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PARASOLS AND APRONS


The History of "Parasols"
A parasol is defined as a light usually small umbrella carried as protection from the sun. The word parasol literally means "for sun" in Spanish. Parasols originated in the East Indies about 5,000 years ago. In 3000 B.C., the Egyptians used parasols as a sunshade for sun protection. This was a royal privilege and bearers did the carrying. Around the 1st century B.C. the parasol spread to ancient Rome and Greece. It took the Italian renaissance in the 16th century to introduce the parasol to European soil. King Louis the XIV soon after brought them to France. A parasol appeared on a street corner in Windsor, Connecticut in 1740 carried by a fashionable lady. It had been brought all the way from the West Indies and may have been the first parasol in North America.


The parasol is most often thought of with Victorian society in England and the U.S. Perhaps the chief reason for its popularity at the time was the Victorian admiration (or obsession) for a fair complexion. It was more than a sign of beauty, it showed the world that a woman was a lady and didn't have to work outdoors. They were as a much a part of a well dressed lady's outfit as were her gloves, hat, shoes and stockings. . A fashionable lady carried a different parasol for each outfit. They became popular gifts for men to give their lady. Like the fan and lacy handkerchief, the parasol was both practical and an aid to the subtle art of flirtation. Parasols continued to increase in popularity until the Edwardian era in the early 1900s.


While older women have long used parasols for protective purposes, it has been only recently that young women have seen them as a fashion accessory. After remaining out of fashion for about 90 years, parasols had a resurgence around 1990 as many women no longer considered it healthy or wise to be in the sun too long. Increased awareness about skin cancer contributed to the renaissance of parasols. Parasols are being carried again in increasing numbers in the U. S., Great Britain, France and especially Japan. Parasols are now coming out in new materials (Solarweave) including fabrics with UV protection that filter out 97% of UV rays.


The History of 'APRONS'
I don't think our kids know what an apron is. The principal use of Grandma's apron was to protect the dress underneath, because she only had a few, it was easier to wash aprons than dresses and they used less material, but along with that, it served as a potholder for removing hot pans from the oven. It was wonderful for drying children's tears, and on occasion was even used for cleaning out dirty ears. From the chicken coop, the apron was used for carrying eggs, fussy chicks, and sometimes half-hatched eggs to be finished in the warming oven.


When company came, those aprons were ideal hiding places for shy kids. And when the weather was cold grandma wrapped it around her arms. Those big old aprons wiped many a perspiring brow, bent over the hot wood stove. Chips and kindling wood were brought into the kitchen in that apron. From the garden, it carried all sorts of vegetables. After the peas had been shelled, it carried out the hulls. In the fall, the apron was used to bring in apples that had fallen from the trees. When unexpected company drove up the road, it was surprising how much furniture that old apron could dust in a matter of seconds. When dinner was ready, Grandma walked out onto the porch, waved her apron, and the men folk knew it was time to come in from the fields to dinner. It will be a long time before someone invents something that will replace that 'old-time apron' that served so many purposes.


REMEMBER:
Grandma used to set her hot baked apple pies on the window sill to cool. Her granddaughters set theirs on the windowsill to thaw. They would go crazy now trying to figure out how many germs were on that apron. I don't think I ever caught anything from an apron.