Thursday, December 15, 2011

Pioneers! O Pioneers!

Guess what?! Guess what?! Guess what?! Okay I’ll tell you…I got a new apron yesterday!!! Now don’t roll your eyes at my excitement…because aprons are more than just part of a ’50s housewife ‘uniform’. They are much, much more…

Yes, I had a photoshoot with my new apron.
I'm a sucker for anything with pockets...

These days most people think aprons represent the dependent woman, the one that only slaves away in the kitchen and irons her husband’s shirts and vacuums while wearing pearls for a job. Let me tell you that I am quite the feminist and this is not the case! I love aprons and the stories behind them. Stories of strong courageous pioneer women, who braved the unknown west …and survived!

I read a lot about the lives of pioneer women. And surprisingly, aprons played a huge role in everyday work and made their lives a lot easier! Of course back when the west was wild, and supplies were scarce, material for clothing was very hard to come by. That’s why most aprons back then were made of cotton, white linen or even scraps of feed and flour sacks. (Very much unlike my gaudy apron!!!) Aprons were worn to protect those dresses underneath that were made out of valuable material.

It seems in all the stories I’ve read, aprons are always mentioned. “The baby was wrapped in her apron and placed in a tree. Then she went back across the river to fetch her other children…” Aprons were used to move hot pans, wipe a child’s tear or hide a pistol when unknown visitors arrived. They carried fresh eggs and peas and chips for the wood stove.

I can’t imagine the stories an ‘old-time apron’ would tell if it could talk! Maybe they would be of Indian raids, barn dances, baby deliveries, quilting bees or wagon rides. How glorious they would be to hear!

Pioneer women wore their aprons like royalty wears crowns. It was a part of who they were. These women lived lives full of hardships and heartbreak and sacrificed everything to keep their families together.

When I put on an apron I hope to be even a shred of the kind of woman that wore them before me.

If you are interested in reading about pioneer women, here is a fun site with hordes of  true life stories:  I just read Diana Lucina Spicer Block’s story…absolutely amazing!

And now I will leave you with an excerpt from one of my favorite poems...Pioneers! O Pioneers! by Walt Whitman:

Come my tan-faced children,
Follow well in order, get your weapons ready,
Have you your pistols? have you your sharp-edged axes?
Pioneers! O pioneers!

For we cannot tarry here,
We must march my darlings, we must bear the brunt of danger,
We the youthful sinewy races, all the rest on us depend,
Pioneers! O pioneers!

O you youths, Western youths,
So impatient, full of action, full of manly pride and friendship,
Plain I see you Western youths, see you tramping with the foremost,
Pioneers! O pioneers!

All sketches from:


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