Appalachia Holidays in Appalachia

Easter In Appalachia

This is my Aunt Hazel sitting with Chatter. She is my Papaw’s baby sister. When their Mother, Dora, died Hazel was only 8 months old. My Papaw was about 12 years old. I’ve heard the story of how Papaw fed his baby sister oatmeal after their mother died at least a dozen times, but I never tire of hearing it. Thinking of a 12 year old boy feeding his sister oatmeal because their mother died of consumption at age 37 is a story that sticks with you.

The lady below is their Mother, Dora.

I ask Aunt Hazel what she recalled about the Easters of her childhood. “First of all” she said “when I was a child it was called Resurrection Day not Easter”. She went on to share memories of two Resurrection Days with me.

The first was when she was 6 years old. She was living with her father and his new family. No one had many eggs to hide. Since eggs were hard to come by Hazel said “it was understood that you found the same amount of eggs that you brought to hide”. She remembered being at church with her Sunday School teacher sitting on a rock while she taught the class before the egg hunt. Although it has been updated over the years, the church from her memory is still used today.

The other Easter memory she shared with me took place when she was 8 years old. She had moved to Asheville to live with one of her older brothers. Aunt Hazel said it was like moving to the land of plenty. She left a home where she had too little and moved to one where she had an abundance. She said she would always remember she got her first pair of black and white loafers, her first Easter basket with a bunny and candy. Her brother also shared precious memories of their Mother with her. He told Hazel that when he was a small child their mother used onion peels and poke berries to dye eggs for Easter.

Although the tone of her memories are decidedly different, Aunt Hazel said “I value both of them the same, the hard times of life make you who you are”.

Happy Resurrection Day.


This post was originally published here on the Blind Pig in March 2008.

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  • Reply
    April 27, 2011 at 6:03 am

    Thats my Aunt Hazel and I’ve hunted a many Easter Eggs and ate many a Easter Dinners at her house in Lowell N. C. and have lots of memories of her and her family and as always her kindness to my Mom and Dad and us younguns.We always went to the First Baptist Church in Art Cloth , a little town across the bridge from Lowell, for Son -Rise _Service, the Preachers name was John Kinnerman , and My SunDay School Teachers was Carol Watts and Mr. Ledbetter. What memories this post brought back to my mind . Thanks . Malcolm in Thailand

  • Reply
    April 24, 2011 at 9:18 pm

    Such a sweet but also sad story. So sad to never have known your mother.
    And Happy Resurrection day to you.

  • Reply
    kathryn Magendie
    April 24, 2011 at 5:15 pm

    Look at those faces . . . *smiling*
    I have so much to catch up on here – !

  • Reply
    Dee from Tennessee
    April 24, 2011 at 4:48 am

    Many, many of my fb friends refer to it as Resurrection Day. We just had a Memorial service tonight (Sat.) in a beautiful chapel overflowing with basically just Easter lilies — it was something else to think that our beloved family member was celebrating Resurrection Day in the presence of our Lord.
    @Jim Casada — Carter County in Tennessee — still has a long-standing traditon (well, as far as I know they still do…lol) in Peter’s Hollow of trying to break/crack the eggs. I think the tradition is over a hundred years old. It’s almost 5:00 am as I am typing this and I’m sure our Sunday paper is on the porch, but I am a wimp and don’t want to go out in the dark and get it — but , ten to one, they’ll have an article about it – they do every year. It’s a big deal every year.
    Tipper, yes indeed, just the fact that she died so young would “stick with you” for sure, but her tender care of a mere boy — who had to grow up overnight — oh, yeah — that is surely impinted in your heart of hearts. Have a blesed Resurrection Day!

  • Reply
    B. Ruth
    April 23, 2011 at 10:31 pm

    Loved the post…My favorite memories of Easter…If you had to name them quick…Going to Sunrise Service (getting up before dawn), white shoes, colored blue and pink chicks and yellow ducks and those old hard shell pure sugar candy eggs…ha
    Like midnight on Christmas Eve…Easter morning just before dawn leaves the same feeling of peace in my mind…A new beginning, resurrection of new life and promise in the Spring..
    Thanks Tipper,

  • Reply
    Uncle Al
    April 23, 2011 at 8:10 pm

    Once again Tipper, thanks for sharing and bringing back warm memories of “Resurrection Day’s gone by. Egg hunting was a true adventure on my Pap-paw’s farm. They must have had thousand places to hide the eggs. I’m not sure we ever found them all. Christ is Risen Indeed!

