I stepped from Plank to Plank
A slow and cautious way
The Stars about my Head I felt
About my feet the Sea.

I knew not but the next
Would be my final inch -
This gave me that precarious Gait
Some call Experience.

Emily Dickinson, c. 1864

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Easter 2014

Norma Jean and Jan in Easter finery
Last night I thought about this Easter post, and this picture kept popping into my mind. After a quick search in my archives, I found it. Daddy took it decades ago in Kodachrome, and it was shown at home in one of those old Carousel slide projectors for years. I think it was my sister Norma Jean's husband who eventually scanned the old photo.

I just spent a few minutes looking to see if I could find out what kind of car we are standing in front of, and I think it's an old Studebaker, looking at the grill and those two headlights, one on top of the other. You don't see cars like that any more. You can be sure there were no seat belts or car seats inside, no air bags or other safety features. Those didn't evolve for years after this picture was taken. I look to be about seven, and Norma Jean about five, so I suspect Mama was not in the picture because she had recently given birth to PJ, who was born in 1950. Or perhaps it was taken the year before, since we are in those pretty matching dresses and our hair had been curled and styled beautifully. Mama was busy creating our finery.

Daddy took the picture of his girls, in front of what must have been his pride and joy, that car. Our home is in the background, the old tar-paper covered building, which also places this picture on Travis Air Force Base, where Daddy was stationed and where we lived in these temporary shacks along with other enlisted military families. We eventually moved into a ranch home off base, and for some reason that home is one of the few that remains strong in my memory. But just the look of that old tar-paper shack brings back strong memories.

I cannot for the life of me remember why we dressed up at Easter. We didn't go to any church during my early life, although every year we got Easter baskets and new dresses. I do remember going into a church service as a family, once long ago, but I suspect we attended gatherings of other families and had an Easter egg hunt or something similar. I never knew what Easter was celebrated for, it just was another holiday.

It's been more than a half century since that picture was taken by my father. He died in 1979 at the age of 62. That was the year that I started working at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, which ended up being the job from which I would retire in 2008. Now it's 2014, and so much has happened since those two little girls stood in the sunshine, smiling at our daddy, proud and straight in their new Easter dresses.

Today I don't even own a dress. Today I will pull on a pair of pants and an old sweatshirt and will go out to talk to my plants in the garden, weed a little, and maybe go for a walk in the sunshine at a nearby park. I'll think of all those family members who are gone, all those dear friends who have passed into a place where I cannot visit.

Life goes on, change is inevitable, but you know, Easter will still come around once a year, to remind me that maybe, just maybe, we'll be together again. I no longer care for jelly bean eggs and chocolate bunnies, but I have learned about the promise of Easter. Be well, my dear blogging friends, and don't forget to hug your loved ones, if you can.


Anonymous said...

You and your sister look so pretty in that photo. I knew what Easter was about from an early age, because we kids were forced by Mom to attend Mass -- not only on Easter Sunday but also during the Holy Week preceding it. And we sometimes had an egg hunt at some relative's party. I recall dying eggs, too. Lots of fun.

The Broad said...

Your post has brought to mind many similar memories. We must me around the same age! My sister was 14 months younger than I and we were doted on by my grandmother who made all our clothes and dressed us the same for several years! Easter was a special time and always meant new shoes and dresses as well as a new Spring coat! What a great photo of you two, resplendent in your Easter finery.

Linda Reeder said...

For us "old" folks Easter Sunday morning is a time to reflect on past family celebrations. We used to have so many people around my Grandmother's and then my Mother's table for Easter dinner. Now we are down to the eight of us family who live locally, and my daughter is the hostess. But there will still be Easter baskets and egg hunts and jelly beans and chocolate, and Jill and the kids will go to church while Tom cooks the ham and I go for a morning walk. That's how I worship these days.
Enjoy your day. Celebrate spring and think on only fond memories.

Linda Myers said...

The Easter traditions and the finery are still with me, too.

At my church this morning everyone - men and women - has been asked to wear a hat, in memory of an older woman, recently deceased, who always wore one. I'll do that! We're all in this together.

Enjoy your garden today, my friend.

Elephant's Child said...

Cyber hugs to you dear Jan. You have a home in my heart.

Arkansas Patti said...

Aw, you and your sister were adorable and obviously so proud in your new dresses.
I do that too when I think back and realize everyone is now gone. We are at the head of the class these days.

amanda said...

That photo is a treasure, I enjoyed you sharing more about it, it's background, and the thoughts that flow from it. Happy Easter, DJan!

Joyful said...

I loved your beautiful, poignant post. Like you Easter is a time of remembrance for me of the promise to come. I think a lot about those olden times too and people who have gone on before me. I love you and your sister in your dressed up finery and the Studebaker is so beautiful too.

Nancy/BLissed-Out Grandma said...

We always had new spring dresses for Easter, but it nearly always was so cold we had to wear winter coats over them. We used to get together with one of my brothers and his wife for Easter dinner, but when they divorced that ended. And this year we decided not to get candy for the grandkids. So our one last tradition is eating ham, which Peter is cooking right now. :) Happy Easter and Happy Spring.

Red said...

Since our numbers are getting big, we can easily look back over 50 years and a lot has happened in those years. We have to look at the good like the picture of you and your sister.

Far Side of Fifty said...

What a wonderful old photo! Perhaps there was an Easter Egg hunt on the base. I may have missed three or four Easter services over the years. We worshiped this morning with our daughter, son in law and grandsons.
God's Peace and Joy to you dear DJan on this Easter day! If not before I will meet you in heaven I am sure of it! :)

Trish and Rob MacGregor said...

Memories sustain us, gives us a sense of our own history. Yours are powerful.

Dee said...

Dear DJan, thanks so much for sharing this photograph and for reminiscing about Easter when you and Norma Jean were children. When money was tight Mom didn't buy me a new Easter dress, but she always somehow found the money for an Easter bonnet. We attended St. Mary's Catholic Church in Independence and at that time, females wore hats at Mass. So a new straw bonnet was essential.

Like you, I don't own a dress or even a skirt--all I wear are slacks, jeans, or shorts. But unlike you, I still have a taste for candy, especially Russell Stover's coconut and almost Easter eggs. Yum! Yum! Peace.

Rita said...

You girls looked so pretty all decked out for Easter with your baskets! My mom used to set my sister and my straight hair with pin curls and we'd look all curly topped like you two! And I don't own a dress, either. ;)

Midlife Roadtripper said...

This is a lovely post. Enjoyed it.
I, too, have several photos of me standing on the doorstep, squinting into the sun, in my new Easter clothes. Seemed the time of year when I got a new slip and it was crisp and itchy.

Stella Jones said...

That's a lovely picture D-Jan and says a lot about your family and how well cared for you all were - even though there were so many. I love to see your old photos. It is very nice to escape back into that simpler time, although it didn't feel simpler then, I'm sure.
Perhaps you should treat yourself to a new dress now?