The Grayslake Historical Society and the Grayslake Heritage Center and Museum have developed a unique exhibit in the museum tracing the history of Grayslake and family activities in the village throughout the years by displaying a variety of aprons used commercially, industrially and individually in Grayslake.
Aprons: Ties to the Past, is a limited exhibit that uses occupational and individual aprons to tell the stories of people who were part of Grayslake's history. The exhibit runs through April 30 in the Grayslake Heritage Center and Museum, 164 Hawley St., in downtown Grayslake. The museum is open from noon to 4 p.m. Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays and during downtown community events.
Highlights of the exhibit include a metal mesh apron and a blacksmith apron along with many kitchen aprons. Also displayed are children's aprons, hostess aprons and aprons used for special occasions.
Here are some of the aprons on display, many of which are complemented with appropriate artifacts from the historical society’s collection:
Blacksmith apron: The Davis, Pester and Gooding families were blacksmiths in early Grayslake. In 1916 William Pester built his blacksmith shop at 82 Center St., now the location of Something's Brewing. In 1954, the Grayslake Fire Equipment Co. at 122 Center St., owned by Kenneth Poehler, a former blacksmith in town, built the Grayslake fire engine, Wilbur, owned by the Grayslake Historical Society and on display in the annex of the museum.
Carpenter apron: Wilbur Lumber Co. followed the Wisconsin Central Railroad to Grayslake from Burlington, Wis. in 1886. The lumber company at 31 S. Seymour Ave. provided the new community with building supplies for homes and businesses. In March of 1899 a lumberyard employee died in a fire that destroyed the buildings. The Grayslake Volunteer Fire Department was organized as a result of this fire. The company burned again on New Year's Eve in 1955 and for the third time in 1974. It was Grayslake's oldest continuing business until it closed in March 1994.
Delicatessen apron: Marie Horenberger owned the delicatessen at 219 Center St. for more than 30 years, ending in 1944. John Welte was a dedicated worker at Horenberger's and was one of Grayslake's first firemen. As soon as the fire alarm at the Grayslake Gelatin factory sounded, John would leave the deli and run north on Whitney Street with his apron strings flying. He never missed a fire.
Carhop apron: Carhops have been serving burgers, hot dogs and world famous root beer to patrons at the Grayslake Dog N Suds drive-in since it opened at 454 Center St. in 1964. Wearing aprons, visors, changers and sometimes roller skates, the carhops deliver food on trays that hang on the window of the patron's car.
Caterer apron: This apron was worn by servers for Bea's Catering Service owned by Bea Tiffany who operated the business during the 1980s in addition to owning and operating the delicatessen at 219 Center St.
Baker apron: Downtown Grayslake often had two bakeries in the early part of the 20th Century. Grayslake residents during the 1950s era remember these bakeries: Heileman, Halkar, Steffensen, Billings and Sonny's. The apron on display is from Lovin' Oven Cakery in Round Lake Beach, owned by former Grayslake residents.
Butcher apron: Edward C. Hook operated a meat market on Center Street for more than 30 years. He began his business at 129 Center St. and in 1912 moved to his own newly constructed building at 123 Center St. Butcher Art Heiden purchased the building from Hook in 1948. Merrill Tegan bought the building and the business in 1952. The market closed in 1965.
Grocery store apron: The Piggly Wiggly grocery store opened at 815 Center St. in 1993. It was affectionately called the Pig and contributed food for local events and hosted the Lake County Farm Bureau Race for Hunger. The store closed on Dec. 15 last year.
Restaurant apron: Something's Brewing began business in the old telephone building on South Whitney Street which no longer exists. It is now located in the former 1916 Pester's Blacksmith Shop at 82 Center St.
Perhaps the most versatile apron was the woman's kitchen apron circa 1912. Many are on display in the museum. The principle use was to protect the dress underneath, but it had a myriad of other uses that varied with the needs of the woman, her ingenuity and imagination.
It could be used as a pot holder, for drying a child's tears, cleaning out a child's dirty ears, carrying eggs from the chicken coop, carrying kindling and chips for the kitchen fire or hot wood stove, wiping perspiration from her brow, carrying a variety of vegetables from the garden, carrying apples in the fall and wrapping her arms in the apron to ward off the fall and winter chills.
Submitted by the Grayslake Historical Society