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.
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.
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.
"True Confessions and Mild Obsessions"
February 7, 2013 Column
Related Topics: Mothers
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