June 3, 2011

In and Out of the Quad Cities

Contributed by Gail McPike and Toni Hall

Join us as we take a little trip. Nope, not a travelogue, it’s a special kind of trip – a trip back in time. Close your eyes – well not really, we want you to keep reading. We are inviting you to join us on a trip in human dimensions – a trip through the deepest recesses of our memories. As you read, allow the 90s, 80s, and even the 1970s to kaleidoscope by. But we’re not there yet. Allow your high school years to quickly swirl past your mind’s eye. Suddenly you find yourself standing before a restless group of 8 year olds. Off to the left, your kindly teacher smiles from her desk. As the warm light of fall drifts through opened windows – you discover yourself dressed in your favorite grade school outfit. The newly purchased set of Ked’s on your feet display the grass stains of a single recess. We have arrived – you’re back in 3rd grade.

You look down and see diminutive fingers clutching a single sheet of yellow-lined paper. There’s a few lines of neatly printed writing before you. The first line bears the heading: What I did on my vacation. Show and tell is about to begin – and you through some twisted fate find yourself going first.

Experts say – the average person fears public speaking more than they fear gall bladder eruption. Yet there you are about to provide a detailed report of three full months of summer to an unruly mob of preadolescent creeps. Well, maybe just a few of them actually earned the creep status – but you know what we mean. We will return to this story of elementary school in a moment, but allow us to do a bit of “Show and Tell” for you. Our show and tell word for the day is Apron – read on dear friends, read on.

It’s Monday May 16, and we are attending the Salad Luncheon and Apron Show at the Quad-Cities own Center for Active Seniors (CASI). For those of you who aren’t familiar with CASI, here’s the scoop. CASI is a large ultramodern facility located on Kimberly Road in Davenport. They are dedicated to serving seniors with daily activities, classes, a fitness center and lots of other neat things. And, they play host to dozens of cool events – this being one of them. But we are talking about APRONS.

The show opened our eyes to the world aprons. As a matter of fact, we now consider ourselves to be in the upper reaches of apron expertise. If there was an Apron Mensa – we would be members. Read on and you, too, will qualify for a nice plaque to hang above your mantle.

We have memories of our grandmother wearing an apron. Our moms wore one while buzzing around putting together the fancy fixings for Thanksgiving. We have a couple stashed away in the bottom drawer ourselves. When you think of aprons you think of waitresses, chefs, and maybe even Current Trophy Hubby Frank’s fantasy of the upstairs maid clad in a frilly French apron. But aprons go far beyond that.

First, aprons have been around for a very long time. Think back a thousand or so years. And the first folks to throw these things on weren’t grannies – no sir, it was the grandpas of the species.

Tradesmen started wearing aprons as a sign of hygiene. Butchers, bakers, barbers and surgeons first wore their aprons to demonstrate their concern with cleanliness. If you think back to those medieval days, fresh clothes were a bit of a luxury. A dirt spot or stain basically was there for the duration of the summer (and maybe into the fall). By the 16 and 17th century, various tradespeople were noted by the color of their apron. And as you might expect, somewhere along the way – the women folk decided they could move the idea a couple of steps forward.

By our grandma’s time – crocheted aprons and aprons with extra frills came into fashion. And folklore played a part in the apron story. For instance, if a young lady’s apron came loose it was purported to be an omen that her beau was thinking of her.

It seems the heyday of the apron came sometime just prior to the opening of the first Wal-Mart. A person need only watch a couple of “Donna Reed Show” reruns to note the change in wardrobe for the typical American housewife. On a personal note, we loved her pearls, but she should have selected some capris and one of her husband’s old shirts for household chores. We find it’s a lot easier to skip the apron and wear something a bit more sensible. But, what can we say?

And now back to our subject of show and tell. It’s summer in the good old Quad-Cities. Those little events you schedule with your nieces, nephews and grandkids are all fodder for future show and tell memories. It’s the little stuff that matters – give them something to report. And have a great June.