Tag Archives: Easter

Easter: Vinegar, Hardboiled Eggs and Granddaddy’s Hound Dog

EasterAtMimiShelbyI opened a vinegar bottle one day and suddenly Easter popped into my mind. Vinegar, food coloring, hardboiled eggs, and granddaddy’s hound dog…

In the early 1950’s Easter had several meanings around my house. Jesus’ resurrection was first and foremost. All the other meanings sprang out of that one, like new Easter dresses. We had to have new clothes for Easter, because Easter represents new life, new beginnings, a new start.

I don’t know when my brother Harold’s new outfits were acquired but mama always took me shopping for mine. We browsed through J. C. Penney’s dress racks. “Why don’t we change colors this year?” mama would suggest, examining pink selections with frills and bows and poufy sleeves. “What about pleats?”

Yuk. I really, really preferred blue. Since mama preferred not to have crying fits or temper tantrums on her hands, blue it was for my dress, again. Next came the bonnet, of course. Wide brim? Chiffon roses? Fabric or straw? Whatever matched the dress, that’s what we wound up with.

Dress and bonnet in hand, over to the shoe department we marched. That was a neat place. It was such fun to see your foot skeleton in the x-ray machine. “Can I have black this time, please, please?” No, Easter needs white shoes and white frilly socks.

Easter eve meant pulling out the vinegar, an assortment of coffee cups and tiny food coloring bottles. Mama boiled a dozen white eggs, then let Harold and me dip them one by one in the smelly dye. I had a blast making mine light blue, and dark blue, and darker blue. Of course I was dipping the same egg over and over.

But mama said we needed pinks and yellows and greens too so she put a stop to my experiment. (I was trying to make a black egg but my curiosity was never satisfied in that regard. Pity.) We set aside our masterpieces for the morrow and went to bed early.

Easter Sunday Harold and I awoke bright and early to see what the “Easter bunny” brought. We were well aware there was no actual bunny, but here was another meaning that went with Easter: gifts, representing the gift of eternal life in Jesus.

Green cellophane grass spilled over the edges of a brand new basket. Nestled atop the grass would be a chocolate egg surrounded with other candy goodies and a small toy or two. The entire basket was encased in yellow or gold cellophane, gathered and tied at the top with a big bow.

Easter1967We usually didn’t get up early enough for the sunrise service at Timrod Park, but 11:00 worship usually featured “Up From The Grave He Arose” and “Christ the Lord is Risen Today.” The sanctuary was filled to capacity and a sea of new ladies’ millinery met your eye in every direction.

After church we didn’t go home for lunch. Still in our new finery we headed for Mimi and Da’s house, a sumptuous Easter dinner of ham, fried chicken and potato salad, and another meaning of Easter: family. Being part of a family. Being reunited with family. Our family Egg Hunt with Mimi, Da, aunts, uncles and cousins, included lots of in-laws and sometimes some of their family, totally unrelated to us except on this special day.

The kids had to stay inside while the parents hid the eggs outside, naturally. We champed at the bit until finally the signal was given and we made a mad dash with our baskets. Mimi’s large farm yard was full of likely hiding places. Climbing rose bushes adjoined chinaberry trees. A fenced chicken pen was lined with clumps of jonquils, border grass and assorted weeds.

Upturned foot tubs and cracked enamel pots were scattered amidst bits and pieces of farm tools. A rolled-up clothes line lay across a pile of clothes pins. Partially empty chicken feed sacks sat side by side with a stack of dried corn cobs at the edge of the porch. Porch steps! Truck tires! Every imaginable spot was a potential hiding place for a dyed egg.

HoundDogEasterEggsThere was an egg count, of course, and a prize egg made of plastic. If you found that one you were awarded something really special, perhaps a chocolate bunny.

The race was to see how many eggs we could find before time was called, and how many eggs granddaddy’s hound dog could find. He wasn’t supposed to take part in the hunt but somehow he had developed a taste for boiled eggs, shell and all. If we did our job well he would be disappointed. If not — oh well, the lost eggs wouldn’t go to waste.

While us kids compared our basket totals, folding chairs were set up outside. Cups of fresh perked Maxwell House were handed around with wedges of Mimi’s pound cake for the grown-ups. The kids quenched our thirst with Kool-Aid, and more Easter eggs accompanied by salt and pepper shakers were distributed to anyone interested in actually eating them. Many were.

All in all, my childhood Easters were wonderful times. There were weeks of preparation as choirs rehearsed musicals, schools prepared for Easter break and we shopped for the latest spring fashions. Easter meant thoughtfulness, forgiveness, newness, celebration, reunions, food, fun and fellowship. (It still does.)

Even granddaddy’s hound dog had a good time on Easter! And the smell of vinegar brings it all back.

Easter Traditions, Part Two

Easter at Mimi’s house, 1967. One thing about Easter when I was growing up, you couldn’t escape Daddy’s camera. He always came to our after-church Easter dinners at Mimi and Da’s equipped with tripod, big box camera and voluminous black cloth.

While we were still decked out in our Easter finery there had to be posing for pictures. And posing. And posing. Before or after lunch, before or after the Easter egg hunt (sometimes both), Harold and I had to stand still for hours — well, it seemed like hours anyway.

And we had to smile. “Hold it. Hold it! Hold it!!!” It’s hard to hold a smile when every fiber of your being knows the other kids are out there finding all the colored eggs.

Before my children were born, I vowed not to put them through the Easter-posing-for-pictures ordeal. I would be a kind, thoughtful, considerate Easter parent. Huh. Guess how long that resolution lasted? When my son was born, all those self-made promises about photos vanished into never-never land, the cameras came out and click, click, click, I went. Every occasion, too, not just Easter, had to be recorded for all time.

Shopping for new Easter clothes continued into this new generation. Every family I knew still did that, and so did we right up until my kids were in high school. Naturally it was only right that we took special photos on Easter. That was when you could count on everyone being dressed up in their snappy suits, shiny shoes, frills and lace, the whole nine yards.

So, before and during and after the annual Easter egg hunt, my children had to stand still for a few moments and smile. “Just one more, smile!” and “Maybe one more for good measure, smile!” At least the posing part didn’t last as long with this generation. Although Daddy did have a small camera for snapshots, he didn’t take many at Easter for some reason. He usually let one horrible lengthy posed session be it.

I didn’t have the talent and training for photography that Daddy had. So by the time my children came along, I made sure to take enough photos on Easter, posed ones and candid ones, so that some shots were bound to be good. After all, grandparents, aunts and uncles would like to have a copy, surely. And of course I took shots of everybody else’s children, all the aunts, uncles and grandparents, too. Practice makes perfect, you know.

These last few years as I glance around church at Easter time, I realize the casual look is superseding Easter bonnets, buttons and bows. Traditions have changed. The smallest worshipers may still look adorable in frilly dresses and little suits, but I have an inkling that wasn’t their first choice of church clothes.

But after Easter church services? Ah, here’s where the more things change, the more they stay the same. Except that now it’s the digital age, the camera-phone age, the mini-camcorder age. Posing may result in a good bit of goofiness but somewhere in all those hundreds of Easter shots there’s bound to be some good ones. Upload to the computer, blog a bunch, and be sure to email the best and the worst and the funniest shots around the world.

I think Daddy would be pleased that my brother and I have re-caught the camera bug in recent years. He probably wouldn’t mind that our methods are a bit more modern and different from his. He’d agree that Easter still calls for celebration, for family get-togethers, and definitely for cameras.