Happy Easter and Easter Memories
Happy Easter and Easter Memories
Happy Easter and Easter Memories. Today I’d like to share some of my childhood Easter memories. Easter was a very special time when I was growing up in the 1960’s. Easter, just wasn’t Easter, without a new Easter Outfit. Easter Baskets, Colored Eggs, Chocolate Rabbits and Marshmallow Bunnies took a back seat to your Easter Outfit.
I remember my mom would take us, my 4 sisters and myself, shopping each year to buy our new Easter outfits. Off we’d go to Robert Hall, Campbells, or Gloudeman’s Department Store, to look for, try on and purchase our new Easter outfits.
Downtown Appleton, WI
Robert Hall was located on East College Ave.
Our Easter outfits would include, a new spring coat, dress, anklets, matching Easter bonnets, white gloves, patent leather Mary Jane’s with a
matching Patent leather purse. All in pretty shades of pastels. The very first time we would wear our new outfits would be on Easter Sunday. Often times, it would be the last time we wore our Easter outfits. We would wear our new spring coats, shoes and anklets to school..
But our dresses would only be worn again in the summer in the event of a wedding. I can’t even imagine the chaos that went on in our house on Easter morning. After we had all picked out our Easter clothes, my mom would treat us to a late lunch at Luck Joy, a Chinese restaurant in downtown Appleton or we’d go to Kresge’s for a hamburger and fries. Boy, did we think we were special.
Luck Joy Restaurant
Downtown Appleton WI
Saturday morning and into Saturday evening would be filled with it’s own kind of chaos. Saturday morning would begin with house cleaning, then onto the washing and ironing. All of this took place during episodes of American Bandstand and Wide World of Sports. Our Easter outfits would hang from hangers high above on small hooks in the ceiling specially placed there by my mom.
This would ensure that our Easter outfits would stay clean and far away from our dog. China, glassware and linens would be inspected. Preparations would begin for Easter dinner. What could be prepared ahead of time, would be. Saturday evening would also bring the dreaded Toni home permanents, bubble baths would be next and an early bedtime with some of us having to try and sleep with picky curlers in our hair.
The morning would bring Easter basket hunting and best of all, Easter Outfit time! Five girls, ages 2-16 plus my mom all getting ready for Easter Sunday Mass. Pure chaos…and pure hell for my dad and little brother. My dad and brother would be waiting patiently on the front porch with that pained and tortured look on their faces. My dad smoking his Lucky’s and my brother looking uncomfortable in his sport coat and tie wishing this whole mess would soon end so he could change his clothes, look over his new marbles and eat his Easter candy.
Finally…it would be time to leave. We would all pile into the huge blue Ford Galaxie. My dad in the drivers seat..my younger brother next to him and
my mom in the passenger seat, with my baby sister on her lap. Us four girls sat in the back seat. Off to church we’d go….we would sit still in the back seat, careful not to “touch” each other….making sure not to get our new Easter outfits wrinkled.
In my family, for reasons still unbeknownst to me, we always sat or stood next to each other according to our ages…the oldest to the youngest. Mary, Barb, Jan, Lynn, Jim and Joan. To this day, we still “line up” in our birth order for pictures:) Being the youngest in the back seat of the car, I always sat next to my sister Jan..she was the “favorite” in our family, a fact no one seemed to mind.
Sitting next to Jan meant I always got blamed for “touching” her. It never failed…Jan would wail, “Mom, Lynn touched the ribbon on my new hat and
now my hair is all messed up!” My mom would yell over her shoulder to me…”Lynn, knock if off…or I’m going to knock your butt into next Tuesday!”
I was six years old at the time for crying out loud. We would continue onward to Church.
St Joesph Catholic Church
Are we there yet?
Finally, we would arrive at church. We belonged to St. Joesph’s Catholic Church. My three older sisters went to St. Joesph’s Catholic School and
all three got married there, years later. St. Joe’s Church had the longest aisle of any church in our city, so walking done the aisle was a big, big deal.
We usually sat in the same pew each week which was towards the front of the church. Most families in the parish sat in the same pew each week.
Walking down that aisle on Easter Sunday was like walking down the runway in an Easter Fashion Show. We made sure everyone was looking at our new outfits. Personally, I liked wearing shoes that made a click clack noise, shoes that echoed while I walked down the “runway” in that big, beautiful Church. St. Joesph’s Church still brings back so many memories for me…Memories of innocence and youthfulness.
My sister Jan was 5 years older than I was. She played the clarinet, was a cheerleader, on the pom pom squad, in the Theater group and was very, very popular. She was gorgeous too. She was everything I hoped to be when I grew up. She had a bubbly personality and a way of making you do anything. Every Saturday she had clarinet practice at St. Joe’s Catholic school. She would always invite me to go along with her…as long as I carried her clarinet.
We lived a little over a mile from St Joe’s and back then we still walked everywhere. For an eight year old, to walk a mile, one way, trying to carry a heavy clarinet, was no easy feat! But I did it…because that meant I could spend the day with her. I was afraid if I told her I didn’t want to carry her clarinet, she won’t ask me to go with her anymore.
One Saturday Jan said to me, “Are you ready to go with me to practice?” I turned toward her and said, “I’m not carrying your stupid clarinet anymore,
the only reason why you ask me to go with you is so that I can carry your clarinet, you can carry it yourself!” She burst out laughing and said “Come on, let’s go” My sister Jan was friends with Pam Bleier, her family owed a tavern in Appleton WI called “Bleier’s Bar”
The family lived above the bar. It was located across the street from St Joe’s Church, on the corner of Walnut Street. (Rocky Bleier played for the Pittsburgh Steelers in the late 1960’s) That Saturday, Jan and I walked with Pam the one block down the street to Bleier’s Bar. We went into the bar and we each had a little bottle of coke. That Saturday when we walked home, my sister Jan carried her clarinet in one hand and held my hand with her other hand.
Over the Years
Over the years, Easter slowly changed for us. Or parents passed away way to soon and we lost our beloved sister Jan at the young age of 22. My sisters and I grew up, we got married and had kids of our own. For a few of us, divorce we yet to come. When my children were young in the 1980’s, elaborate Easter outfits were replaced with “Sunday Clothes.” The focus became more on Easter candy and Easter dinner.
A Who’s Who really. Who’s having Easter dinner this year and who’s bringing what. Easter baskets overflowed with, Cadbury cream eggs, solid Easter bunnies, “jelly belly” jelly beans, Reese’s peanut butter eggs, small solid chocolate eggs, peeps, speckled malted milk ball eggs and a large fudge Easter egg with their name written on it. One constant that remained the same was the family gathering on Easter Sunday following Easter Mass.
Easter Dinner would always include, deviled eggs, ham with pineapple slices and cherries, cheesy potatoes, spring pea salad, hot cross buns and
carrot cake with cream cheese frosting During the the 80’s, table top Easter trees became the “in” thing. Trees that resembled pipe cleaners that had a wooden base and were decorated with miniature ornaments. Hmm, I wonder what ever happened to mine?Easter egg hunts became popular and
the Easter bunny started to show up at the Mall.
Now that we are grandparents, the woven style, straw Easter baskets have long been taken to the Goodwill. They have been replaced with the cloth style Easter baskets that are popular with our Grandchildren. Candy has been replace with sugar-free, nut-free, dye-free, allergy-free, all-natural candy. Even the Easter meal has changed….now opting for Easter brunch or an Easter dinner restaurant style or one cooked on the grill.