Wednesday, April 22, 2009
the history of aprons
Every year, a different clothing item is displayed at the Grand Island Historical Society's Victorian Tea Party. Last year, the item selected were hats. and everyone attending the tea party was asked to complete their fashion statement with a hat. This year, people were invited to lend aprons to the show. A number of these aprons were put outside on a laundry line, where they fluttered in the wind. I'm not sure how the items in the laundry basket stayed together and didn't fly away.
After the tea party inside River Lea, Maggie Gushue narrated the fashion show. It featured all sorts of aprons, from the simplest to the fanciest. The simplest aprons were feed bags with a string attached so that they could be tied around someone's waist. That was probably a good thing to have for an apron, especially for people who lived on farms, where they were cooking large quantities of food, washing clothes by hand, and doing other things that had great mess potential. It was important for them to keep their clothes clean. First of all, they didn't have very many articles of clothing. Second of all, since doing laundry was such difficult work, they didn't do it very often. So they had simple aprons to protect their clothing.
Another very simple apron design would not have done much of anything, not even protected clothing. It was nothing but a piece of gauze!
Other aprons were more intricate. Some of them were embroidered or crocheted. Some of the aprons had holiday themes. These were very fashionable aprons but they were too lovely to risk getting covered with grease or bits of food. They were truly photo op aprons.
Apparently, at some point in the mid to late 20th century, aprons sort of went out of favor. Of course, you don't really need to wear an apron to warm stuff up in a microwave oven!
I'm sure, though, that plenty of people still wear aprons when they are cooking or washing the dishes. I know that, if I don't wear an apron when I wash dishes, that I risk taking a bath!!!
Maggie also displayed some of her mother's aprons and some aprons made for small children who liked "helping" their moms in the kitchen.