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Chuck Hinman: IJMA. Mom's Aprons

Chuck Hinman: Mom's Aprons. Chuck says his mother's simple aprons served multiple purposes.
Next earlier Chuck Hinman column - My First Car

By Chuck Hinman

Mom's Aprons

Whatever happened to the good old days when real 'momma mommas' wore aprons? I haven't seen an apron clad woman in years. Are aprons like so many other things obsolete?


A clean apron was about the fifth or sixth piece of clothing attire my mom put on every morning. It stayed on until she went to bed in the evening.

Chuck's Mom wore 'work aprons'

Now I know and have seen fancy party aprons but Mom needed and wore 'work aprons.'

I remember seeing Mom doing the weekly mending or making a house dress for her or my sister. Before she folded up the old Franklin treadle sewing machine, she would quickly make a couple of pot holders or an apron. She used the remnants of the material. Or she used a recently emptied flour sack which she had washed and bleached -- it didn't go to waste.

The style of the apron never varied

The apron wasn't fancy. The fancy part was if she had any leftover rickrack, it might create the only decoration on the pot holder or apron.

The style of the apron was always the same and she knew it by heart; it didn't take a pattern. It had a halter that went over her head; it covered her ample body and tied in the back. The flounce in front with a pocket for her hankie, was large enough that she could carry a mess of potatoes from the cave or bring in eggs from the hen house.

Apron served multiple purposes

Obviously the apron served multiple purposes. It protected her dress from splatters of chicken frying for dinner. It was there to wipe her hands every time she had her hands in water.

When she was setting the table for the next meal, if a plate or glass had some residue from a previous meal, she quickly whisked it away with a corner of her apron. When it was time to eat and dinner was being put on the table, like a ritual Mom would go out on the kitchen porch and loudly shout out her trademark 'YOU-WHOOOOO' in a falsetto voice and everyone in the next two counties could have heard her. When she made eye-contact she used the flounce of her apron to summon everyone that 'SOUPS ON' and you better hurry.

When Mom would get 'flustered'

Even though it's been many years since I grew up and left home, I remember so clearly the times when Mom would get so 'flustered' with the heat, yelling at kids, or just too many irons in the fire, that she would just have to stop for a minute to collect herself. She would always say "...now let's see." She would look up at the ceiling as though searching for some sanity. Then she would pull up her apron and wipe her forehead as she fanned herself for a minute... then it was back to work.

When you hear someone sing "Precious Memories" at an old person's funeral, I know what memories they are singing about and I have a few of my own -- such as Mom's aprons.

"Precious memories. How they linger…."

Written by Chuck Hinman. Emailed Tuesday, 18 November 2008.

Note: I wrote back to Chuck that the only person I had seen wearing a work apron in recent years was Tom Chaney of Horse Cave. - Robert Stone



This story was posted on 2014-05-11 07:30:57
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