Fremont County, Iowa

Remembering Easter

View from the Attic ~ A Weekly Series
Fremont County Historical Society
April 13, 2013

The Easter season is upon us and I am reminded of earlier Easter services and Sunday School at the Madison Methodist Church, a rural country church located about 8-9 miles east of Hamburg. The youth choir sang for this special service as it did for many church services.

We practiced in the church basement with our choir leader, Mrs. Robert (Evelyn) Birkby. She had the most "amazing machine." It looked like a wooden rectangular shaped box. She would open the ends and then the other sides and part of it came up (I'm watching her every move) and it magically became a portable pump organ. It was so neat and I often wonder where it is today,

The church looked so beautiful on Easter Sunday. The ladies had it sparkling clean and lilies decorated the sanctuary. There were more people there than usual and after we sang Mrs. Birkby made us feel like we had done a great job.

In Sunday School we heard stories about Jesus, were told to "Love One Another" and to remember that people with a different skin color are just like us on the inside. You may think that is a funny thing to say but remember this is the early 1950's. Things were so different we can hardly imagine.

Sometimes on Saturday nights my family went to the neighbors to watch television. Mostly we watched wrestling on a small black and white screen. Remember Vern Gagne and Gorgeous George? We also watched the commercials and remembered the jingles. One Sunday on the way to church, my mother laughed as my sisters and I sang, "From the land of sky blue waters, Hamms, the beer refreshing, Hamms."

Our Easter party at Sedgwick country school was always fun. Our teacher, Mrs. George (Elizabeth) Leckenby asked us to each bring six boiled eggs to school. She then mixed up food coloring with hot water in cups and added a little vinegar which I thought smelled good. We didn't have any stencils, magic pens, or anything fancy to decorate them, just pure color. I loved to color eggs; stirring them to get just the color I wanted. We also marked our eggs with our initials.

We were then ready for our Easter egg hunt. Mrs. Lectenby put all of the eggs in a white enamel dish pan, pulled all of the shades down in the schoolhouse and told us not to leave our seats or peek out of the windows as she hid the eggs. We were instructed to only pick up the eggs with our initials on them and if we spotted another to just leave it. . Do you think we minded her? Of course, we loved Mrs. Leckenby.

The Easter bunny visited my house and left those brightly colored candy eggs with a white filling and jelly beans. All of our bedrooms were upstairs and my parents room had a floral patterned linoleum on the floor. Once on Easter I noticed for the first time there were small marks or tiny scratches in one area of this flooring. I was sure they were Easter bunny tracks. Yes, I had a vivid imagination. Still do.

Easter Remembrances
by Daisy Malcolm

Easter was a magical time for my large family. Spring time was a season of rebirth on the farm. The fuzzy little yellow chicks being kept warm in our kitchen were a reminder of that as was the bunny that my younger sister brought into the house with her on Easter Sunday.

The holiday was a joyous time, especially since we had a vacation from school. On Saturday, Mom would boil dozens of eggs, and we would dye them all, dunking them into mugs of brightly colored water. We'd transfer pictures from kits, and each person in the family had one special egg with his or her name on it.

On Sunday we'd go to church in Thurman where we kids would present a program complete with songs or skits. The women and most of the girls were wearing new clothes, including hats and gloves for the mothers. My sisters and I would wear the best we had, but we were a family with 10 children, ours weren't new. The Easter sermon always presented the same story of death and resurrection, but no matter how many times I heard it, I was always touched spiritually, and my faith was reborn.

After the service we'd change from our Sunday best before our all-family egg hunt. Each member took part, and nobody complained about the activity. Our property had a front lawn plus a higher hill area, the two sections separated by a rock wall. The kids had their eggs hidden on the lawn area, either in plain sight or in more obscure locations depending upon the age of the child. A favorite hiding places each year was a hollowed-out crack in a huge tree where occasionally an errant egg would hide until it was found later because of its odor.

Mom was always the one hiding the eggs for the hunt. She was a master at finding nooks and crannies for those hidden treasures, discovering the best spots to hide them for each child. For the adults who had to hunt up on the hill, however, she was especially amazing. At just over five feet tall, how she ever hid those eggs in the upper branches of the trees was miraculous to us. It seemed that if one of her offspring had been mischievous recently, his or her special egg adorned with the culprit's name would magically be at the top branch of the highest tree to be found before ending the hunt.

Then we'd all go inside for dinner, occasionally with a ham, but more often we ate the older relatives of those cute baby chicks. Mom had scalded and plucked the feathers from their bodies the day before then fried their cut-up pieces in two electric skillets that day. Mashed potatoes and gravy, a wide variety of other vegetables plus pie made a wonderful meal for all of us. She really was amazing-creating an egg hunt that interested all ages of participants, steering us in our religious exploration at church and feeding us all with a huge feast.

As I said before, Easter was a magical time, and that spring holiday each year brought our huge family together even more with games, religion and sustenance.

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