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Saturday, February 25, 2017

The Great Cover-up of my Childhood





Carolyn J. Rose

Adults, especially those of the grandparent variety, did a lot of covering up when I was a kid.

And I’m not talking about the way they tap-danced around those birds-and-bees topics.
I’m talking about doilies, antimacassars, tablecloths, placemats, and aprons
Except for brief moments after a meal while the old cloth was being exchanged for a fresh one, I never saw a bare table at my grandmother’s house. Except for when cleaning and freshening was going on, I never saw a chair arm in her living room without a circle of lace upon it. 

And except for when she was headed for church or a party, I never saw her without an apron.

She had a lot of aprons. Maybe a dozen. Maybe more. Some she made for herself. Others were gifts. Some tied around the waist. Others were of the pinafore variety, often with gathers and ruffles. Some were everyday aprons with simple patterns. Others were for holidays and special dinners. They had fancy braid or bows or rickrack. They went on when the messy part of cooking was complete and serving dishes were ferried to the table.

When, at four years of age—after washing my hands with a bar of brown soap the size of a paperback novel—I was trusted with the task of creaming butter and sugar with a wooden spoon, I did it standing on a chair and swaddled in an apron wrapped twice around my chest.

For years I thought aprons were more critical to the meal-preparation process than pots, pans, utensils, ingredients, a stove, or a refrigerator.

Then I graduated from college and struck out on my own. I had a car, a dog, a collection of T-shirts and blue jeans, a battered record player, a few dozen albums, and not a single apron. I didn’t have a single recipe, either. But somehow, through a process of trial and error—sometimes major error—I cobbled together meals.

As for those aprons my grandmother passed along, well, I hung onto to them for years. Not for culinary reasons, but for sentimental ones.


10 comments:

  1. My mother never wore aprons, and I don't, either. Probably should, though, looking at some of the stains on my clothes. Nice post. Thanks.

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    1. Treat the stains like a wearable scrapbook so you can remember the great meals of the past.

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  2. I still have a few aprons. I got some from an elderly neighbor when I lived in the Bronx, and some I actually bought myself as souvenirs from my travels. Of course, I don't wear them, except if I were using flour, but since I almost never bake, they stay in the drawer. I take them out occasionally, just to reminisce.

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    1. Sandy - remember when we made aprons in Home Ec ? I found mine after Dad died. Sloppiest sewing on record. I hesitated only a moment before I tossed it.

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  3. Aprons? I thought you're famous for not cooking. Just saying...
    Remember plastic slip covers on sofa's and upholstered chairs? My first act of defiance as an adult was to sit on the fabric that came with the sofa in my apartment. It felt weird.

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    1. I remember sitting on my in-laws plastic-covered sofa in Iowa on a 100-degree summer day. No air condition. A lake of sweat formed beneath me.

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  5. Hi Carolyn,

    My Nan could have been the subject of your post, as just about everything you mentioned was on proud display in her house.

    She used to crochet many of the chairbacks etc. herself and the workmanship was amazing.

    One of the small handful of items I have kept from my childhood, was a child sized apron, which my grandfather gave me as a gift, shortly before his death when I was 5. I can't bear to part with it, even though I wouldn't be seen in an apron these days!

    Yvonne :)

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    1. I have a couple of baby dresses with lace and tatting that I can't part with. I've thought about framing them. Maybe someday . . .

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    2. I beleave this would be your Grandmother M not F. Correct?

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