7 Easter Memories

1. Quiet time for Mom 12 – 3 p.m. on Good Friday afternoon to correspond to time Christ hung on the cross.

2. Easter jackets fully lined in pastel tweeds or plaids made by Aunt Ruthie. Easter dresses by Mom, sometimes with smocking or embroidery.

3. Home-made peanut butter and coconut eggs covered in glossy chocolate. (See recipe in “Mom’s Kitchen” blog post.)

4. Fancy lady hats donated by Grandma’s dear friend, Mame Goss, who worked in a millinery shop. No, we didn’t wear them to church!


5. Easter eggs hidden under the pear tree, lilac bushes, behind the chicken house, in the tulips, wherever.

6. Deep voices singing full force “Up-from-the-grave-He-arose” from the hymn Christ Arose.


7. Aunts, uncles, cousins surrounding a huge table groaning with ham and all the fixings.

What are your memories of this season?


A Hornet’s Nest: The Bishop and My Shoes

They were gathered in a circle when I walked in. Call it naivete or being preoccupied with my classes, I was totally unprepared for the conclave of bishops, school administrators and other assorted male authorities that greeted me on entering the conference room at Lancaster Mennonite School where I was part of the English faculty. Yes, I had walked into a hornet’s nest indeed:

Bishop: Hello, Sister Longenecker

S. L.  (weakly) Hello

Bishop: We have called this meeting with you to discuss some matters that relate to the standards of this school and your manner of dress.

What! . . . This is an ambush.

S. L. Oh . . .

Bishop: Yes, you are familiar with the contract you signed last year when you were hired for this position.

S. L. Well, yes . . . .

Bishop: In it you agreed to uphold the “Rules and Discipline” of the Lancaster Conference of the Mennonite Church.

Christian Doctrine_cover_150_med

S. L. Yes, I recall. . . .

Bishop: You remember also there is a statement about the wearing of the plain cape dress.

S. L.  No comment . . . listening intently

Bishop: We have noticed that you are embellishing your dress with a collar and fancy button, which seems entirely unnecessary and certainly not a good example to our students.


Bishop: Also, you have been wearing another dress made of red material as well.

S. L. Now completely aghast . . . I want to disappear. Well, I do have a dress like that but the fabric has very dark shades of red, not very bright at all.

Bishop: And your shoes — the rules state that “ . . . dark footwear is the best expression of modesty and nonconformity for all our sisters,” and we hope that you will comply.

S. L. Looking down at my shoes, I see a black, patent leather shoe with a tiny bow and kitten heels. Dear Lord, this is getting very bad—I’m not a nun, but even I know that black patent leather shoes don’t really reflect up!

The Principal: To me, they look like dancing shoes.

S. L. Dancing shoes–gulp!–I don’t know even one dance step! Dancing is forbidden. It says so in the rule book.

Somehow the meeting concludes with no doubt some meek promise of compliance from me.

Fade to black . . . .

My Life in Shoes

Marian_Shoe Drawing_5x4_300med          blackshoes

Shoe drawing, circa age 10         Bane of the Bishop  1962

brownshoes           redshoes

Break-out Shoes   1965               My style now – red and shiny

What emotional connections, positive or negative, do you have with a item of clothing in your past? Tell us your story.

Prayer Cap and Caped Dress: A Capsule


Marian_middleschoolMiddle Schooler: Veiled and Caped

Good Mennonite girls of the 1950s and 60s like me wore a prayer cap and a dress with a cape. Yes, no fancy fad in the frock I’m wearing in the photo. As best I can tell, the belted cape was worn to add an extra layer of padding to de-emphasize female curves. The object was modesty and humility at all costs. Underneath my cap, also called covering or veiling, I planted a  circlet of braids attached with hairpins. Why is it worn? “According to I Corinthians 11:1-16, . . . the long hair and veiled head gives evidence of the woman’s “unceasing prayer and constant witness,” accepting “submission designated by God.” *

Christian Doctrine_cover_150_med   Christian Doctrine_p21 close up_150_med

* Statement of Christian Doctrine and Rules and Discipline of the Lancaster Conference of the Mennonite Church, Article II—Ordinances, Section 5, July 17, 1968.

More on the Prayer Cap:

The Prayer Veil_cover_150_med

Wenger, J. C., The Prayer Veil in Scripture and History, Herald Press, Scottdale, PA, 1964.


Three Common Misconceptions about Amish and Mennonites:

1. Amish came first.  No, Menno Simons, a former Swiss priest, broke off from the Catholic Church during the Reformation in 1536, originating the Mennonite Church. Later in 1693, Jacob Ammon formed the Amish, who have worn even more conservative dress.

2. Most Mennonites are farmers; their children go to one-room schoolhouses.  No, from the mid-1950s and earlier Mennonites have embraced the professions: many are doctors, lawyers, educators. Higher education is the norm for many.

3. Plain looks equate to lack of emotional expression.  Just ask my husband!

1. What misconceptions can you add?

2. Any similar experiences? Tell your anecdote.

3. Questions?

Harvey Yoder, Mennonite pastor and counselor, has compiled a more complete list of 10 myths about Mennonites and Amish on his own website. I invite you to check out this link:


Coming soon!  Grandma’s Kitchen: Recipes and More