Any Hats in Your History?

Little Mennonite girls could be fancy before they became plain. They could wear hats. Their mothers may have worn flat, black bonnets on top of their prayer veilings (coverings) at Easter, but they couldn’t wear hats with ribbons and flowers. At least not in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania in the 1950s.

My sisters and I are standing here in front of peony bushes wearing some cast-off hats Grandma Longenecker’s friend, Mame Goss, brought from a millinery shop in Middletown, Pennsylvania.

Marian, Jean, and Janice in front of the peony bushes
Marian, Jean, and Janice in front of the peony bushes

I recall this scene through the lens of memory:

I’m looking now at a snapshot my mother took of my sisters and me in these hats, the three of us holding hands in front of a peony bed. The magenta peonies are in bloom, so it must have been May. The double whites mingled among them have ruby flecks in their ruffled centers. My sister Janice, three years younger, is standing at one end, with blonde hair fluffed into curls, hands obediently at her side. Jeanie, a tiny tot of two or three, appears to be looking down at the grass, her burst of tulle brushing light brown hair. I’m staring straight at the camera, two thick braids trailing down my back. Our dresses are all bedecked with ruffles and bows, embroidery or smocking, dresses surely made by our plain Mennonite mother.

I wore my first adult hat ever, a pale blue clôche with a blue chiffon dress one spring when Cliff and I were dating.

At Crista’s 5th birthday party I was wearing a knitted skull-tight cap, typical of the 1970s.

Hat1977redStocking

In the 1990s I bought a white hat trimmed in black ribbon and feathers, probably for Easter. I don’t wear hats anymore. I have already taken this one to Angel Aid, a charity for mothers and children.

Hat1999KillarneySteps

My sister Jan and I wore British-style hats to Downton Abbey events sponsored by our PBS station in Jacksonville, Florida. Each of our hats adorned with feathers, a flower and seed pearls cost $ 5.00 at Roots’ Country Market near Manheim, PA. We didn’t tell anyone at the gala how much our gorgeous hats cost.

JanMarianDownton

Sisters with friend Carolyn Stoner
Sisters with friend Carolyn Stoner with her fascinator hat in black and green

Hats have mostly gone out of fashion in recent decades, except among the trendy young. NAACP leader Roslyn Brock makes a style statement with her wardrobe of about 200 fashionable hats, expressing her love for her Grandmother Leona Pittman who “believed a woman was not properly dressed for church without one.” Brock emphasizes that

I’m following in the legacy of female civil rights leaders who completed their Sunday go-to-meeting clothes with fashionable hats.

 

Hats are the centerpiece of Roslyn’s wardrobe. She admits that she’ll buy the hat first and then find a matching suit or shoes. For Roslyn, who enjoys couture creations from Philip Treacy, Queen Elizabeth’s designer, wearing hats “keeps our history and culture alive.”

How a hat makes you feel is what a hat is all about.  ~ Philip Treacy

HatAARPrarticle

 

In June it will be two years since my mother died unexpectedly. I still miss her terribly. Grief occasionally comes over me in waves. Now less often, with less severe impact. Still . . .

On my dresser I have kept three mementoes of Mother, one on top of the other: the two-quart Ball jar with bubbles in the glass, emblematic of her love of cooking and canning. And her last Mennonite black bonnet and white prayer covering veiling made of bobbinet fabric, a see-through, hexagonal mesh. Symbols of her constant faith and hope in God, each piece of headgear is less than half the size of those she wore in her youth.

CoverBonnetMOM

Any hats in your history?

What did it look like? Where did you wear it? Do you still wear a hat? Comments are warmly welcomed. Don’t be shy.

Coming next: What Lights Your Fire?

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Our Easter in Ukraine

Khristos voskres!

Christ is risen indeed!

These words spoken in Russian are the very first expression of Easter joy we hear on Sunday, April 24, 2011 as folks gather at Birth of Christ Church in Kiev, Ukraine, preparing for the worship hour.

Here is the choir after rehearsal preparing to ascend the steps to the sanctuary for the Easter service.

Easter_UK_Birth of Christ Choir

At the invitation of ABCLife, Kathy Gould’s ministry to children and families, husband Cliff and I spent two weeks in Kiev (April 8 – 28, 2011) and surrounding towns performing art and music shows in public schools and churches. His final program entitled “He is Risen” is presented here at Birth of Christ Church on Easter weekend.

After the exchange of greetings, we worship by singing songs of the resurrection and then thrill to the experience of seeing the “He is risen!” presentation accompanied by exultant music and special lighting effects.

Easter_Birth of Christ+new mural_6x4_300

Before the service, early this Sunday morning, we see a couple, basket of Easter bread and eggs in hand, wending their way toward a Ukrainian Orthodox church farther down the road. Ukrainians walk every where possible as cars are very expensive here, and today the weather is cool and gorgeous. This couple graciously allow me to photograph their beautiful paschal offering.

