You never saw Grandma without her apron

Contributed Photo Lorna Marquardt’s grandmother, Martha Robenhagen, wears an apron while hanging up clothes in the 1950s. Marquardt shared lots of “clothesline conversations” with her under those clotheslines.

Like many of you, staying in the house for days because of the blizzard had me a little stir crazy. I decided to spend a little time cleaning, not my favorite thing to do.

When my hubby was in high school, he made a beautiful cedar chest in wood shop. As I dusted off the lovely chest, I realized it had been a very long time since I peeked inside. I knew it contained several old quilts. What I didn’t know was it also contained a few surprises. Tucked inside the quilts were a few boxes. To my delight, in one of the boxes was a handmade blue checkered gingham apron from my husband’s grandma, Anna Raddant. It was a wedding shower gift and the card was still inside the box.

Grandma Raddant passed away shortly after we married, but the apron rekindled many memories, including those of my grandma Martha Robenhagen.

I don’t believe I ever saw my grandma without an apron. Back in the 1950s, aprons were very popular. I remember sitting next to my grandma while she sewed on her treadle sewing machine. She took flour sacks and embellished the aprons she sewed with rick-rack, ribbons and pockets. I loved the hum of her machine as I waited with excited anticipation to see the finished product.

Grandma always wore full aprons, ones that went over her head and covered the front of her dress. They tied in the back. Grandma didn’t have many dresses, but she had lots of aprons. When wash day came, I can remember reaching into her apron pockets to retrieve the clothespins and then handing them to her. I loved the sight of her colorful aprons blowing in the wind. It was quite fascinating to me because my mother didn’t wear aprons, yet Grandma had so many! She had a few special ones she saved for occasions like Christmas and Thanksgiving.

Grandma always planted a big garden. Her apron came in useful during harvest time. She drew her apron up, making a place to put the beans and peas so she could carry them into the house.

I can still smell the biscuits and bread baking in her oven. When they were done baking, Grandma would use her apron as potholders when she lifted the pans out of the oven. Grandma had an old wood stove, and everything that came out of the oven was yummy.

There were a few times I got cuts and bruises while staying at Grandma’s. That apron sure worked well to wipe away my tears. Grandma wasn’t the cuddling type but I can still remember the comfort I felt when her apron touched my face.

I came across this poem titled “Grandmother’s Apron.” It closely captures my memories. Enjoy.

The principal use of grandma’s apron was to protect the dress underneath, but along with that, it served as a potholder for removing hot pans from the oven.

It was wonderful for drying children’s tears and on occasion, was even used for cleaning out dirty ears.

From the chicken coop, the apron was used for carrying eggs, fussy chicks, and sometimes half-hatched eggs to be finished in the warming oven.

When company came, those aprons were ideal for hiding places for shy kids.

And when the weather was cold, grandma wrapped it around her arms.

Those big old aprons wiped many a perspiring brow, bent over the hot wood stove.

Chips and kindling wood were brought into the kitchen in that apron.

From the garden, it carried all sorts of vegetables. After the peas had been shelled, it carried out the hulls.

In the fall, the apron was used to bring in apples that had fallen from the trees.

When unexpected company drove up the road, it was surprising how much furniture that old apron could dust in a matter of seconds.

When dinner was ready, grandma walked out onto the porch, waved her apron, and the men knew it was time to come in from the fields to dinner.

It will be a long time before someone invents something that will replace that old-time apron that served so many worth-while purposes


Grandma used to set her hot baked apple pies on the window sill to cool.

Her granddaughters set theirs on the window sill to thaw.

They would go crazy now trying to figure out how many germs were on that apron

I don’t think I ever caught anything from an apron —

Except love. (author unknown)

Question: Who owned the Shawano Greenhouse in 1973 and where was it located?

Clothesline Conversation Answer: It was owned by Ervin Sederstrom and located at 1270 Green Bay St. in Shawano.

Lorna Marquardt is a former Shawano mayor.