  • Reply
    Jim Casada
    April 23, 2011 at 7:34 pm

    The book Eva Nell mentions is not “Dora” but rather “Dorie: Woman of the Mountains.” It was compiled by Florence Bush Cope, Dorie’s daughter, and as Eva Nell suggests, is a “must read.” Dorie and her family lived in various logging camps (Smokemont, Elkmont, etc.) during the great timber cutting era which stretched from roughly 1900-1930, and the book is full of interesting material of a hardscrabble way of life. The book was published by the Univ. of Tennessee Press and is, I’m pretty certain, still in print in paperbound form.
    One other thing this fine post brought to mind was “fighting” Easter eggs. Did anyone else do that? You pecked the small end of a boiled egg against one of a friend to see which one would crack. Of course someone always slipped in a guinea egg, and those things are second cousins to rocks. No chicken egg had a chance.
    Jim Casada

  • Reply
    April 23, 2011 at 7:32 pm

    Thank you for sharing your Aunt’s memories with us!
    My grandma told me that when she was a child during the depression, she and her brother would save up any scrap of colored paper they came across during the year. They would soak them in water and color their Easter eggs with the dye that bled out of the paper. She never sounded bitter or self-pitying when she told how they made do back in those days, she was proud of her family’s cleverness and fortitude!
    A blessed Easter to the Blind Pig family!

  • Reply
    April 23, 2011 at 6:51 pm

    I loved the story, we never look a what easter is all about, Hope you and yours has a wonderful easter . God Bless, Kay

  • Reply
    Mike McLain
    April 23, 2011 at 5:48 pm

    I like the name Resurrection Day, also. Never heard it called that, I don’t believe. I have never really understood where the name Easter came from – Resurrection Day makes it clear what you are talking about.

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    April 23, 2011 at 4:50 pm

    I remember Easters long gone when we had a family Easter Egg Hunt at my Aunt Maude’s.
    There was lots of kids in the family and we sure had a lot of fun.

  • Reply
    April 23, 2011 at 1:43 pm

    I do agree that the hard times of
    life make you who you are and they
    form your character. That was very
    heart-warming to read of papaw’s
    love and caring ways for his baby
    sister. When we were young and had
    Easter egg hunts at church, we were also told not to keep more
    than we brought. And this lesson
    of sharing and caring for others
    I taught my girls to honor…Ken

  • Reply
    April 23, 2011 at 1:24 pm

    What a beautiful story and for now the Easter Season. She is right Resurrection Day.

  • Reply
    April 23, 2011 at 12:02 pm

    I, too, like the old name although I have never heard it before. That’s truely what it is and puts the proper emphasis on the Holy Day.

  • Reply
    April 23, 2011 at 12:02 pm

    Easter Sunday was always spent with my mother’s sister and her family. They owned a chicken farm and my brother and I use to watch the new chicks being born. We also tested eggs with a special light box; we wanted the double yokers that would happen sometimes. We always went exploring with my cousins; one time I fell into the stream and my new shoes, socks, and coat got just a bit too muddy. My mom was not very pleased with me, but I just wanted to keep up with the guys – my brother and two cousins. My aunt made the best cream puffs, too.

  • Reply
    Eva M. Wike, Ph. D.
    April 23, 2011 at 11:51 am

    Such a perfect reminder of what hardships folks go through as other folks reach out and make things a little easier. “Dora” is the title of a wonderful book written by a Knoxville lady. I dun forgot her name but I remember the story of her mother and just how difficult life was in the ‘logging’ days in the Great Smokey Mountains! Very inspirational story! If the library hasn’t got it you should tell Mary to GET IT!!!
    Eva Nell

  • Reply
    April 23, 2011 at 10:55 am

    Incredible to think of growing up without your own dear mother, and yet to be cared for by such dear brothers. What a difference that must bring into her life from what we tend to think is “normal”.

  • Reply
    April 23, 2011 at 10:04 am

    I like the old Name for it best. tells the true meaning and takes away the commercialism from what it has become. chatter sure has changed and grown up in three years. in the photo with Aunt Hazel she is still a child and now she is a young lady. love both stories.

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