Chatter and her great great aunt Hazel
This is my Great Aunt Hazel sitting with Chatter. She will be 81 years old this July. She is my Papaw’s baby sister. Today is the anniversary of their mother, Dora’s death. When she died Hazel was only 8 months old. My Papaw was around 12 years old. I have heard the story of my Papaw feeding his baby sister oatmeal after his mother died at least a dozen times but I never get tired of hearing it. Thinking of a 12 year old little boy wearing overalls feeding his baby sister oatmeal because their mother had died of consumption at age 37 is a story that sticks with you.
This is Dora with her brothers.
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 at the time. 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.
This is the same little church from Aunt Hazel’s childhood.
The other memory she shared with me happened when she was 8 years old. She had moved to Asheville 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 even shared with her how their mother had used onion peels and poke berries to dye eggs when he was small.
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.
p.s. You can read more about the origin of Easter traditions in Appalachia at Appalachian History a blog run by Dave Tabler.