UkraineEasterCoupleUkraineEasterBasket

Their special bread is frosted and coated with sprinkles. Here is a recipe for Ukrainian Easter Bread (Paska) from Extending the Table, a World Community Cookbook published by MennoMedia in a revised edition. In my older edition from 1991, the recipe is found on page 65.

RecipeExtending the Table_recipe_p65

*  *  *

After completing 19 shows in a 12-day period, we are ready for a respite, which we enjoy in Crimea: the ornate Livadia Palace, site of the signing of the peace treaty between Roosevelt, Churchill, and Stalin; the Church of Foros with its onion domes, where celebrities marry. Then in a park in the city of Yalta, a statue of Pushkin, the celebrated Russian poet and one of Chekhov’s “Lady with Her Dog” virtually come to life along the promenade bordering the Black Sea.

Sadly, the door is barred to Crimea now, once the accessible southern-most region of Ukraine. Since our visit, President Vladimir Putin has wrested this lovely coastal land from Ukrainian hands.

Pray for the people of Ukraine!


Cliff’s YouTube connection

Coming next: Enchanted April, Renewal and Possibilities

Mennonite Flashback III: Rabbits and Rings

This is a sequel to a previous blog post: Flying the Coop: Leaving Mennonite Land with a link to my original story on Mary Gottschalk’s website.

His Story:

I proposed to Marian my Mennonite girl friend one snowy evening, my car stuck in a snow-bank. When she accepted my proposal, I also asked her, “Would you be willing to wear a ring?” This is the plain girl I have fallen in love with: no make-up, no jewelry, especially no ring on her finger, ever.

Now it’s close to Easter and Marian is flying down from Charlotte to spend the weekend with me in Jacksonville. Technically, she’ll be with me most of the time though she will spend the night at Mom and Pop Rea’s house, members of Fellowship Bible Church where I am youth pastor. No sleeping together before marriage.

I’ve been wracking my brain to find a way to make the ring presentation unforgettable—and a surprise too. So this is what I’ll do. I’ll make a ham dinner for her finishing it off with dessert, a cake with her engagement ring baked inside. No, wait! A cake is too big; the ring may get lost in it. I’d better make cupcakes or muffins. That’s it. A blueberry muffin. She’ll find that ring for sure if I wrap it four or five times with tin foil.

And I’ll make some rabbit cutouts with toothpicks, blue for me and red for her, so I know which muffin the ring has been baked in.

Scanned from the original bunny sticks, 1967
Scanned from the original bunny sticks, 1967

Her Story:

Charlotte is my home this year, but with every stitch of my wedding gown, I dream of my life with soon-to-be-husband Cliff in Florida. Easter weekend I take an Eastern Airlines flight to Jacksonville. The carefree, goofy guy I have fallen in love with has hit real life, teaching sixth-graders in an inner city school. He has also exchanged a college dorm for a $ 50.00 per month, second-story garage apartment with a turquoise-teal kitchen, where I will live after our honeymoon. But his humble abode has not killed romance and his wish to entertain.

We sit down to a home-made ham dinner.

The Discovery:

Dessert is served. Oh, little bunny muffins, I think. How cute even if they’re from a mix. I take 2-3 bites and my teeth strike something hard and metallic. Uh-oh. I don’t want to embarrass Cliff by exposing his lack of baking expertise, so I try to hide the wad of foil under my plate. Eying what I think is a faux pas, he urges, “Why don’t you see what’s inside?” Cautious but obliging, I unwrap the layers and layers of foil, and my eyes pop with pleasure – a glittering diamond solitaire, my first ring ever.

Postscript: Years later when I am a young mother, I remove the ring to apply lotion to my hands, placing it on a top of the bedroom dresser. What happens later occurs out of sight and only in our reconstructed memory: Three-year-old daughter Crista finds the ring and puts it on. Wearing it to go potty, she flushes my diamond down drain. Screams ensue. Cliff digs frantically into the lawn hoping the ring has gotten lodged somehow in the trap of the drain pipe before flowing into the Neverland of the city sewer .  .  .  to no avail.

Stand-in for the Original
Stand-in for the Original

What story can you share about receiving a special piece of jewelry?

 

Have you ever lost something precious? A family heirloom?

 

We always learn something from your comments. Thank you!

Purple Passages: A Dragon with a Gift, April 2014

LILACS

LILACS

April is the cruellest month, breeding

Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing

Memory and desire, stirring

Dull roots and spring rain.

T. S. Eliot The Waste-Land

 

When Lilacs last in the dooryard bloom’d

And the great star early droop’d in the western sky in the night,

I mourn’d, and yet shall mourn with every-returning spring.

