CHOCOLATE SOUP By Darlene Buechel

In 1968, Easter preparations started on Saturday when MomSupervised egg-dyeing. Mom boiled a few dozen eggs and while they cooled, Dennis, DianeAnd I gathered supplies including broken crayons, dye tablets, andVinegar. We dropped a colored tablet in each of six bowls, addedBoiling water and vinegar, and then stirred to make tablets fizz andColors pop. Before using a spoon to carefully dip an egg into one of thePretty pastel colors, I’d grab a crayon and neatly print “Darlene” onOne egg. Dennis and Diane followed suit. That way, when we huntedOn Easter morning we’d be sure to snag the right basket. Being 8-years-old, I was an Easter veteran, but I was quick toRemind younger sister Diane of the rules: 1. If you find someone else’s basket quietly put it back(without stealing eighteen jelly beans) and continue the hunt. 2. If your basket isn’t found by fifteen minutes before churchYou have to continue looking after church. That year I was the un-lucky looker who didn’t find her basketBefore church so I spent the whole hour at St. Mary’s plotting myHunt. The next Easter was a different story since I was lucky enoughTo find my basket first. I was jumping up and down and ogling theBig chocolate rabbit in my basket when Mom and Dad told us to getDressed. Diane and I donned new ruffled dresses and pinned whiteDoilies on our heads while Dennis grumbled his way into dress pantsAnd jacket. I proudly left my basket in the sun porch before heading out the door. Dennis and Diane pouted the whole three blocks to church, but IMerrily skipped into the bright April sunshine even though my newWhite patent leather shoes pinched a little. After church mySiblings ran ahead but I was content to walk between Mom and DadSince I’d already found my basket and huge, chocolate bunny. As I skipped up the porch steps I figured Dennis found his tooSince he was laughing his head off. “Hungry for chocolate soup?” Dennis laughed. I guessed he was being a ding-a-ling since our Easter menuIncluded ham, mashed potatoes, and lime green Jell-O — never soup. One look at Dennis’ pointed finger made me realize the trueDing-a-ling was the girl who left her Easter basket out on the sunPorch on a very sunny day. My beautiful chocolate rabbit was now aChocolate puddle. Dennis finally stopped laughing when Mom threatened to make himTrade rabbits with me. After that, Diane gave a joyful screech asShe pulled her basket from its cozy hiding spot. After lunch, when we were finally allowed to dig into ourBaskets, I opened my chocolate puddle box. When I broke off a pieceAnd popped it in my mouth, I couldn’t help but smile as I realized itWas still yummy and sweet — just like most of my childhood EasterMemories.

Easter Prayer

An Easter Prayer

God, give us eyes to see
The beauty of the Spring,
And to behold Your majesty
In every living thing.

And may we see in lacy leaves
And every budding flower
The Hand that rules the universe
With gentleness and power.

And may this Easter grandeur
That Spring lavishly imparts
Awaken faded flowers of faith
Lying dormant in our hearts.

And give us ears to hear, dear God,
The Springtime song of birds
With messages more meaningful
Than man’s often empty words.

Telling harried human beings
Who are lost in dark despair
‘Be like us and do not worry
For God has you in His care.’

By…©Helen Steiner Rice



Easter, Glorious, sunny, crisp, everything-is-new Easter.That’s what I remember when I think about Easter when I was growing upIn Pennsylvania. The anticipation of going to Robert Hall’s to buy a new dress and coatWas almost overwhelming. We didn’t get new clothes very often, but it wasSome sort of unwritten law that you must show up in church on EasterMorning radiant in a pristine outfit. Finding that perfect dress (straightSkirt? Crinoline?) was a time-consuming affair. Then you needed a light coat. Not a bulky, overstuffed drab coat thatWas serviceable enough until you outgrew it, but a lovely, light pastelFrock that just might not be warm enough, but one that you would wear noMatter what — blizzard or heatwave. Then a hat! Oh, the joy! Several dressing tables would be set up soYou could perch that little veil (or some years, a wide brim) over yourTeased curls and decide which one was YOU. Of course, it had to match theCoat. Shoes were important, so mom would march me off to the footwearDepartment. I almost always ended up with flats, with a strap across theFoot to anchor it securely. How I longed for heels, which would make meTaller than my friends, causing others to think I was older than I trulyWas, and make me every inch the sophisticate. Do you remember having your shoes dyed to match your outfit? FashionHad reached its pinnacle! If you were lucky, you also got a matchingHandbag. Now, church handbags were different than everyday handbags. TheyWere usually small clutch bags, perhaps with a rhinestone clasp. As longAs they were large enough to hold a comb, a real handkerchief, andLipstick, they were big enough. And gloves. Discreet, white, ladylike, dainty gloves. I would searchUntil I found some that had tiny pearls or gathers across the back of theHand — certainly not plain gloves for me! I still have some of these dinosaurs in my closet, and I enjoy tryingThem on. After returning from church, where I obediently sat still, straightAnd silent, we returned home, where I would find an Easter basket. EveryTiny piece of candy and chenille chicks had to be removed to be certain IHadn’t missed anything. Jelly beans were sorted out from chocolate, andMental rationing began. But the one thing I miss most about those Easters is my chick. I can’t remember not getting a chick each Easter. The dime store soldThem in huge rainbow flocks for oh, about 19 cents. The colors wereRemarkable! Fuschia, purple, dark green, blue, and orange — each was toBe admired in its own way. You received a small sack of feed with your chick, and away you wentTo create a habitat. I loved the little chicks, and would tuck them upUnder my hair, where they’d contentedly snuggle down and sleep. We usuallyPut our chick in a laundry basket with a crumpled towel in the bottom, andOne covering the top when night fell. Later we’d drift off to sleep to theTune of tiny peeps that got weaker and weaker until the little darlingDrifted off. We used a lot of tissue cleaning up everywhere after theChick, and eventually they’d begin to sprout real feathers and grow out ofThe cute stage. There would come a day when I’d return home from school toBe told that the chicken just wandered off. Was I so gullible? I just accepted the verdict, and life went on. Years later, I realized that mom had probably dropped my chicks off atThe farm near the 3M Company. We had occasionally gone by there to see theAnimals. Had I looked closely, perhaps I would have seen the random orangeFeather peeking out from underneath a majestic coat! And panoramic eggs! Specialty shops still carry them, but you rarelySee a hollowed-out sugar egg with a little scene inside today. They wereEdible, but how could you destroy such a work of art? Ah, the memories of spring and Easter. Those WERE the good old days!