My Grandmother’s Aprons

In the 1950s, when my sister and I were in elementary school, my grandmother took us downtown to Kresge’s to pick out a mother’s day present for our mother. My grandfather must have driven us, because my grandmother didn’t drive. She suggested an apron. We picked out a beautiful red one with black binding trim around the edges and a picture of an old fashioned cast iron stove on the front pocket. I still remember going down the dark wood stairs to the basement and picking out that apron.  As we grew older we realized that my mother hated receiving gifts that had anything to do with housework. (Click this link to see a photograph of the store Kresge on Woodward Ave. in Detroit, 1950s.)

My grandmother often had an apron on when we were over because she would be cooking or washing dishes.  She kept them on even when posing for group photographs in the yard with out of town visitors.

"theodore backyard roscoe and stella"
Roscoe McCall (Fannie’s first cousin), Fannie Turner Graham (my grandmother), Stella McCall (Roscoe’s wife), Abbie Allen Brown (my 2X great aunt), in my grandparent’s backyard. Detroit, MI summer of 1960.  Roscoe and Stella were visiting from Chicago.
"theodore backyard bobbie visits"
Aunt Abbie, Aunt Alice, Nanny, Daisy, two friends, cousin John Allen’s wife, Bobbie. Bobbie was visiting from Chicago.
“The Women’s Missionary Union: The trip to Frankenmuth, Michigan is on June 24, Saturday cost $10, also, the apron sale is today May 7, come down and buy your favorite mother or mother-in-law a beautiful apron.”
Mershell and Fannie Graham, my grandparents are mentioned as shut-ins.
Mershell and Fannie Graham, my grandparents are mentioned as shut-ins.
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17 thoughts on “My Grandmother’s Aprons

  1. Finally someone who actually had family photos with aprons!!
    Love your story about buying your mother an apron, mine hated gifts like that as well.

    I wouldn’t mind an apron these days, there are such pretty ones out there.

  2. The group of seven ladies is a wonderful photo, and Roscoe must have been good fun to put on an apron too. Perhaps it was a gift? My grandmother made thousands of aprons for her church bazaar. Once my dad commissioned her to make one for him to use in his workshop. It had deep front pockets and a smaller pencil pocket. It was so successful she added it to her bazaar output and sold nearly as many for men as women.

    1. Those work aprons are handy for all sorts of work. I would guess Roscoe was helping with the dishes and borrowed one of my grandmother’s aprons. There are a few other photos taken the same day where he had taken the apron off. Or not put it on!

  3. The women in my family wore aprons and like your grandmother they kept the aprons on when company was present when they were busy in the kitchen.

  4. Great character photos. I bet your grandparents loved having visitors, especially when they were shut-ins!

  5. Good for Roscoe, not afraid to pose with his pinny. Please pardon my ignorance but I’m guessing as far as ‘shut-in’ – someone who is housebound?

  6. Your description of the trip to the Department Store took me back fifty or so years. Different stores, different towns, different countries – but so much of the experience must have been the same.

  7. Wonderful photo of family in aprons…and the story of purchasing the mother’s day apron too! Great memories. Then I remembered that all the laundry had to be ironed (and starched sometimes) so it was good to keep those “Sunday clothes” from being soiled by wearing an apron.

  8. I like that photo with the seven ladies; wonder if my mother would have loved or hated receiving an apron as a gift. She was always sewing.

  9. I remember school stalls at mother’s day when they sold aprons, handkerchiefs and soap – I’m sure our mum’s didn’t really want any of them but always seemed to be happy.
    Your Nanna looks so sweet.

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