Ever-returning spring, trinity sure to me you bring,

Lilac blooming perennial and drooping star in the west,

And thought of him I love.

 

Walt Whitman, elegy commemorating the death of Lincoln, 1865

 

EASTER

Easter is very important to me, it’s a second chance.  ―  Reba McEntire

Do not abandon yourselves to despair. We are the Easter people and hallelujah is our song.    ― Pope John Paul II

 

LAUGHTER

Laughter is the shock absorber that eases the blows of life.    (Unknown)

Laughter is a tranquilizer with no side effects.  ―  Arnold H. Glasgow

 

WORK

Nothing is really work unless you would rather be doing something else. ―  J. M. Barrie

When you can’t figure out what to do, it’s time for a nap.    ― Mason Cooley

 

CHALLENGE

Challenge is a dragon with a gift in its mouth. Dragon and Gift_final_shade+color_crop_5x5_300

Tame the dragon and the gift is yours.

Noela Evans, on persevering through problems, endurance

Shakespeare says it another way, but with a toad:  Sweet are the uses of adversity which, like the toad, ugly and venomous, wears yet a precious jewel in his head. 

READING

Reading gives us someplace to go when we have to stay where we are. ― Mason Cooley

One rainy Sunday when I was in the third grade, I picked up a book to look at the pictures and discovered that even though I did not want to, I was reading. I have been a reader ever since.   ― Beverly Cleary

Marian Reading_14mos._2x4_300 THE  FUTURE

The best thing about the future is it comes one day at a time.  ― Abraham Lincoln

 *   *   *

Do you believe a challenge is a dragon with a gift in its mouth? A story about this that comes to mind . . . ?

What category can you add a quote to? 

What other topics would you like to see in this monthly feature, Purple Passages?

Coming next: Mennonite Flashback III: Rabbits and Rings

2 Easter Vignettes: Sacred and Sentimental

* Poem for Easter – British poet George Herbert loved to explore the soul’s inner architecture. He often wrote poems with shapes representing a theme, the resurrection in this case. The poetic lines, “increasing and decreasing to imitate flight,” also mimic the spiritual experience of rising and falling.

Easter WingsVertical_poem_4x5_300

Then viewed vertically the poem displays images of two butterflies, symbols of new life: Emblem poetry (technopaegnia) printed in a shape that reflects the subject of the poem.

Manuscript from the Bodleian Collection, Oxford University, 1633
Manuscript from the Bodleian Collection, Oxford University, 1633

Since by long centuries of custom the date of Easter is annually determined from the first Sunday after the full moon on or after March 21, the intertwining of physical and spiritual seasons is virtually inevitable.

Wisdom in Waiting: Spring’s Sacred Days by Phyllis Tickle

* Easter parade at Rheems Elementary School

My Mennonite school teacher, Miss Ruth Longenecker, was an artist. Though she dressed plainly with hair in a bun and a standard regulation prayer covering, her life brimmed with color, design, and pageantry. She painted in oils, preserving the old sycamore tree by the bridge at the old Martin home place on canvas:

Sycamore tree and bridge along lane leading up to the Martin farm Oil painting by Ruth Martin Longenecker
Sycamore tree and bridge along lane leading up to the Martin farm       Oil painting by Ruth Martin Longenecker

In her classroom at Christmas time was a tall tree laden with brilliant bulbs and glistening tinsel at school, though Mennonites were discouraged from having worldly Christmas trees at home. For St. Patrick’s Day, my classmates and I wore Derby hats and huge green shamrocks. But Easter was a real blow-out. Students brought hats and silky flowers from home to add to the creative collection (pasted, stapled, sewed). We paraded up and down the village streets near Rheems Elementary School, our teacher preserving the frivolity on her 16 mm movie film. Even the boys wore hats, some even more flower-encrusted than the girls.

Hand-made millinery on display at Rheems Elementary School
Hand-made millinery on display at Rheems Elementary School

Thank you for commenting. You can count on me to reply.

The conversation continues . . . .

Coming Monday: Guest post on Mary Gottschalk’s blog: Flying the Coop: Leaving Mennonite Land

Easter at Grandpa Martin’s Farm: Freshest Eggs Ever

Easter eggs on the farm? Why sure – Fresh eggs from Aunt Sue’s chicken pen, popped into her kettle of water brought to a boil in the kitchen. And then in short order, eggs cooling on the counter soon ready for us to paint. With paint wands made of little wisps of cotton wrapped around tooth-picks, my sisters and I with all the other little cousins make squiggly lines, circles and scallop shapes on the curvy shells, filling them in with rainbow colors.  Sometimes we even add little bunny or flower stickers. But all that artistry happens after devouring the Easter ham.

