Sunday, April 4, 2010

4 April 1956 “Happy Easter”

mccormickadBefore PAAS Easter egg color one used food color and before that, you used vegetable dye. I remember my older sister was always rather ‘earthy’ (how she was referred in the family) and when I was young and visited at her home during Easter, enjoyed coloring eggs with beetroot, carrots, onions. The kitchen smelled of lovely scents, like soup and cooking, though the cabbage didn’t always send off the loveliest of odors.

easterboy This little boy hunting eggs in the mid 1950’s obviously took advantage of McCormick to get those brilliantly colored eggs.

eastercardgirl It seemed Easter cards were given in the 1950’s. I do recall receiving Easter cards from grandparents. What I remember most about those and any cards from relatives was to see what number appeared on the corners of those crisp new green bills that would fall out. Well, even a child was excited to have their own spending money. I wonder, now with ATM/DEBIT and digitalized money, do children still receive cash in cards or do they probably receive ‘gift cards’ which teach them to spend spend spend. We do seem to keep training children to be consumers. I mean, you cannot have the same joy dropping a Target gift card into a piggy bank as hearing the coins drop or eyeing, with joy, the little cut glass candy jar on your bedroom shelf with those lovely curled green bills. They represented more than their potential conversion to STUFF, there was an element of pride and even ‘kid power’ in knowing that money was there, just in case. Or you could happily count it up until reaching the goal of that toy or item. I even recall a little green savings book, that the bank teller would right your amount in, when you took some of that ‘green stuff’ to save away. Do parents teach children to save anymore? Do parents save anymore? I don’t know, I am not a parent. If I were, you can bet they’d have their own little version of saving and part of their weekly allowance would go into savings. I’d take them by their little chubby hand to the bank and teach them how each week a percentage needs to be squirreled away. That certainly must be a better habit to teach young children then to help them to go buy things with plastic cards that are like ‘magic’ that you trade in for what you want. But, what do I know,I am not a parent.

easterchildrenI bet there was a fight this Easter morning and the little boy won. You can see the determined look in his eye as he is proudly sporting with his Easter Sunday best, his sneakers! Obviously, sister preferred the appropriate footwear to her darling ruffled dress. eastershoes These darling Easter shoes were obviously not to his liking. Though, I have to say, how adorable are these shoes compared to the hideous puffy often unlaced white monstrosity tennis shoes kids wear today. I also always laugh a bit when I see young children who cannot walk wearing expensive sneakers or little ‘fashion work boots’. It’s not as if they are going to be climbing a mountain. I don’t understand why ugly is the new fashion.

easterchicks These darling little chick from the 1950’s stirred my heart when I found this picture. As I have stated before, I have rather old parents and though I was born in the early 70’s, they were already in their 40s. Their marriage happened in 1950 and they had my sisters and brothers during the 50’s. So, when I came along, I always had a more varied collection of Holiday traditions and decorations. I recall these little darlings and their being fastened to my Easter baskets come Easter Sunday morning.

I remember when it was time to get the Easter decorations down from the attics. I was always excited, as these little gems were one of my favorite things to play with. As, at Christmas, I was always anxious to set up the little sparkly cardboard miniature village with the ‘snow’ of cotton batten and fine layer of old (actually from the 1950’s my mother kept and stored everything) with the bits of inlaid square glitter woven inside. An etched mirror would become a skating pond for the little people of the village.

But, these little chicks and an old book that had been my father’s when he was a boy in the 1930s. The book was a wonderful tale of how the children were going to visit their grandparents on the farm. I loved that book, for it seemed magical, the children in their Sunday best cruising out of the city in their big rounded black 1930’s car. I had no parents who lived on a farm, not a real farm. Both sets of my grand parents lived in the country, per se, and their were gardens, but never any animals other than little dogs rushing about. In the story the children received little chicks as Easter gifts, it was always my dream, come Easter morning.

Being the youngest child of an older family can often be lonely. It is an odd mix of being an only child (for I was really raised alone) but preceded me was the vast lifetime of stories of what THEY did (my siblings). Holidays had been spent, decades of Easters and Christmases, many recorded on odd old movies with no sound that had to be played on a strange machine in a darkened room upon a silver screen that was pulled out and put away into closets recesses. There was a mythology of sorts in my head of these phantom siblings of mine. I knew them now, as adults with children, but could view them, as if through the mists to Avalon, younger versions of them, better dressed, smiling and waving, soundlessly happy. The sheer number of them mingled with cousins, now also grown beyond my age.

