Monday, 18 July 2011

Tablecloths and Aprons

  I have a small collection of  vintage aprons and tablecloths. I would have more but there is a question of room here in my cabin. I don't know about you, but when I'm cooking I usually mess and splatter the top part of my body. Which is why I wear a full apron, not a half of one. It just never made sense to me why homemakers had so many half aprons. So I ask a lady in her 70's if she had any explanation for my puzzlement. She said that her mother, and her peers didn't have many dresses to wear so they would have their full sized aprons to cook in. But if someone came to the door or company came then they would slip into one of their decorative half aprons. How ingenious! Did you know this already? You probably did!

In early spring I decided to wash and air dry a few of my tablecloths. I'm pledging to start using them instead of leaving them setting in a drawer. And I proud to say the last time we has friends over for dinner, I did.
Now I have my own straight from the horses mouth story to share about vintage tablecloths.
When I was a young girl I was sent was lucky enough to spend some of my summer vacation on my grandparents homestead in MO. This was so..... much fun! My grandma taught me so much and had so much patience too. But that's a whole different story for another day.
Back to the tablecloth. After we finished our lunch each day. Grandma would take the dirty dishes off the table to be washed and then spread a tablecloth over the leftover food. Then when it was time for supper she would lift the cloth and warm any food that needed warmed, add some fresh cooked foods, and voila-it was time to eat again! Now I know you're wondering what saved us from stomach poisoning. Frankly, I've ask myself that question a lot of times too. The only answer I can come up with is that she wasn't using food items that would cause intestinal problems. No egg based dressings, etc. It was vegetables from the garden and pickled food mostly. Now tell me, did your grandmother ever do this? Just curious if it was a common practice back then! Or if you have any other unusual uses for your tablecloths I'd love to know!
Blessings to all,


  1. What a great tablecloth collection you have and aprons too! I also collect both and like you, I must wear a full, not half apron. Thanks for FYI on the half apron, very interesting and it does make sense.

    I remember my grandmother and great grandmother putting a clean but stained (not for company use) over the white, good tablecloth. Probably the same reason as the half apron it could be pulled off if someone dropped by...Very clever of the homemakers back then.

  2. Beautiful tablecloths, I have some of my Mom's and should use them... they just don't fit any of my tables. Have you noticed how small everything was when we go back a few generations? Including my hiney! You know my grandparents didn't do this, but I've heard my parents say theirs did. I think you are right, they put up the things that might spoil and left out the things that wouldn't. Mom said one of her fondest memories was coming home after school to a biscuit and "fat meat" (bacon) in the warming tray of the wood stove.

  3. Oh I want your I am going to start my own collection...too fun!

    Oh my grandmother did the same thing...and we never got sick! Now we have so many guidelines on how to stay clean and we all seem to get sick all the time....maybe the saying "a little dirt doesn't hurt anyone" could apply to food more!

  4. I do the same a you, wear a full apron. I would always have a stain on my shirt if I didn't.
    I use table clothes also and love vintage ones.
    When I grew up our neighbors did the same practice with their food. I also wondered why no one was sick.
    Thanks for bringing back some of my old memories:)

  5. I always wondered about the half apron thing too, I am so glad you cleared that up, because like you I always ruin my shirts with oil splatters that wearing an apron would stop. Now the table cloth thing I never thought about but that seems like a good idea too. Do you remember the screen things that they put onto food? That was what my grandmother and great grandmother used. Because like you leaned the big meal of the day was lunch/dinner. Not supper.
    My tablecloths I use to protect my tables. I just love tablecloths.I like the ones on your clothes line.
    Thanks for your comment, if there is one thing that is good about growing older, it is knowing that God has went before us and we have seen so many miracles we do have that to fall back on when He asks us to take a step of faith. :)
    Have a lovely day,
    Oh, you listed all of the books you like in your profile page, and we could be twins. I love all of the same authors and I was so excited that you do too. I mean really who reads Gene Stratton Porter anymore?
    Not to mention your great name. :)

  6. Love your tablecloths! You have inspired me to pull some of my old ones out and use them. How do we forget the beauty of these things?