Easter egg dyeGrandma Longenecker’s sister Aunt Sue Martin, who never married, lived on the farm and took care of Great-Grandpa Sam after his wife Mary died. I’m about six now, and Easter dinner is celebrated around the table at the old home place in Dauphin County close to Middletown, PA. Families of Uncle Joe, Uncle Frank, and Grandma surround the table laden with ham, turkey, home-preserved vegetables, and finally desserts. The clucking of chickens and a few dog barks offer background sound to the talk, usually about politics and family matters. Before or after the meal, Aunt Sue, actually my great aunt, feeds her other hungry brood, here with my sister Janice.

Women learn early that anything that is alive is a potential and probable responsibility.

Phyllis Tickle, The Graces We Remember: Sacred Days of Ordinary Time (61)

After the drowse-inducing pies and puddings, it is picture posing time. Aunt Ruthie with her new-fangled movie camera captures various relatives posing on the porch.

Grandpa Sam, my Dad, Cousin Leonard, Uncle Joe
Grandpa Sam, my Dad, Cousin Leonard, Uncle Joe

And then we play some more. Make up our own fun. Just the collie dog, a wagon, and the wide open meadows down by the creek are all it takes to keep us happy!

GrandpaSamWagonSnapshot000020
Marian and sister Janice with her dolly on Easter

Do your Easter memories include attending a church service? Eating a meal with relatives? Painting eggs? Hunting for Easter eggs?

What do you think of the quote by author Phyllis Tickle?

EggShells

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!

GossHats

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.

2ChristArose

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

What are your memories of this season?

Mom’s Kitchen: Pig Stomach and Easter Eggs

My Mother loved her kitchen with a spiritual passion and was happiest at the altar of her stove, cooking or baking. We’d hear her off-key voice singing “Heavenly Sunlight” or “Keep on the Sunny Side” as she fixed breakfast while we dressed and braided our hair for school.

Her mother, Sadie Landis Metzler, died when she was nine, so Ruth, the oldest daughter of six, was the mini-mom milking cows and peeling potatoes before she went to school. Later, she was hired out to help another farm wife, who taught her to cook, instilling a love for fresh or home-canned ingredients with PA Dutch recipes.

Mom and Pig’s Stomach

These days when I fly home from Florida, we make a feast of her famous homemade soups (vegetable & chicken corn) and other dishes, including pig stomach. It sounds horrible, like goose liver or pickled pig’s feet, but it’s considered a delicacy at her house.

2002RuthPotatoes_small

There are other names for this dish: hog maw, Dutch goose—but pig stomach is the name we grew up with. Basically, a nicely rinsed stomach from a pig is stuffed with a pound of sausage, 8 large diced potatoes, some onion, and sprigs of parsley cut up in tiny pieces, then all ingredients oven-roasted.

MomPigStomach     MarkPigStomach

Mom’s stand-by side dish is peas & carrots for color, celery in season, and something fruity for dessert like her gelatin fruit salad, a recipe passed around among the relatives.

Mother L_Gelatin Fruit Salad_Fr&Bk_6x6_300

Her Salmon Casserole is also a favorite at her table. There are variations of this recipe in Mennonite Community Cookbook by Mary Emma Showalter. Scottdale, PA: The Mennonite Community Association, 1972 (16th printing). My Mom’s own recipe is quick and hearty.

 

2010_Mother Longenecker_Baking Salmon Loaf_6x4_300Salmon Casserole: Ingredients:

1 can red salmon

1 pack or more of saltine crackers, crumbled

butter, 3 – 4 pats

2 cups milk

Snipple up (break into small pieces) salmon from the can. Place a layer of crushed cracker crumbs on the bottom of a greased 2-3 quart casserole. Alternate layers of salmon with crumbled crackers, adding a little salt and pepper as you go. Add milk. “Top off with a few hunks of butter,” she says.

Bake about an hour at 350 degrees.

 

Chocolate-covered  Eggs: Peanut Butter and Coconut, a treat every Easter in the 50s

Peanut Butter Eggs

1 lb. butter + 2 lbs. peanut butter  + 3 lbs. 10x sugar  Mix ingredients together and form into egg shapes, about 1 1/2 inches diameter.

Coconut Cream Eggs

1/4 lb. butter + 8 oz. cream cheese + 2 lbs.10x sugar + coconut to taste (8 oz. bag) Follow instructions above.

Coating: l lb. of semi-sweet chocolate melted. Mother would melt a pound of semi-sweet chocolate by sinking a cup of chocolate into a pan of boiling water; you may want to use something more up-to-date like a double boiler for the melting process. As the chocolate melted, she shredded in some paraffin for a glossy finish to the coating.

Mom made the candies by resting each egg on a fork, dipping it into the chocolate, and then using a knife to scrape the drippy chocolate off the bottom of the egg. Pure heaven!

What family favorites do you associate with a particular holiday? How have you adapted the recipes to your own table?

© Marian Beaman