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‘Remembering the Apron’ program presented at library

  • Sheila Craig displays one of the more than 400 aprons she has at her program at the library Thursday. (Press photo James Grob.)

  • Those in attendance got to try on various styles of aprons during Sheila Craig's presentation on Thursday. (Press photo James Grob.)

  • Sheila Craig displays one of the more than 400 aprons she has at her program at the library Thursday. (Press photo James Grob.)

By James Grob,

About 20 Charles City residents showed up at the Zastrow Room of the Charles City Public Library on Thursday afternoon to learn a little bit about aprons.

Sheila Craig presented her program, “Remembering the Apron,” which took a nostalgic look at the apron in an interactive, hands-on demonstration.

Craig is a retired University of Minnesota Extension educator from Preston, Minnesota. She grew up in Burr Oak and graduated from Decorah High School. She has been doing apron programs for 15 years for libraries, church groups and care facilities.

“People usually ask me where I get all my aprons,” said Craig, who brought about 100 of the more than 400 aprons she has to the library. “Some are from my family, some I find at antique stores or at auctions.”

The majority of aprons Craig owns started coming in after she started giving her apron demonstrations. She’s done about 60 programs up in Minnesota since 2005.

“Most of my aprons have come from people who have their grandma’s aprons,” she said. “They don’t want to throw them away, but they don’t know what to do with them, so they ask me if I’ll take them. Obviously, since I have 400, I’ve said yes.”

Craig’s program looked at the fabrics and trims, the styles and uses of aprons. She often referred to a book by Joyce Cheney entitled, “Aprons: Icons of the American Home” as a guide.

“It’s about the nostalgia. It’s about thinking back and remembering your ancestors,” Craig said. “People do genealogy, but there’s more to genealogy. It’s about who these people were, and what did they wear?”

Craig’s sister is a librarian who recently connected with other librarians who were asking if anyone did a program on aprons. Craig has done about 20 presentations at libraries around Iowa this summer and is contracted to do about 10 more this fall.

“I took an early retirement, and didn’t know for sure what I was going to do, and I friend talked me into this,” she said. “People just keep giving aprons to me, that’s how I have so many. I have a hard time saying no, because I don’t want to throw them away.”

During the interactive, hour-long program, those in attendance touched the aprons and even got the chance to try them on. Craig showed aprons that had various uses around the home, as well as aprons used occupationally and aprons from other countries around the world.

She said each apron had a personal history.

“I hope a few people will go home and write a story for their families. There are several who have aprons. I hope they go home and write a story, take a picture of it, and save that so when their grandchildren look at it, there is a meaning and a reason why grandma kept things like this.”