Easter eggs on the farm? Why sure – Fresh eggs from Aunt Sue’s chicken pen, popped into her kettle of water brought to a boil in the kitchen. And then in short order, eggs cooling on the counter soon ready for us to paint. With paint wands made of little wisps of cotton wrapped around tooth-picks, my sisters and I with all the other little cousins make squiggly lines, circles and scallop shapes on the curvy shells, filling them in with rainbow colors. Sometimes we even add little bunny or flower stickers. But all that artistry happens after devouring the Easter ham.
Grandma Longenecker’s sister Aunt Sue Martin, who never married, lived on the farm and took care of Great-Grandpa Sam after his wife Mary died. I’m about six now, and Easter dinner is celebrated around the table at the old home place in Dauphin County close to Middletown, PA. Families of Uncle Joe, Uncle Frank, and Grandma surround the table laden with ham, turkey, home-preserved vegetables, and finally desserts. The clucking of chickens and a few dog barks offer background sound to the talk, usually about politics and family matters. Before or after the meal, Aunt Sue, actually my great aunt, feeds her other hungry brood, here with my sister Janice.
Women learn early that anything that is alive is a potential and probable responsibility.
Phyllis Tickle, The Graces We Remember: Sacred Days of Ordinary Time (61)
After the drowse-inducing pies and puddings, it is picture posing time. Aunt Ruthie with her new-fangled movie camera captures various relatives posing on the porch.
And then we play some more. Make up our own fun. Just the collie dog, a wagon, and the wide open meadows down by the creek are all it takes to keep us happy!
Do your Easter memories include attending a church service? Eating a meal with relatives? Painting eggs? Hunting for Easter eggs?
What do you think of the quote by author Phyllis Tickle?
\”Boneless chicken indeed.\” 🙂 I had not considered how much individual eggs would cost buying them in dozens as I do. We spent many an Easter at the farm. First we went to church while the roast or ham cooked in the oven. With my mother-in-law and I in the kitchen we quickly made up the other dishes: green beans from the garden, squash, salad, melon (perhaps strawberries) and always black-eyed peas. Before the girls could change clothes for the Easter egg hunt, my husband and father-in-law whisked them away to country roads to spy bluebonnets and other wildflowers to get their picture taken among them. That and the Easter egg hunt gave us just enough time to get Easter dinner on the table.
With all of your colorful details, I can visualize the scene, Georgette. I think it was too early in March or April for garden vegetables, so our side dishes were probably canned – as in jars in the cellar, no tin cans, which the older cooks in my family frowned upon. Thanks for commenting again today!
My MIL always had a garden for every season which amazed me, especially the \”fall\” and \”winter\” garden. I have to ask our neighbor across the road exactly what she planted in the \”fall\” and \”winter\” garden. Just asked my husband. He filled in beets, cabbage, broccoli and cauliflower. Still, I\’m going to ask our neighbor, too.
Boneless chicken…too funny. I recall the Paas and the smell of vinegar that permeated everything for days. We don\’t color eggs the same messy way anymore. I miss that. It was part of the fun. Our grand kids get the plastic ones and fill them with candy and money. (NO chocolate…it melts in the sun.)
Only a Floridian would say, \”No chocolate . . . it melts in the sun\”! Yes, sights and smells – the way me remember!
Marian, my dad raised chickens, so we had only BROWN eggs to paint for Easter, absolutely no fun to paint brown eggs. Don\’t what chickens we had that laid brown eggs, my brother would know. smile
The breed does matter if you want white eggs, I suppose. My egg gathering was pretty much limited to helping Betty Rutt on the LeRoy Rutt farm the summer she was expecting her twins. Love the comment, Kathy. Well, maybe it\’s a lament.
My mother always bought two dozen white eggs, just for Easter eggs. We did dye them but we also used another technique….She would get out her electric skillet and we would get out our bag of broken crayons we had saved over the year. We would peel them and make sure the scuzzy ends were cut off. Then we put them in to little square boats of aluminum foil , like colors together , and set to melting them in the warm skillet. The rest of her supplies that she kept just for this were a box of cotton swabs, several unused pencils that had an eraser on the end and stick pins with the balls on the end (quilting/basting pins). The pin were stuck into the erasers. We could either dip into the warm crayon and swirl on with the swab or dot on the wax to make more intricate designs or spell out words.
This was really good way to keep us busy for the day and I naturally continued the practice with my children. Every time I see an electric skillet my memory smells melted crayon. We have not done this for a few years. My youngest (20) has been experimenting with other methods of egg decoration the last few years.
My sister and I, when we were about 14 and 9 maybe, decided to each blow out a raw egg and decorate that, one a piece. We were going to save them forever…We cut some branches and arranged them in a vase and hung our most beautiful eggs on. She actually continued one egg a year for quite awhile and still has her collection. Mine were smashed years ago…sat on by a toddler.
The idea of blowing out raw eggs is fascinating–and enduring as an art form. Thank you for adding to the conversation, Athanasia.
Wait… Great Grandpa Sam? Sam Martin? Um… I\’ll have to check my geneologies, but I believe we\’re cousins… grew up in Maugansville/Greencastle/Chambersburg region…
Anywho, thanks for this! brings back memories of my days living with Grandma and Grandpa Martin on the farm in Maugansville.
Grandpa Samuel Brinser Martin (wife Mary Horst Martin) grew up in the Middletown, Pa area. They were not Mennonites but “Brinsers” a branch of the Brethren Church, plain people nonetheless. You can read more about him on an earlier post: Great Grandpa Sam: A Hoot and Holler http://plainandfancygirl.com/2013/10/23/great-grandpa-sam-a-hoot-and-a-holler/
Whether or not we are related, we probably share a similar heritage. Thanks for reading and commenting, Robert. Stop by again.
