2015-04-16 / Editorial

Norman’s Attic of Memories

Easter of my youth
By Norman Beaupré

Since we are still in the octave of Easter, I’ve decided to write about my memories of Easter growing up in Biddeford. Being young like all the little boys and girls, I anticipated Christmas and Easter with a sense of nervousness, the nervousness of youth. Once Christmas had passed and Lent had gone by there followed the high liturgical days of Holy Week with Maundy Thursday when they had changed the violet veils on the statues with white ones only to be changed again for Good Friday and its lugubrious tone of our Savior’s crucifixion and death. Then followed the forenoon of Holy Saturday when we awaited for the bells to come back from Rome where they had gone during the Gloria on the previous Thursday. It would be at noon, the final ending of the Lenten season when we would be allowed to eat our candy. If we had not broken our Lent, then the candy would taste all that more delicious.

We kids had all seen with a quick and watchful eye the beautiful Easter baskets wrapped with yellow or pink cellophane that had been out in full display for weeks before Easter so as to tempt children like me. I always had a beautiful one in sight. Not that I anticipated getting such a big and attractive one, but it was, for me, in the domain of dreams. We always dream for something inaccessible, it seems. However, I was sure I was going to get one since, even though I might not get such a big one from my parents, I was certain that my godmother, aunt Eva, would buy me a decent one. She was truly my fairy godmother.

I had seen one at Newberry’s, a big cane basket woven in colors with a big handle, on top of which was a huge yellow bow. The cellophane matched the bow so well that it all seemed to glow with sunlight. Everything seemed so sensational to the little lad that I was then. The more I looked at it the more it looked like the one of my Easter dreams. It was really a beautiful and big Easter basket. I told myself that it was specially made for me. There was no other like that one. That’s the one I wanted. None other. While looking at it from up close, I saw that there was inside it right in the center, a really nice, big chocolate Easter bunny standing on its hind legs with a little basket in its rabbit hands. He seemed to have a wide smile on his lips. The basket was well stocked with all kinds of candy. All around the bunny there were yellow marshmallow chicks, and that pleased me a lot for I could almost taste those small delights. There were also little chocolate chickens, little cats and dogs in chocolate, and some tiny colored eggs, and scattered here and there were some jelly beans. Moreover,standing on some type of toothpicks were little figures of animals made of colored sugar. All was well put together on green strips of paper grass. I really felt like having this beautiful big Easter basket and call it mine. I ran home exhausted and out of breath and, at the same time, exhilarated at my discovery at the five-and-dime store. Sometimes my mother sent me downtown for her errands and it was on one such occasion when I lingered there a bit at Newberry’s in order to look more closely at my Easter basket. The one that I had already chosen for myself. “What did you do? It took you so long that I was beginning to worry,” my mother chided me. I told her that I had seen at Newberry’s the most beautiful Easter basket ever, and that I had spent some time examining it. She told me not to think about it since she would not be able to afford such a thing for her three children. “Money doesn’t fall from heaven,” she told me. In the very depth of myself, I was thinking that I would be able to get it if I succeeded to convince aunt Eva of my need of Easter joy in the shape of a big and beautiful Easter basket at Newberry’s. “No need to bother your aunt Eva about it either,” she added. I knew that she suspected my godson’s tactics.

Oh well, I did not get my beautiful big Easter basket from Newberry’s. I got another one, not as big as the one I wanted, but beautiful and sufficient enough to satisfy my Easter hunger for candy. However, I did receive from aunt Eva three chocolate crosses with a nice white and pink decoration. They were made of marshmallow that I enjoyed so much. My grandmother gave us, the children, some coins that allowed us to buy whatever pleased us at Parenteau’s. At the end of the day I had gotten a lot of candy, enough to satisfy my hunger. However, I kept in my inner eye my very beautiful and big Easter basket at Newberry’s that I will never forget. Oh, the beautiful past Easter Sundays of the dreams of a little dreamer boy and the pleasure of enjoying all the little joys of Easter with the family.

Norman’s Attic of Memories appears every two weeks and the columns are based on Norman Beaupré’s remembrances of his past growing up in Biddeford in the 1930s and 1940s. They are based on Franco-American cultural experiences. Beaupré has a doctorate from Brown University and taught at the University of New England for over 30 years before retiring in 2000. He then went on to travel extensively and write novels and other genres both in English and in French.

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