Grandma’s Apron…

This is a piece that is making the rounds on the internet.  I have to repeat it here as it so reminds me of my Oklahoma Grandmas. They were two very different women.  I adored both of them and feel that I am the strong woman that I am because of their pioneer genes.

Mary Hill, my name sake, was married to Sam Hill.  They stemmed from Alabama.  Grandma came on a train to meet up with Sam who had come ahead to get their homestead.  It was located near Hennessey, Oklahoma. A flat part of the country perfect for raising the wheat that they intended to grow.  I went to a family reunion in Alabama one time where my Uncle J.D. Hill, the family historian informed us,  we all qualified to be members of the DAR. {Daughters of the American Revolution.}.  Our people settled this land.  I held my twenty-something head higher.  Never again would I allow anyone to tease me about being an “Okie”. My Grandmother’s family, I was told were prosperous before the Civil War. The part of Alabama she came from had the beautiful Southern Plantations.  Filled with the beautiful Magnolia Trees, rolling green hills and lush vegetation. A stark contrast to the flat looking land where my Grandma came as a bride. I ask her how she felt when she saw Oklahoma for the first time.  She said, she looked out the window of the train and cried at the ugliness.  So many years later in reflecting back on this memory her eyes were moist.  She had a difficult life. She bore 14 children. One a twin died as an infant, the other;  Uncle Jack Hill died in the war at Pearl Harbor. My Mother; Dorothy Christine, and one of her sisters settled in California.  I was four years old.  My earliest memory is a nursery school run by the Ship Yard where my Mother worked as a rivveter . ” How you gonna keep em down on the farm after they have seen —-.”  She never returned to live in Oklahoma. She divorced my farmer Father; Jack Dunlap. Getting custody of my younger sister and me.  My older brother stayed in Oklahoma with my Father.  I spent most of my summers in Oklahoma visiting my Father and relatives. This being Harvest time was a busy time for my relatives.  So, my sister and I were passed from relative to relative.  I often felt I was in the way and was a burden.  My Mother dumped us on them for the entire three months.  I remember getting so homesick.  It was a very long time for a little girl. But, I am so glad I had the experience of Oklahoma and my relatives.  All in all it was very enriching.  My Grandma Hill had so many grandchildren,  I don’t think she was very thrilled with the prospect of having two little girls underfoot at harvest time. But, she was kind.  I remember her taking the time to make me a dress from the coveted fabric of her flour sacks.  It was hot and humid and I remember her at  her old Singer peddle sewing machine.  She made home made bread and home made noodles.  She took no pride in this craft.  It was just another duty to her.  But, she was a good cook. There was a big pond on her farm. Her greatest source of fun was fishing in that pond.  My sister and I were both good swimmers.  Being raised in California we were taught to swim early.  My Oklahoma cousins were not encouraged to swim. It was hot and muggy and my sister and I wanted to swim.  My Grandma for bade  us to swim in the pond.  She said it was full of old mattress springs and all kinds of dangerous stuff and the livestock used it.  It was not safe. I remember coming close to sassing her and saying I was going to go swimming in the pond anyway.  She said to me; “Mary Kay, don’t make me take a switch from this Willow Tree and use it on you.”  I remember looking at the old tree that was within reach of her back porch.  That whole side of the tree near the porch was pick nearly clean.  I was a smart little kid.  I envisioned 13 children needing to be switched.  I very meekly lost my desire to swim in the pond.  My Grandma Hill never spanked me and I in turn never defied her or swam in the pond.

My Grandma; May Dunlap was more prosperous.  She had two children, my Father Jack and my Aunt Opal.  They had a section of land that my Great Grandfather ran for, as an “Oklahoma Sooner”.  My cousin’s family still farms that land.  Which is a source of pride to me. My Grandma always referred to my Grandpa; Frank Dunlap, as” Mr. Dunlap”.  She was an immaculate home maker,  canning produce from her garden,  tending her chickens, making quilts and crocheting doilies and Afghans.  To this day I crochet,  but my work has never been the fine work of my meticulous Grandma. One of my earliest memories of my Grandma was her sitting me on the counter as she cooked.  She was a wonderful cook and took great pleasure in producing beautiful pies and baked goods. She was the Martha Stewart of her time.  My Grandma Dunlap was vain and went to town to the beauty shop for her perms which she would have them leave in pin curls without the pins, so her “Do” would last longer.  I remember her hugging me and feeling the bones in her corset and smelling the perfume and Talc.  She always powdered her face and put rouge on her cheeks.  No lipstick, that might have been considered loose.  She had a great self-image and I think my Grandfather must have thought she was HOT.  Because she took great loving care of him and his clothes.  She made sure; “Mr. Dunlap” always looked dapper and she in turn made the effort to look her best. They always had a new car.  I remember one year they had the latest invention.  An air conditioner that was the shape of a small missle that hung on the passenger window.  It was so welcomed in the hot, humid Oklahoma heat.  In spite of my Grandma’s wonderful care, my Grandpa Dunlap died in his early fifties. My Grandma like to play cards and she liked to dance.  She belonged to two clubs and stayed busy.  She moved off the farm  into town , leaving the farming to her Daughter and my cousin Roy Dean. She  continued a very busy social life for many years.  She died in her mid nineties in a rest home in Enid.  My Aunt Opal made her a promise, she would tuck her in every night.  And she did excepting, the times her granddaughter had her children and she was needed at her side.


Remember making an apron in Home Ec? Whether you do or don’t… Read below: Food for thought! Some History on ‘APRONS’ I don’t think our kids know what an apron is. The principal use of Grandma’s apron was to protect the dress underneath because she only had a few. It was also because it was easier to wash aprons than dresses and aprons used less material. But along with that, it served as a pot holder 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 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 folk 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 purposes. Send this to those who would know (and love) the story about Grandma’s aprons. REMEMBER: 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 – but love…



About marysfarmreport

__From Yachts to Manure___... I have lived in a 9,000 square foot mansion in Piedmont, Ca. to homesteading a mobile home and living without running water or electricity for six months in Oroville, California. These are some tales of my adventures. From traveling the world with my Airline Executive late husband to , operating a Yacht Charter Business on San Francisco Bay as a widow with young children, to retiring to a Ranch in Oroville and raising horses and fancy pure bred dogs. Come join me on my adventures as I write this blog..
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25 Responses to Grandma’s Apron…

  1. Leeanna (Speight) Ryel says:

    I do remember parts of that house that Grandpa Jack lived in. I remember there being a secret door in one of the hallways (of course this was my imagination), and there was another living room full of wonderful things that people used in the olden days before electricity. I think I was only there at Grandpa Jack’s once or twice, but I remember the walls, carpets and furniture in oranges and reds…fall colors!

    • Dear Leanna,

      It is important for you to remember that your Mom’s people were Oklahoma Sooners. They were the early settlers of Oklahoma.
      You come from a rich history.

      Love, Aunt Mary

  2. mistic420 says:

    I remember being whipped with a willow tree branch.
    I really like the one about aprons. My grandma in her apron is a fond memory. Thanks for this post, I remember a past that I hadn’t thought about in years.

    • My Grandmas are forever locked in my heart. One of my special treasures. Because of their example I am a good Grandma.
      Now my Daughter is enjoying the role of Grandma. Very special years. You have that to look forward to when your children are grown and out on their own. I witnessed how you interact with your lovely children. You will be a great Grandma.

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    • You may like to read “Sisters and Cancer” it is the story of my sister Linda Dunlap who succumbed to breast cancer after a 14 year battle. Let me know what you think of it.

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