I think it was the longing and strange childish sentimentality towards these times that convinced my mother when Easter to filly my Easter basket with two down chicks. I was around 8 or so. My heart leapt! To see and hear and feel those darling little puff balls was  a dream come true. The pages of my Easter book had come to life, here they were all mine. We did not live in the country, but we managed to convert a little outbuilding shed to their home. I relished getting up early to care for them and to watch them grow. They both, unfortunately, turned out to be roosters (no eggs for me) but they were the tamest birds ever. They would follow me about the yard and even chase my little dog. They were protective of me and one of them chased and bit my niece (who is only a few years younger than me) and to this day she hates chickens. But, I loved them. They represented a whole world to me. Something that was completely mine and my siblings, those phantom young versions of them, silently waving at the camera, never had chickens. But, I did. And, to this day, I always try, depending on where I am living, to keep them. This spring, when I get a new batch, my heart will still leap with joy, like the 8 year old me, longing to hold their downy little bodies and smiling at them in the morning, as they wait patiently for me to feed and care for them.

What an odd mixture a life is. The various points of sad and happy moments as children leave such an imprint upon our little brains that we often, quite unconsciously, find ourselves looking to recreate those moments. Or, perhaps they set a pattern to our life that we simply follow as naturally as breathing. Maybe even my choice at this late stage of still being childless is part of that. I recall never really being around children much when I was a child. Most of my time was spent amusing myself, so the rhythm of that solitary march seems so normal that I never thought to alleviate it. Who can say? For those of you who do have children and are celebrating this Easter, remember well how you represent it, for they surely will.

So, have a lovely Easter and now enjoy the silent beauty of this 1950’s Easter Sunday, when ladies dressed and received Easter corsages!


  1. I'm sure Mr "Pipe and Grumble" will make your Easter a happy one.

  2. Actually, we are having a lovely day. This year Easter happens to fall on our 13th wedding Anniversary! Exotic Trips? Lavish Dinners? Non, we old curmudgeons are having a Cape Cod day. We are out working in the yard, I am wearing my dungarees, my old straw hat and gardening gloves. We are installing new fencing and laying out the grid for my new veg garden. Later we are going to bike to the seashore (on our vintage bikes of course!) and stop at the local Fish Shack (open for the season) stuff ourselves on scallops, oysters and Lobster served on paperplates and enjoyed at picnic tables with views of the water. Over all, I think, we are having a smashing Easter and Anniversary. It's nice to enjoy where you live so much you needn't take a holiday away from it!

  3. oh...happy anniversary (and Easter, I guess)!
    We're doing much of the same: walk on the beach with the dog, yard work including putting up my fence around my veg beds, then grilling sausages and tuna, then a late baseball game (which I will fall asleep during). It was a great day!
    Btw, I remember Easters at your house. I remember sometimes getting to spend easter/spring break at your house and grandma hiding our easter baskets. 'If you find someone else's, leave it there!' I still get checks from the in-laws for birthdays and christmas, but i definately remember the CASH falling out as a child. Back then I stashed it...these days, I pay bills. (don't tell the MIL, though, she always says, 'use it for something fun!'

  4. Buying gift cards for kids is pretty silly IMO. They like to get a present to open, something big that provides instant gratification. I've been to a few birthday parties where people have given gift cards and the kids always just stare at them for a moment and then discard them in favor of the toys and bright bags stuffed with tissue paper. I try to get them something useful and educational or at least something that I know they'll really enjoy. For recent parties I've purchased a wooden building set, a box of various jigsaw puzzles, and a pair of fireman rain boots which were for a fire truck crazy 3 year old.

    I don't mind getting them as an adult though, mostly because the only people who buy me a present nowadays are my in-laws and my MIL is terrible at choosing gifts. Some of them are so terrible that I think she's doing it on purpose. Trouble is, she's one of those people who wants to be told exactly what to buy or better yet, just hand the recipient her credit card and ask them to order their own gift online. I'd like to think that she'd be able to pick something suitable given we've known each other for 12 years now but she won't even pick gifts for her own son.

