I am always reminded on this day of two special Easter memories.
Back in the days when the Easter Parade on the Boardwalk was still something really special, my Grandparents invited me to go to Atlantic City with them for Easter 1966. I had my very first pair of high heels, in reality 1/2 inch kitten heels, but I was so thrilled with them that the chance to stroll the Boardwalk in them was irresistible! Unfortunately, the width of those little heels was narrower than the opening between the planks of the Boardwalk, so I spent much of the day tripping. Totally turned me off from the idea of the Easter Parade! We did stop for dinner at a lovely little place hidden in the Pinelands called the Sweetwater Casino. I'm not sure where that name came from as it was years before Atlantic City even thought of opening casinos, but it was a rustic gem hidden in the woods, overlooking a small lake. Many years later my husband and I had a wonderful dinner there and we were saddened when the Sweetwater was destroyed by fire a few years ago.
Another strong and poignant Easter memory is from 1976. My Grandmother was terminally ill, and had last been out of bed for Christmas dinner. She was in a hospital bed in a small room that we called the "back room" as, at 8' x 10', it was far too small to warrant a fancy name like family room.
My Gran had a large family- 6 children and almost 40 grandchildren. It seemed that Easter that all of them came to visit. It started pretty early in the day and the stream of company just continued non-stop until almost dinner time. By 2pm I was making my third store run for coffee, pastry and deli food for sandwiches.
Isn't it funny how some things stick in your mind? One of my cousins arrived as I was leaving for that third store run, wearing the proper hat, spring suit and white gloves. I opened the door to her, to be greeted with " it's Easter- one would think you could at least dress up today!".
Yes, I still remember. I had already run the dishwasher twice and it was almost full again. My mother was kept totally occupied talking to each family member about how Gran was doing so the "entertaining" of the company fell to me. So I made sandwiches, went through 3 pounds of coffee, and was constantly putting out fresh pastry and more plates and napkins.
And the punch line to this story? Why was I, at 2pm on Easter Sunday, in cut-off jeans shorts and a tee-shirt? Because Easter Sunday 1976 is famous for it's heat wave!! It was 93 in Philadelphia that day!
The epilogue to this story occurs two months later when Gran died. She had been through a terrible time and we were happy for her that her pain and suffering were over. My family was all there with her as she breathed her last. Some of my aunts, uncles, and cousins were also there. The funeral was 3 days later. I remember clearly that I never cried; there was no reason. I had many happy memories and the consolation and joy that I had spent her last months with her on a daily basis. I had done my very best for her and there was nothing to regret.
Most of my other 58 Easters are vague memories, if remembered at all, but 1966 and 1976 are still with me and always will be.
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