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  • Texas | Columns | "True Confessions and Mild Obsessions"

    My Granny's Apron Strings

    by Frances Giles

    My maternal Czech grandmother, for whom I was named, was a warm, sweet presence in my childhood, and I always felt her unconditional love and approval. She was born Franska (Frances-no middle name) Jakubik in 1884 to Moravian immigrant parents from what was then the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and she embodied the open, generous, social nature of the Czechs. Eventually she married my grandfather, Frantisek (Frank) Emil Nedbalek, and they reared four children while engaging in farming in the Central Texas region of Burleson County. She was known to many as “Fanny” or Ms. Fanny.

    One of my fondest recollections of her is her habit of wearing an apron every day. She had a seemingly endless supply of these homemade, long, waist to knee, tied at the waist dress protectors. Most of them she sewed from unbleached domestic cotton fabric and adorned with pockets and a border around the hem made from colorful scraps of material. Unless she was going out she wore one daily to protect her everyday house dresses.

    >For reasons I don't recall, or probably never knew, Granny always kept exactly $5 in “little silver dimes” tied in one lower corner of her aprons which always got transferred to the next day's clean apron. Was it a form of security since she lived virtually her entire adult life with very little money? Probably so, but I'll never know now.

    During visits to Caldwell I saw Granny put those aprons to many uses, wiping wet or floury hands, using the skirt part to carry firewood in for the wood cook stove or vegetables from her garden, carefully cradling the fresh eggs gathered daily from her chickens, bunching it up to use as a makeshift potholder and using it to hold the hulls of shelled beans and peas which she later tossed to her chickens. No doubt she wiped my grimy face and that of my brother countless times, too.

    Granny always hurried to put on a clean apron if visitors appeared, and I saw her take a swipe at a table to give it a hasty dusting on the way through the living room a time or two. Only on trips to town on Saturdays to buy groceries and visit with her friends was she without an apron. Someone, her second cousin, at her funeral remarked that Ms. Fanny didn't look like herself, and they finally concluded it was because she didn't have an apron on and that she had her “false teeth” in. As much as Granny loved her aprons she detested those dentures and kept them in a mason jar high atop the pie safe in the kitchen unless she was, again, going to town or dressing up for some occasion.

    I miss my grandmother and would give just about anything to see her one more time. To hear her greet us with “See-see” and “Boo-chee” would warm my heart as it did more than a half century ago. Spanem Boehm, Granny.


    © Frances Giles
    "True Confessions and Mild Obsessions"
    February 7, 2013 Column
    Related Topics: Mothers |
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