  5. Rhonda-if it were me, and that is the way she is, I would set up a fund for that purpose and instruct her (she sounds as if she would be relieved) that for her gift giving contributing to that would be the gift. Then you don't HAVE to buy anything (as you do with a gift card) and you could make it a fun holiday fund or something or for 'education' whenever family memebers want to take a pottery class or some local college course, that sort of thing. I guess my issue with the gift cards is all it does is reinforce our need to keep buying stuff. I mean, honestly, how much stuff do we need? But, don't mind me, I am becoming an old curmudgeon set in her ways and I will go on and on. I like the idea of the firemen boots, I bet there were big eyes and smiles upon opening that gift!

  6. This was one of my favorite posts to read--I just love hearing about your life growing up.

    Happy Easter and anniversary, it sounds like you had a lovely day.

  7. My children get an allowance each week, and put half of it away in their piggy bank :)

    For Easter, from the grandparents, each boy received some chocolate, my parents gave a crisp ten dollar bill and my inlaws gave each boy ten loonies (dollar coins), to spend at Canada's Wonderland this summer.

    I love Easter and we had a grand ole time here with my inlaws visiting :)

    Mom in Canada

  8. There's no way she'd give money, that would be classless. Yes, that statement was dripping with sarcasm. I don't really mind the gift cards because my hubby is good at telling her which ones I'd like such as Home Depot. They're cards I can actually use for things that I need. Much better than some of her previous gift attempts which have ranged from the ridiculous to the just plain unnecessary. She has given me 10 mugs, two sets of 4 and one pair, over the past 5 years. I had plenty of mugs before. Now I'll probably never need to buy mugs again because I have about 6 spare even when I have several guests drinking tea and coffee at the same time so there's plenty of spare to cover breakages!

  9. Rhonda-that's good. I don't understand when people give dishes, unless they know you collect a certain pattern or china and add to it, but there is nothing I hate more (well that is an exaggeration, there are many things I hate more, but you get my point)than a random assortment of mugs. World's best whatever etc.I don't know it's just a pet peeve of mine. If and when I have got such gifts I simply donate them. For Christmas Gussie bought me some lovely dishes, but she knew I collected the Temporama dishes from the 50's as my everyday dishes, so she bought me a darling creamer (to replace one that did not make the move) two different size serving platters I did not have and a wonderful covered serving dish that I did not even realize was available. To receive such well thought out gifts of vintage china to match a pattern I use daily shows someone cares and pays attention to you, which always feel nice. I suppose 'cash' might seem classless, but money quietly transferred to a fund set up for that can be a simple call to your banker. Just a suggestion to anyone who hates gift cards or has someone who means well but always guesses wrong. I feel it isn't as crass as saying. "hey just give me money" but 'Guess what fun idea we have? A fund set up for holidays. or A fund for local classes" then it does seem as if someone is contributing to your own fun/education/joy, which is really what gift giving is about. And, I am not saying anyone has to go this, but it could be fun. I am glad to see, though, that it seems kids do get cash, which I do think is important, because so much of the modern world is credit/debit we aren't really aware of our money and therefore spend foolishly and end up in debt.

  10. Yes, we still give green bills in nice cards as gifts for teenagers, most as birthday gifts. I insist that Christmas gifts are real gifts. Sometimes I am more creative and make up a funny packing for the bills.

    Son gets money weekly, for cleaning and for clearing up his own room, he gets nothing for doing nothing. We transfer the weekly money to his account and he has a MasterCard. This is due to the fact that he is very scampy with money and I’m afraid he will lose them or they will get stolen. Some month ago he bought a moped from money he had earned and saved himself. I also think it is a good thing to learn to save and be economical.

    I have a lot of those small puffy yellow chickens as the left one in your photo, they are so sweet and I place them everywhere in my dining room. And yes, I love Easter almost as much as I love Christmas. I just adore traditions and holidays.

  11. 50sgal,

    I, too, remember watching old silent home movies of when I was little. It was so fun.

  12. I, unfortunately, was not in the movies. You see, I was not actually born when the old movies were made. My grandfather would show them to me. When we would visit and I would ask so often that he often would have it set up for me. I think he liked that I enjoyed them, even though I was never part of them. By the time I came around all the cousins and such were all grown and the movies sort of stopped. Then after awhile it was vhs with sound. I think that was part of the mystique and the mythos I had built up of these 'other worldly' siblings trapped in their silent waving smiling holidays.

  13. Though you were not in them, I like how you describe them and the effect they had on you. I would love to get to see ours again. I don't even know if the originals still exist, as Mom and Dad had them put onto VHS for Gramma quite a few years ago.


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