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Pamela Loxley Drake recalls the versatility and comfort of the many aprons of her childhood.

COURTESY PHOTO - Pamela Loxley DrakeMother, aunts and grandmothers — all wore aprons.

Mom Johnson's aprons hung by the backdoor (along with bonnets) where the women could grab one and set to the task of cooking and cleaning. Aunt Welma, Mom (Johnson) and Mom moved to an invisible, choreographed dance, cooking, preparing the table and never once running into one another.

Their aprons moved hot dishes from one place to another. They held a hankie for a kid's nose. They kept the dishwasher a little drier.

And best of all, they came in all sorts of colors and designs handmade by the cook.

To protect the few dresses that the women owned, aprons were worn.. The few clothes we possessed were washed when needed. So, women wore aprons, and men wore overalls.

Clothes were worn for days on end, so the apron certainly added a protective shield. As my sister once told me, "We probably didn't smell very good back then, but no one did."

Aprons were used as hot pad holders. They could carry produce from the garden to the kitchen. It was a great rag to wave when chasing an escapee cow back to the barnyard. A few eggs could be carried in an apron as well as a few precious morels. Tears could be erased, hands dried and a damp brow wiped.

Yes, I shall forever be tied to my mother's apron strings.

Aprons were not just for cooks. Butchers wore them. Bakers wore them. Sometimes they were worn in workshops and stables. Aprons were bought by "to be" brides for their wedding servers. I know, because I had a few of those sheer ninon accessories.

Housekeepers wore aprons and probably dusted with them at times. Cobblers wear aprons.

There are half aprons, full aprons, cross-back aprons (never could figure these out), pinafores, slip-on aprons.

An apron was the first thing I sewed. It was a black-and-white half apron with pockets across the front.

I'm not sure this is of interest to you. It really isn't interesting to me, since I hated to cook then and now, so no apron was required. In fact, I hated sewing through all my years in 4-H and home economics. But I stray here. Sorry.

In some way, it was comforting to see Mom in an apron. Maybe it meant that food was being prepared or maybe we were off to pick something from the garden. Regardless of the reason, it was a sign that Mom was home. Maybe that is truly what an apron means: protection, productivity, care and cleanliness, food.

Still can't get my head through a cross-back apron.

Pamela Loxley Drake is a Beaverton resident and self-described lifelong "farm girl." You can contact her at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


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