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Jingle Belles: 1952

Oak Park, Illinois, 1952. My grandmother (left), mother (center), and aunts. One of my cousins is leaning against the wall, her feet visible in the lower center of the photo. The occasion was probably a holiday, as the ladies are wearing their Sunday best, and that huge cooking pot had to have held a turkey. My mom, the only adult in the photo who's still with us, thinks it may have been Christmas. 35mm slide. View full size.

Oak Park, Illinois, 1952. My grandmother (left), mother (center), and aunts. One of my cousins is leaning against the wall, her feet visible in the lower center of the photo. The occasion was probably a holiday, as the ladies are wearing their Sunday best, and that huge cooking pot had to have held a turkey. My mom, the only adult in the photo who's still with us, thinks it may have been Christmas. 35mm slide. View full size.

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Aprons of today

Apparently there's still quite a few apron wearers of today's crowd, as there are several apron makers who are doing a booming business on eBay and etsy. And they don't seem to be the same vendors hawking their wares on both sites. I have a significant collection of them myself, in several styles and as many prints and colors, and have been not only collecting and wearing them for ages, but also finding they are much appreciated gifts that get used a lot by the recipients.

This is a great photo of the way family life used to be among many more people than it seems to be now. I could be wrong ~ I have been once or twice in my life ~ or maybe I just don't see it in photos like this any longer. My own grandparents have been gone for years, but my husband's grandparents have been with us until just recently. A big family gathering for major holidays such as Easter or the 4th of July, or just because we wanted to see everyone, was always held at their farm in northwestern Indiana during all but the winter months, when they closed up the house and became "Snowbirds" heading south to another home they owned in Florida. All the women and older girls gathered in the kitchen like in this photo, beforehand to set up the food we brought along to go with the wonderful creations Grandma whipped up farm-style, and again after the biggest part of the feasting had been done to do up the dishes and get the kitchen back to something like normal again. Desserts were always left out with small disposable plates and bowls, to avoid creating another pile of dirty dishes.

The smaller kids were shooed outside to play while the men gathered outside on the porch or in the barn, to visit with Grandpa, and to keep an eye on the kids and keep them out of trouble. The littlest ones stayed with us mothers and older sisters, and usually at Easter we all dressed up some ~ the kids more so than us grownups. Of course it was always understood that the littlest ones would have to have their fancy clothes changed to something more casual later in the day.

Christmas has always been done on a rotating basis among our generation of grandchildren, of which my husband is the oldest, but we used to dress up some for that too, even if it was just a nice sweater and slacks or nicer jeans, taking our brutal winter climate under condideration, although I don't recall anything like the gorgeous dresses and red heels like I see here!

As for those "sloppy blue slippers" mentioned earlier, they were neither sloppy nor slippers in this respect. Those were always "house shoes" and the resident females had that privilege in every group of which I have ever been a part!

Great photo that also brings back memories of my own grandmother, mother and aunts when I was a child in the early to mid-60s as well. I'll spare the details for space considerations, since I'm sure they echo so many others of us from that time. A beautiful bit of "Time Travel" provided here! All photos can be viewed in that respect, to be sure.

Aprons & dressy dresses

There would have been a drawer full of aprons the visiting ladies could borrow to protect their good dresses as they helped clean up, which they would only do if they were family or close friends, not "company." They probably wore housedresses or "slacks" to actually cook earlier in the day. They are having a good time, aren't they?

Your Grandma and my Mother

I love this picture because your grandma is a ringer for my mother. I showed this picture to my mother and she couldn't believe it. She carried on for 15 minutes on how she thought I photoshopped this picture. That's how much they look alike.

Old lady

There are no old ladies like your grandmother any more. They are now called senior citizens and are all out on the golf course, taking a cruise or playing the nickel slots at the casinos.

What's everyone oogling

What's everyone oogling about? That's exactly what our house looked like this past Thanksgiving, except the women don't dress up any more. They wear sweats and sneakers, have tattoos and eyebrow rings and studs through their tongues. Oh, and they don't do the dishes.

[Searching for a G, I guess. - Dave]

Possibly Polish Rockettes?

Thank you common-tater FK3 for your Polish memories as you have succeeded in bringing on an insatiable potato pancake craving in this fellow Pole. I want some NOW. As for the chorus line in this photo, here's a scenario: "You put your left foot in, you take your left foot out, (no, no, the LEFT foot). Only I could say this because I love Polish jokes and my dad says I was the best one ever.

Separate Tables

I like the little table on the left. My maternal Polish grandparents lived in Sterling Heights, MI, and had a very similar set in their basement. My grandfather built a second kitchen down there to keep the cooking business separate from the living area upstairs. They would have their morning coffee down there, while the dining room was for guests only. They would cook heaping piles of potato pancakes or pierogis and you couldn't leave until you were about to burst (and then most likely you couldn't leave - they were pretty crafty).

The new 38

My mother in law is 68 and she looks young enough to be the daughter of the 69 year old woman. It's amazing at how differently people age today.


I happen to think all these women, grandma too, were beautiful. This is from such a better time in American history, when family still mattered.

Heel Crazy

I just love the shoes on your mom and the lady second from the right.

Their ages

were (L to R): 69, 40, 23, 36 and 34. I believe at least two of the families were living in this house at the time, thus the multiple aprons.


I'm pretty sure you could find something like the one his mom is wearing if you tried Victoria's Secret.

Fancy Dishwashers

Wow, they started on those dishes even before they cut into the pie for dessert! By now the men must be having a cup of coffee in a room filled with blue smoke. My guess on the host here is the aunt with the sloppy blue slip on shoes. Interesting how they must have all brought their own aprons to this gathering... do they even sell aprons like these anymore?

Ever present smoke...

And because they weren't injecting botulinum toxin into their faces.

I think the dresses and aprons are wonderful! Aprons are such a wonderful thing, I can't for the life of me understand why everyone doesn't use them while cooking. Maybe I'm messier than the average cook.

Great photo. The poster who predicted on the train picture thread what was going on in the kitchen was spot on.

Which aunt?

Dave, who's the aunt that's second from right (blond curly hair, facing the camera)? She's pretty.

Your grandmother reminds me of my maternal great-grandmother. I barely remember her, as she passed away in 1964, at age 88.

[I dunno. I did not post this photo. - Dave]

Lovely family!

I love this photo! Maybe it's because I grew up in Oak Park, too, so I can relate.

Can you estimate the ages of these ladies? I'm always curious about that. Women then almost always looked older than women today - partly due to dress and hairstyles and exercise levels, partly due to ever-present smoke.


I have to admit, Grandma always looked like she'd just stepped out of a Norman Rockwell painting. As for being "rich," they certainly weren't -- though they weren't exactly destitute either. Like everyone else, they were coming out of some tough times following the Depression and WWII. But things were looking up by the time the '50s rolled around.

Your Mom

Looks fantastic! I can't imagine cooking in a dress like that and heels. And somehow her apron compliments it all.


It's amazing how much your grandmother looks like what I envision as the "prototypical" grandmother -- hair in a bun, simple print dress, wire-frame glasses, etc. Thanks for sharing this photo.


Love your grandma's kind face. One aunt seems to be admiring herself in the reflection of the roaster lid she is drying. Great red shoes. Looks like they are all having fun (except your cousin, who I bet is whining even though I can only see her legs). Your family must have been rich because you have (in 1952) a paper towel holder with actual paper towels being used. My Depression-era mother never allowed paper towels in the house -- too extravagant.

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