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!

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