Traverse City Record-Eagle

Northern Living

July 13, 2014

Ed Hungness: Apron strings and those ties that bind

I was enjoying a sandwich at a favorite lunchtime eatery in Traverse City. There was an elderly couple sitting at the table behind me and they were talking about a male member of their family, perhaps a grandson.

After some discussion, the gentleman blurted out, “It is time for his parents to cut the apron strings!” I wondered if the young man in question would even know what an apron was. This got me to thinking about aprons.

I can remember both my Grandmother and my Mom wearing aprons in the kitchen. Often they wore them throughout the day while doing housework. They didn’t have one apron; they had drawers full of them. They were made of cotton, often printed in a floral pattern. Sometimes they featured decorative appliqués, cut from other materials in various shapes and sewn into place.

Seldom purchased by the wearer, aprons were often given as a gift from a female friend or relative. Aprons were popular home economics class sewing projects. It was one item that taught basic sewing skills without requiring precise measurements. They were sort of a one-size-fits-all item, perfect for almost anyone.

We rarely see aprons anymore unless we visit a trendy restaurant or butcher shop. Grandma wore an apron to protect her dress underneath. Before automatic washers and dryers, it was much easier to wash out a soiled apron than a dress. In addition to protecting one’s Sunday best, an apron was like a Swiss Army Knife or a Leatherman multi-tool, it served many functions.

Do you remember the ‘60s television show, Mayberry R.F.D.? Sheriff Andy and his son Opie lived with Aunt Bee who seldom got out of the kitchen and spent most of her time wearing an apron. When she went out to pick fresh vegetables from the garden, she carried them to the kitchen using her apron as a basket.

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