Saturday, March 30, 2013

Harrowgate Easter Basket - 1960

This started the other night when Jimmy Kimmel had built a Peeps gun and was shooting Peeps out into his late night TV audience.

Peeps are kind of an iconic waste product that comes out in marketing every Easter and most people I believe are not fond of them other than for their nostalgic value from childhood. Biting into one of them is the oral equivalent I think of listening to the screeching of a piece of chalk on a chalk board.

They come in colors now. They used to be many decades ago only yellow and decorated my Easter morning basket.

One each I think we got. The whole Easter basket thing is another thing I as a parent recreated to a younger generation without much appreciation for the hand me tradition thing.

Stepping back a few weeks before Easter in my youth in the last century was the nuns in the grade school issuing every child from grade 1 to 8 an Easter Egg Gambling punch card thing where for a nickel or a dime you sold a box, a circle with a designated name.

The lucky person who had the winning name revealed after you sold all your peeled away red dots would be revealed behind the big red circle at the top of the gambling card.

These cards, along with Bingo were a very Catholic thing to raise funds for the school and or parish and under no circumstances could be confessed in the confessional as the sin of gambling. There was a special dispensation for it of course!

The prize(?) was a coconut crème Easter egg with its dense confection surrounded by dark milk chocolate. 

The appeal of these eggs I believe was with the older generations and strangely too with my older siblings who could not get enough of them when chopped up with some difficulty with a big butcher knife from the kitchen.  

I usually gave my coconut crème egg away in pieces, not desperate enough personally to consume more than just the first awful taste of it.

Luckily when I reached eight or nine, they now had hollow chocolate bunnies in boxes which my parents let me have in lieu of the coconut crème thing. No doubt the hollow bunnies, new to the market then, were cheaper to purchase.

The baskets with filled with the usual colored hard boiled eggs, decorated the previous day on Saturday with a egg coloring kit, color fizzy tablets, wax crayon and wire loop egg holder that cost a dime everywhere in the neighborhood stores.

The real thing about chocolate that I loved in my basket was with the Hershey Kisses which were rationed to like a half dozen. The whole product was expensive and marketed differently back then. Quality not quantity and coming in a small cellophane bag.

So now, we have the Peep, chocolate hollow bunny, Hershey kisses. 

Of course, there were jelly beans in an improvised aluminum foil shaped cup and the thing I loved most was the chocolate covered marshmallow eggs wrapped in colored silver foil which my father purchased special in a store off of K & A south in one of those stores with steps leading up into the storefront of an old house.

I believe he may have been purchasing the foil covered chocolate marshmallows at the same place since his youth. Of all the things in the sacred Easter basket, this purchase and these handmade marshmallow eggs with the most preciously thought of by all.

That into a basket with plastic colored hay. Each of us had a reserved color and I cannot remember my specific color at the moment.

One other thing, the baskets themselves, used every year and made of natural materials looked their age and use. My father would go to the local Easter Flower stand selling Easter plants, the kind you gave to your grandmother, and he would purchase the colored aluminum foil sheets used to wrap and decorate clay pots holding the seasonal plants. This foil, again following the color reserved theme, got wrapped onto tired old wicker Easter baskets.