s arms or downward over a small child.
Ahh, But The Pockets held the treasures
- Clothes pins to hold the wash on the clothes line.
- A tiny tin of aspirin in case the arthritis acted up.
- Safety pins
- A hankie to wipe the eyes or blow the nose
- Peppermint candies
- Unusual small rocks with lines in them, good for a teaching moment on how the earth was formed.
- Small feathers, buttons, driftwood to be used someday for an art project.
- Anything that her grandchildren had brought to show her and she vowed to keep forever.
Nothing Lasts Forever Not sweet, warm, loving Grandma who died of cancer, while everyone else was instructed not to talk about it. We were to “play like” Grandma would get better soon.
Not Grandma’s aprons which were divided among her daughters after her death and ultimately ended up in the rag bag.
Not the little things that she treasured and was going to make art projects with. Not the candies, clothes pins or rocks.
Not the fruit, jam, jellies. They were all consumed that year.
Except For Memories and Stories
Only the memories of Grandma in her pretty apron with her busy hands but open arms remain. Only the stories that we tell of her strength, wisdom and sweet spirit remain to remind us of who we came from. Only the stories and memories remind us of the time in our childhood when all problems could seemingly be solved with a yard of cotton and a beautiful woman. How blessed we were to have a grandma who wore an apron and taught us about life.
(c) Judy H. Wright http://www.ArtichokePress.com
If you would like to learn more about Grandma Sarah Elizabeth Turman please look for the book “The MC’s Life Stories of Early Idaho Pioneers Manford Cleveland and Sarah Elizabeth Turman and Their Families.” It is available on Amazon and the ISBN is 9781590957806 or ordered directly from Artichoke Press 406-549-9813
You are also invited to visit our blog at AskAuntieArtichoke.com for answers and suggestions which will enhance your relationships. You will also find a full listing of free tele-classes and radio shows held each Thursday just for you.