With Easter upon us I can’t help but reminisce about how the occasion was celebrated back in my day.
The Easter Bunny certainly had his role just like today but because I grew up in a Catholic family the religious significance of this special day was stressed.
Our first “challenge” of the season began on Palm Sunday when we came home from church with fresh palms. If we didn’t remember to put them in a high place immediately our cat would find them. No disrespect ever took place, but we had to be quick!
I attended Christ the King parochial school in Rutland and on Good Friday every class crossed the street “two by two” to attend a noon-time church service. School was over for the day once the service ended. After church my friend, Barbara Castle, always invited me to her house, which was right around the corner. After a quick lunch (no meat of course on Friday) Mrs. Castle gave us a list of everything needed to complete the Easter Sunday outfits for all five children. She went back to sewing for the girls as Barbara (the oldest child) and I waited until 3 p.m. to head downtown.
Why 3 p.m.? Back in the 50s and 60s downtown stores were closed from noon to 3 p.m. Those three hours were also a time of silence for many.
When 3 p.m. rolled around it was time to head downtown. What was on Mrs. Castle’s list? Well, just about everyone needed dress socks, plus white gloves for some of the girls, a white shirt and new tie for Chip (the only boy in the family), and a corsage for all the girls and Mrs. Castle. Occasionally an Easter bonnet was also needed. The list always included a little of “this and that” which constituted a scavenger hunt in Woolworth’s. It took the remainder of Good Friday afternoon to find everything. We appreciated Woolworth’s soda fountain that offered us a break from shopping. Our arms were full as we walked back to Spellman Terrace but we always got everything on the list. This ritual continued into our high school days and is still one of my fondest recollections.
In my teenage years I loved shopping with my mother for a hat to wear on Easter. Mayfair Millinery on Center Street was “the” place to find a stylish hat. Back then women had to cover their heads while attending Mass. Doing so in the most fashionable manner seemed to be the goal on this special Sunday.
It was great when Easter came in late April. We could wear a lightweight coat or suit with our corsages pinned on the lapel. Having a late-season Easter also eliminated the need for my father to drop us off as close to the church as possible so our new shoes wouldn’t get wet from the snow. After all, who would want to ruin an Easter outfit with something practical like boots?
Sometimes memories of the past are totally different from today but when it comes to Easter egg hunts there is no difference. I see kids running around outside, just as I did, looking for little “treasures” that are hidden in their yards. I bet they will also enjoy an Easter basket when they get inside, complete with a chocolate bunny and maybe some “peeps.” Aaah, to be a kid again!
The days of chic hats, white gloves and corsages are now passé. But I am glad that I have those days to remember, as they were really quite special. The good news is that chocolate bunnies and peeps live on, and this senior plans to have a taste of both. A few jelly beans might also be in order!