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 in
Our Easter outfits would include:
a spring coat,
matching Easter bonnets,
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
(We still “line up” to this day, 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
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 click 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,
very, very popular and she was gorgeous.
Everything I wanted to be when I grew up.
She had a bubbly personality and
a way of making you do anything.
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,
trying to carry a 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 said to her,
“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!”
Well 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 the other hand.
Over the years,
Easter slowly changed for us,
our parents passed away,
way to soon,
we lost our beloved sister Jan,
at the young age of 22.
My sisters and I grew up,
had kids of our own and
for a few of us,
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 and
who’s bringing what.
Easter baskets overflowed with;
Cadbury cream eggs,
solid Easter bunnies,
jelly belly beans,
Reese’s peanut butter eggs,
small solid chocolate eggs,
speckled malted milk ball eggs and
a large fudge Easter egg with their name written on it.
One constant that remained the same when they were young,
was the family gathering on Easter Sunday following Easter Mass.
Easter Dinner would always include:
pineapple slices and cherries
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
Even the Easter meal has changed….
now opting for Easter brunch or an Easter dinner,
restaurant style or one cooked on the grill.
Wishing Everyone a Happy Easter~