Easter Animals

My most vivid memory from Easters past involved livestock. Back in those days it was common to give small children live baby chicks, never a good idea. We never did anything bad to them, in fact we were mostly only allowed to look at them. In the beginning to keep them warm, we kept them  in a large cardboard box that sat next to an oil heater in our living room. Until then a small child sized chair sat on either side of the heater. Having awoken from a bad dream one night, I walked out in the dark and sat in the spot the chair had been, only to end up in the box of chickens. They got out of the way, made quite a bit of noise, but did not wake anyone up, so I went back to bed. Shortly after that the chicks, starting to get real feathers, went to live on a farm.

Easter, being a religious holiday meant we all got dressed in fancy clothes and went to church. One year (for some reason I must have blocked from memory), my brother Rick and I seemed to have acquired searsucker jackets. (Probably from cousins who had outgrown them). Light blue and white pin stripes with a slightly puckered fabric. We were very proud of those jackets, and afraid to even sit down so as not to get them dirty. Before we went to church, we all gathered in front of the house for a family photo. My sister Madonna had on a hat, very fashionable for the time I am sure, that looked like a large pile of yellow flowers. We all pushed together to make sure everyone was in the photo while my mother took the picture with her Kodak Brownie camera. The results being a clear black and white photo with one or two of us actually looking toward the lens. After the photo op we piled into the car and made the trek to the church. Its not easy to sit still when you are in a suit listening to someone speak when all you can think of is chocolate rabbits. As soon as we were home, we took off those suits we were so proud of, threw them on the floor and went after the rabbits.  We always ate dinner early on Sundays, and holidays even more so. Despite the fact that we had gorged on chocolate and marshmallow peeps, we sat down to a huge ham dinner. After the main course my mother would bring out the dessert, a chocolate cake. This wasn’t a typical cake but one from Piersons Bakery a couple of blocks away. Every Easter they would sell cakes made from a lamb shaped cake mold and decorated with white icing and coconut flakes. We all went to bed on a serious sugar high.

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My First Time

The Tow Path was what we called the section of the Illinois Michigan Canal that ran through the town that I grew up in. I have some memories of going there separately with my grandfather and parents when I was very young. Back when I discovered it on my own, it was a place of mystery. At that time it had been abandoned from any practical use for many years and had fallen into massive decay. In addition to people using it as a garbage dump, the canal itself became a graveyard for abandoned vehicles.Thats not as bad as it sounds as it gave the place an aura of mystery. My friends and I would go down there exploring, in the beginning just a little way in and then further and further eventually veering off the dirt road and onto the foot trails that went across the water and into the woods of what seemed like endless possibilities.

This isn’t going to be endless stories of kids running through the woods, (there will be some of that) but rather the path that took me to where I am.

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