April 2 – Valentine’s Day brought a special problem to Ma since she had very little to buy anything extra, even little things. However, she would take some of her egg money and go to the five-and-ten to buy us valentines to give out in school so that we would not have to be different. I can see her yet, coming home and laying out the pile of cards, then doling them out to each of us, one by one. There were small, inexpensive ones, two or three middle class ones, and one special one for our teacher. But each of us had enough to take to school the next day to give to our special friends so we wouldn’t feel left out of the activities.
Easter brought us colorful eggs, some dipped in the boiling water in which onion skins had been simmered, others in that in which beets had been boiled. This gave us the choices of delicate yellow-brown or deep red or pink colored eggs, depending on the length of time the eggs would be kept in the water. Some years Ma would manage to squeeze out enough money to buy real dyes that would turn out green, orange, yellow, red, and blue eggs. They also came with paper transfers of cartoon characters that could be put on after the color had set, but while the egg was still warm. I would hold the transfer on the egg, wrap a wet cloth around it, and hold it tight until it had time “to take”.
One year we had the great good fortune to have a new-fangled coloring fork. This fork would be drawn back and forth through the boiling water, leaving streaks of rainbow colors rippling through it The eggs dipped into the water would come out with wavy, vari-colored lines in an all-over design. A shoe box was filled with fake straw cut either from newspapers or magazines for the bottom layer. Then the store-bought green, purple, or yellow straw was piled loosely on top to give the illusion of thick straw, just the right resting place for those beautifully colored eggs and delicious jelly beans, two or three small chocolate rabbits and a few fruit or marshmallow eggs. One year when I was very young, each of us was given a whistle that gave out a gurgling sound when the top part was moved up and down quickly.
As at every other holiday, Ma made the best of what she had, and we never knew that by today’s standards of material things and affluence, we were “deprived.” Her love and concern shown for us all through the year was climaxed by real family togetherness on holidays. – CHRIS