This beautiful apron reflects a story as part of strategic World War I history. It is embroidered with the date 1-1-19, as well as “U.S.S. Ossipee” and “Ponta Delgada Acores.” It also has two embroidered flags, one the United States flag, and the other the flag of Portugal, an ally of the U.S.A. in World War I.
The embroidered date of 1-1-19 was just 6 ½ weeks after the end of World War I. Germany had signed an armistice with the Allies on November 11, 1918.
Ponta Delgada is a location in Portugal, and the U.S.S. Ossipee is a ship originally designed as a cruising cutter, capable of extremely long voyages for vessels of their size.
However, on April 6, 1917, she was transferred to the U.S. Department of Navy. She was painted the regular war color, and continued working with the Patrol Forces until orders were received to prepare for duty overseas in the war zone. On September 3, 1917, she joined her first convoy as a “Danger Zone Escort.” This duty generally lasted several days. On outbound convoys, the Danger Zone Escort would escort the convoy to a meeting with the "Ocean Escort" at sea. Later she also took on the duties of an “Ocean Escort,” securing convoys all the way to their International destinations.
While this cutter was within the war zone, she had convoyed 596 vessels. In 23 of these, she served as the ocean escort. The Ossipee observed submarines, or evidences of their presence. As a war escort ship, she helped convoys which were often attacked, with the loss of some merchant ships which were sunk. Ossipee, herself, was attacked once, barely escaping destruction as the torpedo missed her by 15 to 20 feet.
So who might have made this historically significant, beautiful apron that is now 92 years old? Since the location is in Portugal, could it have been made by the wife of an ally Portuguese sailor? The U.S.S. Ossipee later served in World War II and was eventually retired from war service. Who would the family have been who rode the waves and fought the fights to defend their country from the ravages of war? Probably one fine lady who prayed every day for her husband, taking care of the children, working at home in the kitchen, wearing an apron, sewing another, dating it 1-1-19. Or maybe a proud mother whose son had gone off to war, and she celebrated his return home with this lovely, meaningful, apron.