Tri-City Ledger -

By Earline Smith Crews
Guest Writer 

Easter time brings out the 'happy' in people


April 18, 2019

My earliest memory of Easter had to be around the time I was about two/three years old.

I have a vivid memory of watching my older siblings look for eggs around the grass clumps, little trees and washes in the red clay of a dirt pit near Cowpen Creek outside Canoe Alabama.

Our family lived on third avenue in Atmore so this was a trip out of town for us, the distance of about ten miles.

I know this was the place because Mama and Daddy told me they brought us here to swim and play in the water at Cowpen Creek. They said, as a baby, I loved to sit in the clear water and splash. Mama said I would bend down to try catching the water with my tongue and get strangled but never frightened. They said the clay pit was offset to the creek where we had our Easter egg hunt.

I can't remember hunting the eggs myself, but I remember how happy everybody seemed.

A moment in time like that doesn't have to be an hour or a day memory, but happiness like that will last for me until my last breath.

My next happy memory of Easter is watching as Mama sewed new dresses for my sister and I. For many years we wore new dresses for Easter. My sister got a blue one and I got a pink one, Dotted Swiss. I think Mama wanted her girls to shine and show our best features with the color of our dresses. My sister has blue eyes which are startling on many members of the Smith side. My eyes are brown and maybe Mama hoped the pink would draw attention to her hoped for feminine side for me. Being born a tomboy she tried hard and failed so miserably in her efforts for me. What Mama didn't know was how pretty those dresses made me feel when our town cousins showed up with frilly store bought dresses. Once a year I didn't feel like a second hand Martha White flour sack model.

Actually my dress was store bought because Mama bought the pattern, the thread, the lace and rickrack to sew onto the Dotted Swiss cloth for my beautiful Easter dress from Bowabs Department Store in Atmore.

To add icing on my cake so to speak, I also got new Mary Janes with a pair of silky socks. I never knew the shoes were known as Mary Janes until a town cousin remarked that she didn't want Mary Janes that year, but got Roman Sandals after a loud fight with her Mama.

I asked what Mary Janes looked like. Town cousin snorted out, "Those you are wearing Earline".

Who knew? I always called them "Padding Leathers".

Black and shiny like Clyde Hawkins six hole Buick. I kept them clean of dust with polishing them with the soft insides of a biscuit and safe by placing them underneath the edge of our bed.

I would take them out of the tissue they were wrapped in inside the Buster Brown box to hold them to my nose and inhale the wonderful smell of new shoes.

That shoebox was a "twofer" in my world. It held new Easter shoes. Then Mama converted it into the most beautiful Easter Basket this side of Elmore's 5 & Dime. Wrapped it in green tissue paper saved from Christmas, layered it with fine wood shavings from Washington State Delicious apples shipping boxes. A strap handle made from cut strips of the lid, the design idea Mama got right out of the Progressive Farmer magazine. Just like cooking recipes and dress patterns, Progressive Farmer magazine gave us country folk some classy ideas. We put our beautiful Easter eggs into our homemade baskets on Easter morning to await the big hunt after church service and dinner on the ground.

As much as I hate wearing shoes, even today, I had heart flutters when I got new " padding leathers" for Easter.

I knew with absoulate certainty those shoes would give me water blisters on my heels, but as Mama said,

"Beauty is earned with hurt missy".

Mama kept the old Singer peddle working as she sewed our dresses. Finished and approved with longing, they hung wire hanger racked on a nail in the wall above our bed until Easter morning.

I remember looking up from the bed at my dress as my eyelids were forced closed in sleep to give me dreams of wearing my beautiful pink Dotted Swiss dress.

FINALLY Easter morning came with the smells of breakfast cooking and sounds of extra banging of pots and pans. Mama was doing double duty this morning as our family would be at church all day for Easter service and dinner on the grounds with egg hunts all afternoon.

Caanan Freewill Baptist Church celebrated the Resurection of our Lord with the children doing a play about the story of Jesus and the empty tomb. I had a hard time trying to focus on my part and remember when I was suppose to speak.

Daddy threatened me for days before that I better, "learn that verse Earline".

We had Smith and Grissett family that came back to the "old home church" to celebrate Easter and dinner on the ground.

My heart skipped at the thought of seeing town cousins, then did a lurched at the thought of some snarky comments about, "country people".

Oh well, agony and ecstasy.

Agony of heel water blisters and ecstasy of my beautiful dress, padding leathers and banana pudding and................... Town Cousins.

Easter was new dresses, new padding leather shoes that let my socks slide into the toe which allowed my heels to accept raised water blisters, all the delicious food I could hold and especially Mama's banana pudding and a big slice of coconut cake topped with maraschino cherries.

Mama had saved up extra eggs all week so we could dye some for school egg hunts on Good Friday and more for the egg hunts at church and back home to do more hunts with Town Cousins until the slant of the sun sent them back across Sardine Creek towards Atmore.

Easter always made me happy and a bit sad at the same time.

With time came the knowledge of Easter.

This story shows my memory of a blessed childhood lived in heaven on earth.......

Easter gives me the promise of eternity lived in Heaven.


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