Gail’s Memory of Her Mother’s Apron

For Mother’s Day 2017, I’ll share with you one of Gail Lee Martin’s most popular stories. It’s a nostalgic piece about her mother’s apron. It was also recorded and you can hear the story in her own voice on the Our Echo site: Mother’s Apron.

“Mother’s aprons
I grew up in the oilfields of Greenwood County Kansas in the dusty thirties but I remember Mother’s apron always kept her neat and clean. She made aprons to cover the whole front of her dress and tied with a bow in the back. Her aprons had two large patch pockets on the skirt and Mother used them in so many ways.

On washdays, she carried clothespins out to the line in her pockets instead of juggling a separate clothespin bag. She also picked her pockets full of peas or other produce for lunch as she left the garden after her daily hoeing. With aprons protecting her clothes, she could wear the same dress for several days. A real plus when you had to haul all your water during the dust-bowl days.

Two or three safety pins adorned the bib of her apron and even a threaded needle so she was always ready for a quick repair of our clothes or on the spot splinter removal. I recall her using a corner of her apron to wipe her sweaty brow and my childhood tears.

While cooking, a corner of her apron became an instant potholder. Each evening she would shoo the chickens into their pen for the night by flapping her apron skirt. My fondest memory is Mother coming in with her apron full of chilled and mewing kittens followed by an anxious mother cat. She warmed them by the kitchen fire and saved their lives.

In the 1930s chicken feed & flour companies began using an attractive print material for sacks to hold their product. Mother was in seventh heaven with this new source of material. She made dresses, skirts and blouses, and more everyday and fancy aprons.

When company came to visit Mother would whisk off her apron. As she greeted her guests, they saw no trace of her work-filled days. Her dress was spotless.”


Clarence and Ruth McGhee – This is the only photo I could find of Ruth wearing her apron. In all other photos, she’s removed it.


2 thoughts on “Gail’s Memory of Her Mother’s Apron

  1. I think these blog posts are a personal version of American History- the details that make it real, but can’t be found in text books.


  2. I still wear aprons for cooking like my mother did and whisk them off when company appears. The rule in our house was to never sit down for any meal wearing an apron. The other tradition was using a serviette (napkin) at every meal and reusing them if they were clean, putting them in a personal serviette ring. I always did this until recently but must admit to being a bit slack lately.

    The uses for an apron were certainly varied. They make me think of pinafores girls used to wear to protect their dresses. I wonder when that stopped? We didn’t wear them when I was a child in the ’50s.


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