First, I can't begin this post without acknowledging that this is Good Friday. I'm sharply aware of the holiness of this day, the enormity of the sacrifice made for us, and the love and service to which it commits us every day. The Alleluia! victory of Easter Sunday owes everything to the terrible grief of the day we remember today.
That said, I want to share my happy memories of Easter, 1954, when I was nine. My father was Portuguese and looked a little like The Godfather. He was very swarthy, had a beautiful beakey nose, and was a foreman in a handbag factory. My mother was French Canadian, a brilliant seamstress who probably could have been a designer had women had more options in her day. But she was happy to raise my older sister and me in a small apartment over a corset and dress shop in downtown New Bedford, Mass.
Across the street from us was a candy store whose window was resplendent with chocolate bunnies, eggs, crosses, and flowers. (This was a predominantly Catholic community, hence the chocolate crosses.) The Portuguese bakery had magnificent mounds of bread with beautifully colored boiled eggs in them, and Marvel's, the bridal shop on the corner, had mannequins in the windows in bridesmaids dresses in pink, blue, yellow, and mint green.
In those days, Easter meant new clothes for the children in the family. I had a 'Shortie' coat that was something like a swing coat would be today. It was powder blue and I wore it over a blue and gray plaid pleated skirt. I had patent leather shoes and purse and a blue wool derby. I felt very chic.
After Mass, we visited relatives - a holiday custom. We had breakfast at Aunt Mamie's, lunch with Aunt Louise and Uncle Joe, and everyone came to our house for ham and the trimmings. I remember feeling happy and secure in our family and loving everything about our very urban neighborhood and our lives in general.
By the following Easter, my sister had joined the Convent, my family was making plans to move to California, and I started my menstrual cycle. Everything in my world dialed up from childhood to preadolescence. Life was happy and good in California, but my sister had her own life now, and I had to learn to act like a lady (very important in those days. Now, happily, we graduate girls to acting like women rather than ladies.)
I promise not to end this with "Good night, John Boy," "Good night, Elizabeth." But I feel the nostalgia of that time like a pain today. After our wonderful blog about love lasting forever, I've thought all day about how much I loved my family and how much I miss them all the time, but some days I want to pound the doors of heaven and demand to see them! And it seems as though you ought to be able to do such a thing on Easter Sunday.
Wish all of you a wonderful holiday!
Lovely post, Muriel. I have many wonderful memories of Easter. Easter always feels like the end of the datk, dreary, winter months to me. We always got new clothes and this year my husband and i are hosting about 12 people for lunch at our home and yesterday I bought a new outfit lol. It just wouldn't feel like Easter without a pale pastel colored sweater lol.ReplyDelete
Happy Easter to you and your family.
I wish you the same, Jen! Have a wonderful lunch.Delete
I loved the story. I remember my blue swing coat, too, and feeling bad because I never once got a new hat. Happy Easter to all. He lives!ReplyDelete
Maybe you had to be Catholic to get a new hat every season. In the old days, you couldn't go into church without it. Happy Easter to you, Liz!Delete
You need to write a story with this section. I want to see more of this town asnd people. I always got a new dress for Easter, too. I don't know what color my shorty was because the photo is black and white, and I was such a tomboy that a DRESS and such didn't impress me. However, my little purse and patent leather shoes did.
I love purses! To this day, I can spend an hour picking out the right one. Of course, price limits me a lot. Beautiful as Coach purses are, I wouldn't spend that on something to keep my money IN, even if I had it. Hope you and your guys have a wonderful day!Delete
Muriel, lovely message for Good Friday. I wonder if kids today get new Easter clothes the way we did. My mother made dresses and coats for my sister and me. And Pam, the patent leather shoes and purses are a distant memory. I remember being excited when we got some that were not black or white but pastel. I sewed dresses for my girls and Denny's mom always made them the most beautiful coats. Because I worked full time by the time I had granddaughters, I always sent them "frills" at Easter. And I have to say only one of three is a "frilly" girl. Now like a dutiful grandmother I send the boys and girls money to get what they want. Times changes. Even traditions. But memories linger on thank goodness. Happy Easter to you allReplyDelete
Happy Easter to you, Roz! You'll be fine in April. Denny is at the banquet table.Delete
I love your post, Muriel! Your memories are so vivid they leapt off the page and into my heart! I can picture you in that special blue short coat and the lovely neighborhood you grew up in. I always got a chocolate cross at Easter and a special dress to wear to mass and relatives' houses. One holiday my sister reminded me of last night was how starting at noon today we all had to stay quiet in honor of Jesus and I understood why I always keep talking brief during this time- even to this day! Thank you for your sharing your beautiful memory. Happy Easter!!ReplyDelete
Karen - we did the same thing from noon to 3:00. I have a brother Matthew, who is four years older than I. (Complicated story for another time. I am the youngest of 14, my mother died when I was four months old, and all the kids were distributed among the older children who were already married, and other relatives. My sister Lorraine and I went to live with our aunt and uncle - the parents I describe.) Anyway - Matt lived with my older sister Rita, and I usually spent days off from school with them because my mother worked. Matt always, always found a way to make us laugh during this silent time. One time he fell in the space between the hassoc (hassok?) and the chair while trying to settle down to read something spiritual. I know he did it deliberately, but grew up to be a wonderful and devout man who died much too young at 63. It's very hard for me to be quiet,(or concise, as you can see) but I did try.ReplyDelete
Muriel, these are some beautiful memories. Thank you for sharing!ReplyDelete
Growing up, we got new dresses and "Sunday" shoes for Easter. I have a picture of my two sisters and I sitting on the front porch before leaving for Easter services in our new dresses (often made by my mom) and wearing white straw hats with silk flowers pasted on them. I also remember one Easter that I spent in Charleston with my grandparents visiting family and going to a sunrise service at the zoo. Talk about a different service when you could hear the elephants trumpeting and monkeys chattering while celebrating the Resurrection!
Happy Easter, everyone!
That is unusual, but as an animal lover, I can see the benefits! He made them as well as us, so why not let the animals worship, too?ReplyDelete
I can imagine you and your sisters on the front porch. I always got my kids ready then sat them on a bench near the front door with a "Do not move!" order until Ron and I were ready. Otherwise, they were dirty and rumpled in a heartbeat! Happy Easter, Syndi!