Our Easter has always been centered on family and Christ. The Easter Bunny never came to my house because my mom didn\’t want me to focus on getting something (I guess she just simply gave up fighting Santa Claus), but we did color dozens of eggs for the grand church hunt each year. I still remember the year I found the grand prize egg …
Yes, at our house too Christmas and Easter always had a focus on the spiritual aspect of the holiday: Christ\’s birth and then death and resurrection. I remember my mother would refrain from working between 1 – 3 p.m. on Good Friday, presumably the time Christ hung on the cross.
The grand prize egg . . . now I wonder, what did it look like? Inquiring minds are curious to know, Traci.
It was a large, plastic egg, the kind that had pantyhose in them, and it had five bucks in it. A veritable good mine for a third grader 🙂
Marian – Your video clips and photos are priceless additions to your posts!
We did, indeed, attend Easter service wearing new white gloves, shiny patent leather Mary Jane shoes, lace-trimmed white anklets turned down at the ankle, and a stiff little pill-box hat held securely in place by an elastic chin-strap. Then home to a huge meal that left everyone happily comatose for hours!
I had forgotten about those elastic chin-straps. They choked us, but even March winds could not separate those fancy hats from the top of our heads. Your summary is probably duplicated in many other readers\’ histories. Thanks, Laurie.
I love your memories and photographs, Marian.
In relation to the quote from Phyllis Tickle I would add that, for many women, responsibility toward the life in one\’s own body often takes low priority on the list of responsibilities.
How insightful for you to point that out: \”the life in one\’s own body,\” a life given by God. Dolores, thank you for reading so thoughtfully and responding to the quote.
1) I think the quote is very true, like an extension of maternal instinct.
2) Easter was more likely to be at my paternal grandparents as the weather usually was good enough to travel, though we have had many snow covered Easters. In April even. We had snow yesterday, though it did not pile up, and snow is possible for tonight. Thanksgiving and Christmas we usually stayed home, which was my maternal great grandparents house, now my oldest daughter\’s house. Either place we had dozens of cousins (my mother is one of 10 and my father one of 8.) and plenty of farm and field to roam. The meals were always large with ham and turkey at Easter and many side dishes of home canned food like pickles, corn relish, green beans and corn and whatever items were still left in the root cellar. So mashed potatoes and rosti and candied sweet potato and pumpkin pie, apple pie. Also usually lemon meringue pie and custard pies.
Our traditions haven\’t changed, we still celebrate the same, though now everyone comes to us. My oldest and his soon to be wife and her parents have joined us for just about everything since they first met. My oldest girl and her husband are able to split each holiday as his family is all just the next town over…they are both young and skinny and able to manage two meals a day and don\’t want to miss out on either get together.
Let\’s see, there was and always will be church on Easter Sunday…we girls would all get a new dress sewn by my grandmother or mother, always the same pattern though we would pick the fabric. It was our new summer dress for church though we often would have to wear a cardigan sweater over it, and a coat. We usually had tie shoes not the patent kind. Or the kind with the t strap. Buster Browns? And tights, not anklets. I remember getting a golden egg with a new pair of shoes. We did not have gloves or Easter bonnets. The boys would wear their new button up white shirts. My mother was somewhat of a rebel and had Easter baskets for us to find (hidden by the bunny , she said) after church, before we left to go to the relatives. Ever practical, there would be things like a toothbrush, hairbrush, bobby pins and hair bands, and new doll dress for the girls or a bag of loops to use on the potholder loom, jelly beans, a chocolate covered marshmallow egg and a foil wrapped hollow chocolate rabbit.
I still hide the baskets for the children. And if one comes across someone elses while looking they do not give hints or help.
You are good at including lots of detail, mixing facts and opinions, a good system. The T-strap shoe? Possibly Mary Janes. Thank you, Athanasia.
What precious memories – love the sign in the last shot.
The other photos are my own, including the blurry image of my sister and I on the farm + the video. However, the last shot of the eggs in a basket has been passed around and around in cyberspace. I\’m glad you enjoyed it though!
Your posts always make me think!
I don\’t celebrate Easter, but when our daughters were little they loved to dye Easter eggs with my mother-in-law, and we would hide the plastic eggs for them there and have little Easter baskets with candy and little toys (oh, and of course, I\’d put a new toothbrush in, too:). My mother-in-law would make a cake shaped like the Easter Bunny for them, too. They loved it!
The photo of you and your sister reminds me of my girls because they could always make toys from whatever they had on hand–dolls from seashells, chopsticks, magazines–and had the most imaginative games ever.
I think the quote is an accurate representation of many women\’s lives throughout history, but of course, it does not apply to all women.
Merril, I am so honored that you believe my posts always make you think. I take that as high praise from a reader whom I regard as a scholar in her own right.
You tucked a new toothbrush into your daughters\’ Easter baskets–I love that, a useful item among the sweet treats. And about the quote: I hope the line from Tickle does not apply in your case, strong woman that you are–ha! Alas, historically though it is probably true.
Thank you for your kind words and praise, Marian! I\’m honored.
Women generally are the caretakers. I guess that can be good and/or bad.
Marian … Your photo of the boneless chicken is hysterical. Thanks for the memories which, fortunately, our family continues to share on Easter. My husband joins me for sunrise service mass. My eldest daughter and her family have their own service beachside as they watch the sun rise not far from our home.
We use markers to color the eggs – drawing characters on them. Then we have dinner together.
Wishing you and yours a very happy Easter.
The boneless chicken photo has been passed around online a lot, but I thought it deserves a place of honor (!) on my blog. I love that you have Easter traditions. I\’m guessing your egg-coloring characters make for great conversation around the table. In the shifting sands of modern life, it\’s reassuring to have rituals firmly in place as we do also: Easter service followed by a big family meal.