Grandma's Apron

I can still see Grandma Laura putting on her apron.  She lived just down the lane
from us when I was a little girl and that apron was a big part of her life.
The one she wore the most was green and it went on over her head and
she tied the strings into a bow in the back.  Grandma had made the apron
herself, along with a bonnet to match.  She had other aprons but I remember
the green one because she called it her "everyday" apron.  Her apron seemed to
be an all-purpose garment.  Obviously, it kept her dress from becoming soiled
as she went about her daily chores, but to a little girl it seemed to hold
many treasures.  Whatever I needed seemed to somehow be linked with
Grandma's apron.  Straight pins and safety pins were often found
pinned below her shoulder.  There were big roomy pockets in Grandma's apron
and she would pull such items as scissors, tacks, clothespins, hairpins,
or a hanky from them.  Sometimes she would stop in the garden and pick a few
vegetables or a bouquet of flowers to sit on her table and they would be carried
in her apron.  If she had a lot to take, she simply picked up her apron by the sides,
folding it together so it would hold more.  I would often see her with her apron
pulled together in that fashion as she gathered the eggs and
carried them carefully to the house.

In Grandma's generation, it wasn't "cool" to have a suntan.
It was important for women to protect themselves from the sun.
Grandma told me it wasn't good for your skin to become sunburned or tanned.
No matter how hot it was, if she was working outside, Grandma would don
her bonnet that extended far out from her face and tied under her chin,
and she would wear long sleeves and gloves.

In the springtime, she would wear this same attire to go out and pick
what she called "greens".  This was a mixture of mostly wild mustard,
with a few sprigs of dandelion, horseradish, lamb's quarter,
and who knows what else.  She had the mixture down to a science and
could make it taste differently by the amount and blend of
her concoction of greens.  Grandma always knew the best places to
find the greens that she wanted. She took a pail but often had extra
so she would gather up that apron and carry even more.  She would bring
her greens home and it was my job to help her wash them and then
they would be cooked with a little water and bacon drippings.
We all thought they were delicious.

In the summer, that same old green apron would make the trek
into the fields to find the best blackberry patches.
Grandma made me a bonnet just like hers and I would go with her to
pick the berries.  I remember picking them and eating probably more than
I put into the pail but Grandma still had plenty to make blackberry pies.
I also recall those terrible chigger bites that I usually came home with and
I would be made to take a bath in the washtub with a tiny bit of
borax sprinkled in the water to "kill the chiggers", Mama said.

Grandma was getting up in years when I was just a little girl.
My mother was a school teacher and she became concerned that maybe
I was too much for Grandma to handle alone while she was at school
so she left me with a neighbor one day, thinking it would be easier
on Grandma.  Something upset me at the neighbor's house that day and
I began to cry.  I knew that Grandma's house was just across the field
and I could see her out in her yard in the distance so I did something
I had never done before...I ran away.  I ran as hard as I could
straight to Grandma's house.  As I ran up into her yard,
there stood Grandma in that wonderful old green apron
and I ran straight into her arms.  As I buried my face in her apron,
she wiped my tears with the edge of it.  After that day,
Mama never left me with anyone else but Grandma
and I think we were both very happy about that.

By Pamela Blaine
(c) September 2002