  7. Your tablecloths are gorgeous! I love the way they look out on the line together! The aprons are wonderful too. I think the story about the half and full aprons makes sense.
    I have never seen the table cloth used to hold food over from lunch to dinner. But I'm sure your Grandma knew what would keep safely and what wouldn't. Like you said, you didn't get sick.

  8. Good day! You have a nice collection of aprons. I did know that about aprons - clever ladies back then. I love your table cloths on the clothesline and had to laugh out loud at your story about your grandmother's use of one. Never heard that one before. It probably kept the flies off the food though. :-) I see you have your favorites listed. Yay! Looks great. Blessings, Pamela

  9. What a fun post, I am sitting here with my 80 year old Mom and she said she had never heard of the table cloth covering food to save it for the next meal.


  10. If you just asked my husband he will tell you that I think it is my job to save every tablecloth or dish made in the USA!! I love it all...I do sell on e-bay every once in a while when I need some trailer $$$ It kind of makes sense for putting the table cloth over the food because really not many people had refrigerators back then...I do use day I was having a lunch for friends and I looked at my table and realize everything was vintage and came from yard sales...but it was pretty!

  11. I love the photo of all your pretty tablecloths hanging on your clothes line. I hung out my clothes to dry for many years..I actually enjoyed the task--especially when I was hanging little baby clothes long ago :)

    In the past lots of food wasn't refrigerated ..they were pickled or highly salted so thye didn't spoil, so I guess that is thebtupes of foods your granmother left out and simply covered to keep them clean.

  12. I thought I was the only woman in america not waiting tables to use an apron. Every night I come in the door from work put on an apron and then start cleaning, cooking, gardening. etc. I never saw my grandmother in a half apron just a full she would get up in the morning and pull an apron over her clothes. I also never saw her in a night gown or bathroom mmm another story. When she would be asked to go some place she would whip the apron off fluff her hair and she was good to go. I never saw her cover the food on the table. I too have table cloths I love using them for company why save them? I love your table cloths all on the line such wonderful colors.
    I would also like to comment on your last post I envy your decision to stay put. I have found that life is short and you never hear anyone regret working more. You have such a lovely home and to be near the water is my dream.
    thanks for puting me on your blog list it's an honor and I am long winded tonight so off I go.

  13. I do not remember my grandmother doing this. But it was a great story. Love your vintage tableclothes hanging on the line.

  14. No, my grandmother never did that, but I did hear a visiting preacher tell a story very similar to yours. His topic was being hot or cold, but not lukewarm. Once he was a guest at your grandmother's ;> where at the noon meal, everything that was supposed to be hot was hot, hot, hot and everything that was supposed to be cold was ice-cold and refreshing. When the hostess pulled up the tablecloth over the remaining food and then unwrapped them for the evening meal, he was unimpressed with lukewarm. It obviously made an impression on me. Very interesting.

    You have a wonderful collection of vintage tablecloths, each lovely in its own way. My favorite is the one with blue plums and the red gingham-like center. I cherish my small collection of vintage tablecloths. Each one has a major flaw, but I love them all the same.

  15. I didn't know that about the aprons. I love stories about days gone by. Love your table cloth collection, I agree use them.

  16. Your tablecloths and aprons are beautiful! I don't remember my grandmother ever doing this with our food.

  17. What a beautiful place you live in. Years and years ago I taught during the summer in two communities - Seine River and North West Bay. I fell in love with Lake Superior and always wished to go back. Since then, whenever we drive across the country I have to stop and spend some time on the rocks and look at the lake.
    Lovely to find you!

  18. WEll, I am one of those goofy women that still wears an apron when I cook. I am such a mess that I can't stay clean otherwise.

    My own mother used to do that sometimes-cover up the stuff on the kitchen table with a big cloth. I can remember though that she would always take the pie off and put that in the top drawer of a big buffet. We never got food poisoning either. But, growing up on a farm I suppose it saved a lot of time doing it that way~

    Great post and I love all your tablecoths hanging in a row! xo Diana

  19. I have/had a bunch of old tablecloths which belonged to my mother. Not sure what happened to them...They are probably in our attic in a box.... Some of them look similar to yours... Guess I need to see if I can find them...

    Great memories --and pictures.


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You are dear and lovely friends!