Grandma's Apron Was an All-Purpose Tool During the Depression Era

Kansan woman recalls her grandma using her apron as an all-purpose pot-lifter, apple carrier, chick rescuer, signal, and shawl during the depression era

| Good Old Days

  • If only this grandmother's apron could talk!
    Courtesy Library of Congress

Grandma's aprons were not dainty things of beauty. They were truly "all purpose," and during the depression era, they were made of dark colored calicos - mostly of dark blues, browns and dark grays (so the dirt wouldn't show!). Since her dresses were ankle length - so were the aprons. They were made of a straight piece of cloth gathered full onto a band that either buttoned or tied around the waist. Sometimes a square piece was stretched above the waist band to protect Grandma's dress up to the bust. The piece was usually pinned to the dress with safety pins.

There was always a pocket or two to hold her handkerchief, a bit of pencil, hairpins - anything small that couldn't be carried in the voluminous apron itself.

When Grandma went to the orchard she could pick up and carry - in her apron, of course - nearly a bushel of apples, peaches or pears. With a quick flip of that apron she could "shoo" the old hens out of the flower bed or the vegetable garden.

Should a rainstorm come up quickly, Grandma could dash out and gather up a whole nest of baby chickens in that apron and get them to safety without any getting wet.

She carried lots of wood chips, corn cobs and kindling in that apron - to start fires in the old iron cookstove. Vegetables (peas, green beans, carrots, even potatoes) all found their way into Grandma's kitchen - via her apron.

While these foods were cooking, that apron could become her "pot lifter" for removing hot kettles and pans from the stove, and as she toiled over the hot stove she mopped the sweat from her face with the tail of her apron.

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