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"Other Colors"
by Orhan Pamuk

by Nathaniel Philbrick

March 4, 2009

Apron Strings

I was making a stir fry last night and decided that I needed some protection from the spattering oil in the wok. I opened the drawer and pulled out an apron that my youngest sister had given me. It was from Japan and has ¾ length sleeves and is high in the front so it really protects you. It seems that younger people don’t wear aprons much anymore – only chefs and French maids. My mother almost always wore an apron and my niece Terri wears one when she is cooking. I don’t usually although I used to. I guess when we wore dresses and had to starch and iron them and didn’t have Spray and Wash, it was more important to protect our clothes.

My mother used to make aprons and I am sure that my sisters did too. I have, on occasion made aprons myself. Mother always had a big pocket in hers and carried clean rags to use as hankies during the ragweed season. This was before the days of Kleenex. Eleanor, the wonderful person in charge of the kitchen at BSF headquarters years ago, used to always wear a starched, white, pinafore-type apron. She was a beautiful woman and looked so perfect in that outfit. Little girls used to wear pinafores. The name comes from the Brits. It was an apron that was pinned in the front of the dress, hence, “pin-afore.”

Nowadays, collecting vintage aprons is a big thing. One web site advertises: “A new generation has discovered the whimsy and charm of vintage aprons. We've sold hundreds of vintage aprons from the 1930s, 1940s, 1950s and 1960s since January 2008! We hand-select all items and only offer vintage aprons in mint or lightly used condition. They will come to you freshly laundered, ironed, softly folded and stored in a plastic bag- ready for the hostess to proudly wear while cooking and baking or to display in her retro kitchen. We have a great respect and love for these old gems and we know you'll enjoy them too!” It is quite shock to discover that you are vintage and possibly retro.

In my apron drawer I have an apron that I embroidered for my father. My folks always had lots of company, not always expected. On the farm, when people would come close to mealtime, my parents would always invite them to stay for the meal, whether it was a relative or a neighbor or the Watkins man. After we moved to town, there were often gatherings of young people – lots of young people – in the back yard. My dad built a barbecue there and he would cooks hamburgers and so forth. If the food was running low, my mother would say, “Do you want some (whatever it was), Mr. Jones?” That was the signal for my dad to say, “No, I’m not very hungry tonight.”

For a Christmas or a birthday, I went to restaurant supply store and bought a plain white chef’s apron with a bib. On the bib I embroidered the words Mr. Jones.

Mom and Dad exemplified Hebrews 13:2 which says, “Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by doing so, some people have entertained angels without knowing it.”

Poppy at Barbecue

Mr. Jones Apron

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