Menu Join now Search

Modern History

Modern History

It was a natural outcome of the e-mail that I soon thought of the aprons worn by my mom, grandmothers and aunts. I even recalled a photo tucked away in a family album of myself, about age five, wearing a crisp striped one, as I proudly pulled a tray of cookies out of the oven. 

Apparently, I am not the only one to be taking a trip down memory lane over aprons. Just a couple of weeks ago, I read about an art exhibit featuring...what else...aprons! In the gallery, you can view delicate lacy ones, some made of sturdy butcher cloth and those with embroidery stitches lovingly applied. 

Yet, Martha Stewart, not withstanding, it is doubtful aprons will ever really make a comeback. Microwave ovens, casual clothing and our modern lifestyles have relegated the apron to the status of quaint artifact. 

The whole apron idea got me to thinking of all the other everyday objects that have faded into obscurity and obsolescence. The LP cover was the first object that popped into my mind. The design work on a five-inch square CD case will never have the same impact as that of a record album jacket. Imagine the artwork from Sergeant Pepper squeezed onto an area not much larger than a drink coaster! 

Photo albums are another quickly disappearing item from our everyday lives. Now when someone asks if you want to see a photo of the kids, they are more likely to hand you their camera phone, rather than a collection in an album! 

Bottle caps, glass milk jugs, rotary dial phones, flashcubes, beanbag chairs, typewriters, black and white TVs…The list grows larger each passing year. All “relics” of the past, through no flaw in their own design, but just not quite “modern” enough for our world today. 

In our society, however, there have always been those who preserve the past, store the treasures and display them for years to come. They proudly carry the title of “historian.” And those that know me well, will tell you that I more than qualify for that position, at least when it comes to preserving these and similar artifacts of our recent past. The only difference between these more “serious” curators and myself is that my museum just happens to be conveniently located in my basement!  

A while back, a friend forwarded me an e-mail, which waxed nostalgically about aprons. Cleverly written, it reflected upon how so many everyday actions were intertwined between the aprons and the women who wore them. Besides their primary function of keeping a dress clean, aprons wiped away a child’s tears, did a quick dusting job when company was at the door and served as a makeshift carry basket. As more women went to work outside the home and clothing styles changed from dresses to pants, the apron quietly faded away, ending up in the back of drawers or donated to the local thrift shop.