The Mountain Laurel
The Journal of Mountain Life

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from the
Heart of the Blue Ridge

John Hays Hollow - My Happiest Easter

By Hazel P. Hedrick © 1984

Issue: April, 1984

It’s almost corn planting time in the John Hayes Hollow. Clusters of violets are in bloom along the spring branch. Trees are turning green. Yellow bells are in full bloom on the creek bank and dog woods are white, dotting the hillsides that surrounds us.

We children got so excited because Easter was near and so was April Fool’s Day. April Fool’s Day was next to Halloween for us even grown men would walk five miles to pull a good April Fool’s joke on a friend or neighbor. And Easter Sunday was next to Christmas, not because we got new clothes or an Easter basket or even candy, but we did always get three or four real eggs of our very own to color and to play with until Easter was over. Then, we would just eat them all at once or however we wished, just so long as we didn’t waste them.

After church on Easter Sunday was always an egg hunt. The parents would hide the eggs and there was a small prize for the child who found the most eggs.

Once, as I recall, Easter Sunday fell on April Fool’s Day. The parents pretended to hide the eggs as usual and let us hunt for half an hour before crying, “April Fool” on us. Those days were fun. There was no rushing around for new clothes. No baskets full of candy for the kids to get sick off of and the parents had as much fun as the kids.

The one Easter that stuck out most in my mind, I thought was going to be the worst ever. It turned out to be the best, for me at least.

It had been a cold, wet spring and Daddy had not had any outside work; not a dimes worth. We were scrapping the bottom of the barrel, as usual, only this spring our hens had gone on strike too.

Here it was a few days before Easter and not one egg did we have, and not a nickel to buy any. The little kids were out finding the hens extra corn, trying to coax them into laying just one Easter egg, with no luck.

It was pretty rough on Mom and Dad trying to answer all the whys and how comes of the little fellows that just could not understand why we would not have any eggs for Easter.

Daddy owned a mule, but his brother who lived down the road didn’t. Daddy had at that time four kids (I being the oldest - 8 years old) and his brother had only one three year old (or there about). Uncle would borrow Daddy’s mule to plow his field and repay Daddy by helping him get wood or something for a day.

On this particular Good Friday, my Uncle came by to borrow the mule and me to help him plant a hillside of corn. Now if someone wonders what he needed an eight year old for, I could drop the seed corn and beans in the rows. I followed that plow all day with a little bucket of corn on one arm and beans on the other and dropped, two grains of corn and two beans at my toe every step I made from sun up to sun down and we didn’t get the field done. So, I had to go back the next day. By mid-afternoon on Saturday, I was one tired little girl.

When I got home, I sat down on the porch steps to rest. My uncle went to unharness and to put up the mule. Then, to my surprise, he walked back over to where I sat and reached out his hand. My uncle was a man of few words and no gift giver of any kind, so I didn’t know if I should take what he seemed to be offering. I looked at Mom. She nodded yes. My eyeballs almost popped out of my head when he dropped a shiny little dime in my hand. Nobody ever gave me a dime before. In fact, we so seldom saw a dime that all the little kids ran to see my shiny little dime.

Suddenly, I wasn’t tired anymore. I jumped to my feet and asked Mom how many eggs I could buy with my dime. She got a big handkerchief and tied the dime in the corner so I wouldn’t lose it and off to the store I ran. We had our Easter egg hunt after all and it was my happiest Easter ever.