Sunday, March 31, 2013

Remembrances of Easters gone by


Actress, writer, and fellow Albany Patch blogger, Michele Strider, today shared a blog of hers from a couple of years ago, regarding her experiences with Easter and how, when she was growing up, she used to behead rabbits because she thought it was humane.

Don't freak out. She was talking about the chocolate variety…not the ones that go hippity hop across Mrs. McGregor's carrot patch. Same thing for Peeps apparently.

I commented about how I used to start on the tips of the ears and slowly work my way down the head, jokingly asking whether that was torture?

This got me thinking about Easter when I was growing up. Dare I say, a wee bit longer ago than Michele.

* * *

Maybe I'm just not looking at the right place. But, pretty much all the big chocolate bunnies they're selling these days seem to be made from hollow milk chocolate. Sure, there was the one oddball I saw at Safeway, which was six inches of solid milk chocolate (and tasted so good!!). But, that seemed to be a maverick.

Where have all the big bunnies gone that were filled with the delicious ooey gooey goodness like when I was a kid? They were enough to make you sick if you kept eating, and you knew that. But, you just couldn't help yourself!

One year I got one of those stuffed bunnies. I swear that thing must've been a full foot tall; every inch filled with fluffy goodness. Can we say, "SUGAR SHOCK?!?!?" 

Then there were those first Cadbury Eggs our parents bought us. I'm not talking about the industrial glop they pass off these days. I'm talking eggs filled with a smooth creamy filling more a kin to what you get inside a Milky way Bar.

It's probably not just my imagination. But, it just seems that the bulk processed candies made today just don't taste the same as back then.

Of course, See's Candies is still going strong. You're going to pay a price, and it's probably too expensive for most, except for the occasional holiday like Valentine's or Mother's Day.

Sadly, gone is Hooper's Chocolates, the long-time Oakland Chocolatier, in the pretty pink building on Telegraph Avenue. While the building is still there, it's now occupied by a couple of 20-something skateboarders, selling stuff far removed from what made the building famous.

* * *

Chocolate isn't the only thing I fondly think back to. Just like the children of today, my sister and I experienced many an Easter Egg hunt during our youth.

Back in the 1970s, one of my aunts lived about a half dozen blocks away and on sometimes we'd go over for a family get together.

Her kids were a few years older than us so they drew the chore of keeping us busy inside the house while the adults were busy in the backyard going about hiding hardboiled eggs all over her big yard.

They'd eventually come and get us, and we'd go wild looking for eggs. They had lots of succulents and leafy plants, and you had to look closely, or you'd easily miss your treasure.

Another hunt I look back on took place in the Richmond Annex's Central Park, virtually around the corner from where we grew up.

Parks & Rec had an official Easter Egg hunt one year. Older kids would hunt real eggs over on the baseball field. While, those of us who were younger, were stuck in a 20' x 20' sandy area, where they hid plastic wrapped candy eggs.

As I remember it, there were only a dozen, or so, of us running around. It was like shooting fish in a barrel. Everywhere you looked, the shiny candies stood out from the plain tan sand. We were all happily filling our little baskets, and it looked like we would all make it out with a big haul.

But then it happened!

I can't remember whether I ran into something, or tripped up in the sand. My haul of eggs went absolutely everywhere!! Kids being kids, the others turned on me like sharks after a wounded seal pup.

I wasn't physically hurt, but I was mentally scared from watching my sister and the kids across the street scoop up over half of what I'd previously had sitting in my basket.

Later on, I told my parents what had happened, and they coerced my sister into giving me back some of what she'd grabbed. But still, a pre-teen's feelings bruise easily. I've forgiven her over the years, but I still remember! <grin!>

* * *

Our mother used to love it when Easter came around every year, because she got to dye Easter Eggs with us. I'm not sure who got a bigger kick out it, her or us kids.

I think part of that stems from the fact that her parents were originally from Russia, and as is fairly well known, Russians and Ukrainians are World famous for their ornately decorated Easter Eggs.

I can still smell the hot water and vinegar used to liquefy the little Paas pellets. My favorite was the Robin's Egg Blue.

You would balance a hard-boiled egg on a wire hoop, before sinking it into the dye for 30-60 seconds. You'd then carefully lift the egg out, and let it dry.

If you wanted to get fancy, you could wrap the egg with twine, or drip hot wax over parts of it, before plunking it into some other color. Once you were satisfied with the dye job, you'd peel off the twine and wax to reveal your masterpiece.

I'm sure they really looked like a hot mess. But, to us kids they were real works of art.

In fact, I always wanted to keep mine in the fridge and look at them from time to time. Of course, being hard boiled eggs, they didn't last, and eventually started stinking up the refrigerator something awful.

Nowadays, since I have no children of my own, eggs are pretty much relegated to Egg Salad Sandwiches and the occasional Bacon and Egg breakfast.

It's a little sad just thinking of that, so perhaps I'll look to pick up some Paas at a deep post-Easter discount while I'm trying to score on left over holiday candy!!

No comments: