Easter 1936, maybe. It rained. I ate an entire 10-inch chocolate bunny, starting with the ears, and then threw up.

Easter 1938, I think. I got chicken pox. Egg hunt canceled.

Easter 1940. My father had died March 1. My older sisters insisted on coloring and hiding eggs for my baby sister’s sake. I got mumps.

Easter 1942. War happened. All of my brothers joined the Navy. Standing room only at Mass. Not much enthusiasm for an egg hunt. Went to afternoon movie. Disney, I think.

Easter Sunday 1947. Gas is 15 cents a gallon, Wonder Bread 7 cents a loaf, and you could get a big bowl of chili at Auel’s Cafe for 25 cents, oyster crackers included. This was my first grown-up Easter.

There was Easter Mass with all of the attendant finery. I had helped color eggs the night before for my baby sister and had gotten up early to hide them in the dewy, wet grass. There was an Easter dinner somewhere, for sure, but I had to go to work.


I had an after-school job that spring and into summer working for my cousin Pete’s two bars in St. Louis: The Bungalow Bar and Grill out on Chippewa Street and the Four Aces Bar and Grill on Cherokee Street, where daily, I replenished the two beer coolers and put out the cold cuts buffet, swept down and mopped the floor and put out the trash. That job helped me get a charge card at Famous and Barr’s Department Store, where I bought my first Easter blue blazer and gabardine slacks. Grown-up stuff.

I was no longer an altar boy at Easter, so I got to sit in the pews. It was a special feeling.

There was a girl there with her grandmother. My mother said her name was Rosemary. Oh, oh!

I remember the unusually hot summer night some years later when this Rosemary asked me to dance at the Loughborough YMCA’s Tuesday night dance party.

There she was all grown up and looking for all the world like white fudge wrapped in cellophane and drenched in something called “White Shoulders” perfume. Doris Day was on the juke box singing “It’s Magic.” It was.

How can I remember something so long ago? Someone once said, “In every man’s life, there is a summer, and a girl.”


Besides, some things you smell on a hot breezeless summer night when you’re young stick with you until they bury you.

“You were an altar boy?” Rosemary whispered in my ear.


A long pause while I inhaled clouds of White Shoulders.




Another long pause, another inhalation.

“You’re kidding.”


“Can I come and see you do it?”

“I don’t do it anymore.”



Easter Sunday 1951. Louisiana Tech, Ruston, Louisiana. Joyce Ann was a strict Baptist and a Kappa Delta girl who drove us to Easter service in her Daddy’s (J.R.) white Cadillac convertible, with red leather seats, steer horns on front. Easter dinner of ham, grits, sweet potato pie, lemonade and mint juleps.

Easter Sunday 1954. Tokyo, Japan. Easter dinner at the Diamond Hotel, two blocks down from the Ginza and the Imperial Palace. Sgt. Richard Basinger and a Japanese girl whose name I never knew, and Barbara Johansen, a Red Cross Grey Lady volunteer who taught me how to say “I love you” and “You have freckles on your back” in Danish.

They served the traditional American ham and sweet potatoes, but we ate from the Japanese menu. A lot of noodles and fish and my first taste of sake.

Easter Sunday 1959. My new girlfriend, Katherine Joly, of Waterville, Maine, and I walked in the famous Easter Parade.

She wore a great hat from a hometown store named Alvina’s and Delia’s.

She remembers my tweed jacket, tattersall Westcott vest and tweed Irish hat.

We joined my old actor friend Franklin Cover, who went on to play Tom Willis on “The Jeffersons.”

We had martinis at the Plaza Hotel. Kay had a Manhattan. We had Easter dinner somewhere else, just the two of us. We don’t remember the restaurant. I wore Bay Rum cologne, Kay wore Chanel No. 5. Easter Sunday 2018. Waterville, Maine. To be continued. Go hunt your eggs.

J.P. Devine is a Waterville writer.

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