The Mountain Laurel
The Journal of Mountain Life

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from the
Heart of the Blue Ridge

1926: Easter Sunday in a North Georgia Village

By Grace Cash © 1990

Issue: April, 1990

Editor's Note... The following is one of a series of articles written by Grace Cash. She lives in Flowery Branch, Georgia. Watch for more of her stories in future issues.

In 1925 the Sunday School superintendent promised all members an Easter basket and a surprise gift if they didn't miss a Sunday from Easter to Easter. The Easter Day of 1926 came, and Lillian, Ruth and I were among the many farm children who got a basket filled with colored candy eggs, and a big chocolate goose egg hidden beneath the green confetti. The beautiful basket was tied with a striped ribbon. That seemed enough reward for me, who had never seen a candy egg before. But the "surprise" was a box of chocolate candy. The chocolates, cradled in little fluted cups, were altogether different from the peppermint sticks that helped fill our Santa Claus shoe boxes, and the sheets of Gainesville-made candy from the county seat, sold at the Country Store at knocked-down price.

Our one-mile walk to Sunday School in burning sun, sleet, and rain had paid off. But for us - Irma, Lillian, Ruth and me - our day had just started. We sent word home by our brothers that we were spending the day with a family who lived midway between our house on the hill and the church. Irma and Mary Dean were Young People, and they looked forward to courting the boys they knew, or meeting new ones, at the afternoon egg hunt to be held in a wooded flat a little way from the church. Along with the children of that house, who had also received baskets and boxes of candy, we ate enough for a total feast. We should not have been invited to the table, loaded with festival food: A baked hen and dressing, flaky oven-baked biscuits, green beans, beets, lettuce and English peas. To cap it all, the mother had baked a chocolate cake.

That afternoon we went to the egg hunt, walking back down the road and around the curve, to the village. The grounds were covered with adults, courting couples and children. Egg hunts became the most popular event of the year, not only for us at Chestnut Mountain, but county-wide. The town merchants fostered the event. Easter baskets filled the Ten Cent Store counters every Spring. Bright new clothing became a requirement. The women bought ready made dresses, suits, woolen toppers and flower trimmed and (my favorite of all) cherry trimmed hats. Some of the hats had veils reaching below the eyes. High heel shoes for young girls and Cuban heels for older women, were purchased at the town stores. In the late 1930's factories started opening up jobs for farm folks, and the Country Store sold hardly any Shinola Shoe Polish that had formerly kept a pair of Sunday shoes in passable condition for years.

I remember how Mama enjoyed the coming of Spring, when she went to the Country Store to trade. She had a pretty face and a kind smile, but on this day she would set her mouth crookedly, in deep thought, studying which of the bolts she would choose for her girls and herself. The decision made, she had the merchant bring out his tray of cellophane-wrapped lace, buttons, ribbons and thread. That also went with the coming of factories and store-jobs and eleventh grade high school diplomas for the farmers' children. Then the old merchant put away his trays of lace, ribbon, buttons and thread and emptied his shelf of the bright-flowered cloth bolts and stocked there rows of canned salmon, and put away his rusty scissors and his yardstick.

Those memories linger, but are secondary to what I learned in Sunday School. I still remember - and use that knowledge many times in my present life situation - what the superintendent taught us in the assembly: "Easter is observed on the first Sunday after the date of the first full moon that occurs on or after March 21." Such information was necessary back then when our calendars were not marked with set-aside special days, with the exception of Sundays which were red-lettered, as was Christmas Day.

There was just something special about Spring - the renewal of life, the burgeoning green growth of tree branches, the flowers blooming in the yards and growing wild in the pastures, and farmers planting their crops and gardens. I know now - far removed from my early life as a farmer's daughter - that all the excitement and hope that came with Spring was closely related to the Resurrection Day of our Lord, bringing to the people each year the promise of everlasting life.