LESLIE CRISS: Shoes, snapshots, searching for eggs: Memories of Easters past

“‘Welcome, happy morning!’ Age to age shall say …”

Venantius Fortunatus



A trip downtown to Walter’s Family Shoes just off the square in Grenada was a sure sign Easter was on its way.

Mama held the heavy door open. We entered, my little sister and I, with some trepidation.

Our toes trembled at the thought of an encounter with the owner’s wife. She was nice, but known for her attempts to assure many mamas that way–too–tight shoes were “the perfect fit.”

The owner, however, made the shoe shopping a little less painful. The man clucked like a chicken. And not just during the Easter season.

Strange? Yes. But with each cluck, our minds left, for a moment, the wiles of his shoe horn–wielding wife.

As Easter came closer, our recess romps at Lizzie Horn Elementary School took a turn, from Red Rover to Colored Eggs.

The rules of the chasing game have long left me, but it was yet another sign of the season.

With Easter near, preparation for the egg hunts began – buying and boiling eggs, then dyeing them rainbow colors. No pre–dyed store–bought eggs for us.

The hunt took the place of Sunday school at All Saints’. It was normally outside, but on several rainy Easter Sundays the hunt was moved inside the parish house.

Eggs were hidden; eggs were found – except, unfortunately, for a few of the better hidden ones. They were found later. Much later.

Easter meant family portraits in front of the azaleas. Mama and Daddy took turns as photographer; Beth and I squinted into the sun and winced from our “perfect fit” white patent leathers.

Atop our heads were pinned tatted doilies – back in the day when Episcopal women had to wear a head covering to church.

Have mercy.

Among the annual azalea moments captured in color, there’s a photo of my sister and me, still in our Easter finery. The hunt’s been had. We sit cross–legged in the grass, Easter baskets in our laps.

Beth eyes my eggs with envy. My basket runneth over; her hunt was not as fruitful.

Sitting beside her, I look all sweetness and light, but my thoughts were anything but: “These eggs are staying in one basket – mine.”

The surest sign of Easter, though, in my youth and now? The splendor of blossoming dogwood trees. Especially the two enormous ones across the street from the church of my childhood.

It was springtime. It was Easter.

Resurrection morning.