Tuesday, February 14, 2012

My Apron Valentine

Flowers from my sweetheart, Peter.

It's Valentines Day!  Chocolate, flowers and love along with sweet memories that come from pleasant surprises are all in the air today.  This morning, I was hunting through my linen closet for white embroidered pillow cases, of all things, and found instead, on the very bottom shelf, one of those unexpected, sweet memories...handmade aprons from "Grandma D"!  No, she wasn't actually my grandmother.  Rather, she was my cousin Bob's (as opposed to my brother, Bob) grandmother and we called her "Grandma D".

Looking back, I remember seeing "Grandma D" only at family holiday gatherings but always wearing one of her signature handmade aprons. I remember her as a tiny, quiet woman with grey/white curly hair, kept neatly in a hair net, who wore black cat-eye glasses and sensible black shoes.  She was always in a dress or skirt and she always, always had a crisp, freshly made and lovely apron on.  And, at least in my memory, I'm pretty sure, she never wore the same apron twice. (Note to self:  I must remember to ask my Aunt Jo about this sometime.) While I was growing up, not only did she wear her own creations, she also made them for my aunts and mother and gave them to them for birthdays and Christmas's, which brings me to why I currently have four of them.

My sister, Chris, and I divided up these aprons, so many years ago, while going through our mother's things after she died.  We fondly recalled "Grandma D", who had passed away, along with her seemingly tireless and artful apron handiwork, many years before our mother and most of our aunts. My mother was the proud owner of six of these although Chris doesn't remember that many--Keep looking Chris  I know you have a purple one as well as a green one somewhere! And, as sure as I am sitting here writing this, for the life of me, I cannot remember "Grandma D" making aprons in any fabric other than a gingham check, but in a rainbow of colors, all intricately embellished with ric-rac and cross-stitched patterns on the pockets and along their hems.

Chris, who is currently downsizing her home and moving to a new one, recently sent me two more aprons not made by "Grandma D" but just as special because they were our mother's, like this delicate chiffon apron she says our father gave to our mother for Valentines Day, long ago. I rarely recall my mother, a tomboy herself while growing up and a lover of sports like baseball and especially swimming, wearing an apron, even as I grew older. However, apparently she did. Of course this would have been before the age of feminism and during the age of June Cleaver, the Beaver's mom (as in Leave it to Beaver, not the Justin Bieber type) was still gracing our television sets each week wearing her own freshly starched apron that adorned her "petti-coated" dress, a fashion statement of the day, to be sure.

Apron by Grace features it's own reversible and attached hand towel that flipped and buttoned to either the left or right sides, depending on the wearer's preference.
Pretty pocket.
Chris also sent this little vintage treasure. I think it was made by a woman named Grace who owned a quilt shop in Merrimac, Wisconsin that my mother, sister and I would often visit when I was very young. It was such a special place, almost magical to a little girl, filled with lovingly made quilts, neatly folded by color and pattern, with handmade dolls and stuffed animals propped up among the quilts and for sale as well. There were sewing notions, sewing baskets and candy stacked and organized on shelves behind a long, polished counter top filled with other handmade do-dads and brick-a-bract. It was such a wonderful, imaginative and colorful place to go browse and enjoy Grace's wonderful sewing creativity.

Preparing Thanksgiving Dinner in 1987 and paying homage to "Grandma D" with long time friends, Judy, Cathy and me, in my kitchen...boy, were we young or what??
So, as I hold these beautiful aprons close to my heart and straight out of my past, I am filled with sweet memories of my early childhood and recall so many gentle women from my family as well as friends that I loved and still love, wearing a "Grandma D" original, an icon of their time and of our family, on dates such as  Thanksgiving, Christmas and yes, Valentines Day,   What a lovely time and a perfect day to reminisce about love in all of it's forms.

As the song goes,"There are faces (and things) I remember...in my life, I loved them so."  Happy Valentines Day and may you also have sweet, vintage valentine memories to linger over today.

1 comment:

  1. What a sweet post, Cyndie! My grandmother had and wore this style of apron, too (and I saw my mother wear one when I was quite young... I think I had a tiny one myself) but I find I need to wear aprons that cover me on the top AND bottom... which probably means you make less mess than I do. ;)