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Where I’m From
by Jim Allen

Easter Memories

 I think most people have heartwarming memories to share of Easter and the story of suffering and resurrection that it brings. We recollect relatives eating elbow to elbow around the dinner table, the special suit or dress you got for Sunday School that made you shine like a new penny, finding brightly colored eggs hidden under spring flowers or even being lucky enough to chance upon the coveted golden egg!

Many of your local Co-op stores will be offering dyed and natural colored chicks during the Easter season. Most anybody who has had the privilege of being reared in the country has seen these chicks grow to maturity and eventually have chicks of their own. We had a couple of them that would sit in our laps to have their heads scratched. However, I never did find one that could be house broke.

Does anybody remember the poem about getting a big chocolate rabbit for Easter? In the verse the person ate the rabbit’s ears on Sunday, nose on Monday, feet on Tuesday, etc. until, by the end of the week, the critter was pretty much done for. Many years ago, we got one of those 16 oz. beauties, molded to look like he was wearing a tuxedo, for our daughter. It came in a box with a clear plastic window. Before sunrise service that Easter morning, my wife hid about a dozen eggs in the yard and leaned the box holding the bunny on a tree trunk where it could be easily found. Two hours later my daughter found what was left of the bunny. The sun had come up, shown through the plastic window and, as if it had been hit with a surgical laser, clipped the rabbit off at about mid-thigh. We dipped some cookies in the chocolate goo at the bottom of the box and all was well.

Back where I’m from, on the Saturday night before Easter we helped our mother dye eggs for the Easter bunny to hide the next day. It was just as much a mystery to us why the bunny couldn’t come up with his own eggs as it was why the Santa who hung out at Sears the weeks before Christmas drove a car instead of a flying sleigh…it was secret stuff children just didn’t dare delve into. 

The next morning we went to Sunday School with our new Easter clothes and stained fingers from ‘helping’ the night before. Church followed where every female old enough to stand, and some babies, donned a flowery hat. Each hat came complete with swarming bees that had entered the windows as the church was being aired out the day before. I don’t remember anyone being stung. 

After church, we’d go to my maternal grandmother’s house for ham, fried chicken, beef roast and just about any country fixin’ you can think of. We’d then gang up with cousins and field laborers’ children who lived in the row houses on the adjacent plantation for an egg hunt that sometimes lasted until dark.

We were warned about getting too close to the row house privies. It seems that in an Easter egg hunt a generation earlier an older cousin had promised a younger cousin that the prize egg (and only plastic egg) with the silver dollar in it was just inside the vent tunnel in the back of one of the johnnys. As the child stretched to look under the structure to find the treasure…well, you can guess what happened. We were told that the older cousin, whose identity was never revealed, was never invited back to another Easter egg hunt. We suspected the culprit was in fact our uncle who was a good bit older than my mother but still lived there with his parents. He told us after lunch that the fried chicken was really the Easter bunny he had trapped after breakfast. Some people are just mean.

We had cousins from Memphis who never got to come to the country except when they came to see us for a wedding, a funeral, the Fourth of July or for the Easter egg hunt. It seems that they were the ones who met with the worst of what the farm had to offer. It was the father of this branch of the clan who, as a small child, had fallen headfirst into the latrine. 

His daughter, Evelyn, got into a yellow jackets’ nest during one egg hunt and tried to run through a barbed wire fence. I can remember her with her head in her mother’s lap, lying under the ceiling fan on the couch that had been pulled onto the porch for that particular family reunion. My grandfather was putting chewed tobacco on her stings, my mother was smearing salve on her barbed wire wounds and my aunt was picking dead yellow jackets out of her daughter’s long blonde hair. I’ve got a Polaroid of all of us kids smiling and laughing, holding up colored eggs, baskets and Easter chicks…and there she is, white gauze on her legs, swollen-eyed with her bottom lip all pooched out. 

Her kid sister, Meg, couldn’t have been much over six the first year we all got Easter chicks; those cute little balls of colored fur mentioned earlier. Meg vanished with hers and a little while later we heard her crying. She was found in the bathroom staring in the commode at a lifeless bright blue cotton ball with legs, floating there. She thought it was a duck. Years later, she’s the one who unwittingly exploded the discarded hens’ egg one of us had slipped into her basket. Another year she jumped out of the hayloft with an umbrella giving a very disappointing Mary Poppins impersonation. 

It took a double dog dare but we finally convinced their brother, Carl, who was my age, to catch one of my granddaddy’s Kelso game cocks. The birds were kept tethered to 55-gallon drums with one end removed and knocked on their sides to where they could serve as both perches and as shelters. We convinced Carl that if you sprinkled salt on the back of a chicken, or any bird for that matter, it would be rendered helpless as a kitten. It was absolutely some of the best sneaking up behind something we’d ever seen. Carl got to within two feet of Slasher (that was the name of the bird he chose) before startling the little feathered meat tenderizer. I’d never heard a sound come out of a human like that before. He danced around with that rooster latched to his head for as long as it took him to stumble further than the animal’s leg rope would allow. We all got a good whoopin’ out of that one but the show was worth it.

During this season of rebirth, enjoy your family and have fun! These are tomorrow’s memories.



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Date Last Updated January, 2006