Letty Owings, age 89, describes Easter in a farming community during the early 1930s:
At 4AM on Easter Sunday, my dad went outside, fed the animals and milked the cows. Then he made cornbread and opened a jar of apple butter for the cornbread. This was the only work allowed on Easter, because it was considered a sin to work on Easter.
After we ate, we dressed for church. Mom wore her only dress. Women were required to cover their heads in church, so Mom wore her only hat that she called a “pot hat” which was uglier than sin and looked like an upside-down stove pot. Her hat had eye hooks in the back. My dad wore his only suit, and he wore a men’s hat, but since he did not have to wear the hat in church, he hung it on the hat hook in the back of the church. The preacher wore black.
Men sat on the right of the church and women sat on the left, although that changed, sometime later in the 1930s. The church had a pump organ. One person pumped it, while another person was at the keys. The organist maintained his appointment as such until ‘the sheep croaked,’ we used to say as a joke.
Easter was a communion day. The drink was wine and never grape juice, and the bread was broken from a loaf rather than of a wafer variety, but one had to be confirmed to receive communion, so our church did have Sunday School. Baptism was neither by sprinkling nor immersion but by the preacher dipping his entire hand three times to perform the blessing.
After church, there was no communal get-together or meal. Rather, I went for walks with my father in the woods, the pastures, the fields. The flowers and trees were beginning to bloom. Morel mushrooms would come up with the first warm dirt, if the dirt was warm enough. We walked and walked.
During our walks, my dad told me how much we should appreciate the gifts that we have. He would point to the “boy britches,”pink flowers with hearts that resemble boys’ britches, and blooming trees, and “spring beauties” flowers in the meadows.
Easter is a time of rejuvenation and beauty, but something my father said remains with me to this day. He said, “We have done nothing to deserve this.”
I cherished that.