Craig Allen’s childhood Easter memories
Happy Easter (if appropriate to you).
As I entertain on-air and online, my thoughts turn to Easter gone by.
All through my childhood, Easter meant heading to church early, dressed in your "Easter Best."
Easter baskets...and a candy coma.
And, lastly, a BIG family dinner.
Norman Rockwell could have painted a picture of my family.
Imagine getting four small kids out of bed all-too-early on a Sunday morning, getting them into their new, clean Sunday clothes...and then rushing to the "Easter Sunrise Service." No, that isn't a "cute" title...but a special church service that actually started at sunrise.
After the service, we little ones couldn't wait to get home so that we could get our Easter goodies.
The Easter Bunny was always good to us.
In my mind's eye, I can still see us four kids scampering around the backyard, in search of our baskets. Mine might be hidden in the woodpile (seriously). Under a tree. High up in the tree. In the bushes.
Invariably, you'd find someone else's basket bounty before yours.
Jelly beans....the chocolate eggs and a chocolate bunny (I'm an admitted "chocoholic"). Sometimes a small plastic toy or a book. Maybe a dollar or two.
In later years, I can remember a favorite "45" single sitting alongside the candy, atop the plastic, colored "grass" in the basket (around the time of the above photo).
And, there was always something that was handmade, with an encouraging, personal note, or appropriate funny story.
Our Easter Bunny was super-personal and super-talented.
So, "hopped" up on sweets (it's an Easter Bunny joke), we would all pile into the "family truckster," and trek to my Aunt & Uncle's place in suburban Philadelphia for a huge feast (just like on Thanksgiving Day, but that's another story).
After the about-2-hour drive, we'd pull up to the house...still-scrubbed faces...wearing our new Easter best.
One year's "best" sticks out in my memory.
You need to know that when I was little, my mom was quite the seamstress. She would MAKE our Easter clothes. In the days approaching Easter, one could hear the sewing machine whirring late into the night (I had a hard time sleeping even then).
I vividly remember the "Easter Suit" that mom made when I was 8 or 9. The blazer was an off-white, with a yellow and green "square" pattern, complete with big brass buttons, and matching pants (C'mon, it was the "mod" 1970's).
I wore my new suit ALL DAY...although it was a bit...uncomfortable. Mom later admitted that she had (probably) made a mistake by not washing the starchy, stiff material before sewing.
Like I said, Rockwell-ian.
Those Philadelphia Easter gatherings lasted into my college years (although I was a thousand miles away in Wisconsin, and unable to attend)...
...but eventually fell by the wayside as all of us "kids" earned our sheepskins, and splintered off into our own lives.
As the oldest "kid," one family Easter tradition lived on well into my 20's, after my return to New Jersey:
No matter where we were, or what we had planned for Easter, the four of us "kids" came home to search the backyard for our Easter baskets. At the time, it felt a little "silly." Let's face it, at that age, you're "too cool" for "kid stuff."
Now, I look back on the practice as the last vestige of a great childhood in New Jersey.
Sure, the candy and the baskets are long gone..but ONE gift from the "Easter Bunny" lives on:
It is this crocheted "Oreo."
A carefully folded note was stuck in an opening at the top of the Oreo...and it says:
"Evan says: A fellow was talking to his buddy and said he'd had a radio announcer as a friend once, and they enjoyed hiking together, but there was one problem. He could never hear him when they went under bridges."
It ALL ties together.
"Evan" is my Philadelphia Uncle, a guy who always had a great story to share...the note was in the Oreo in the basket all those years ago...and the bunny's note references my life's passion: RADIO.
By the way, on FM, we "announcers" don't fade under bridges.
And, as Uncle Evan did, I go on long walks on pleasant days, when I have the time.
(this classic commercial still makes me laugh)