The Day After

The Day After  by Elizabeth McLaughlin
easterfourYears ago  I remember when Easter was a day to look forward to renewal. Renewal of the soul and also of wardrobe. My mother sewed grey dress up coats for the three girls, all matching buttons and tailored round collars. It was a lot of fun to shop at Alexanders for a straw hat that was embellished with artificial Spring flowers and black velvet ribbon. The shoes had to be for the most part white patent leather or red leather Mary Jane’s with matching handbags. White gloves were worn and handkerchiefs, small stuffed bunny or doll would become the contents of the bag. Early morning we would wake up to colorful cellophane adorned Easter baskets and stuffed bunnies. Chocolate eggs, jelly beans, a sugar egg that you looked inside to view a pictorial inside, butter cream eggs, all nested in straw. Easter Sunday mass was elegant, white lilies adorned the altar. The kids mass was held downstairs and the adults went upstairs. After mass we usually went to the Botanical Gardens to enjoy the beautiful Spring flowers and venture through the wooded trails to the Bronx River where the Saw Mill rest spot was located.  We would try to tower over the gate to capture viewing all the waterfalls  which lined the river bed. During the summer months this spot became a haven for refreshing oneself from the city heat.
selfcaptureToday, the Cycle Trail was quiet. It was a day to reflect on such memories and  spiritual renewal.  It was not traveled this time on Sunday because most gathered around ham or lamb at the dining room table. The silence of the woods became more than gratifying, peaceful with the air-filled up with soft chirping of birds, water gushing down rock lined beds.  On Saturday  I picked up a free ham at that grocery store, those shopping points do add up. The clerk at checkout was nice enough to point this freebie out to me. On Monday I will figure out how to cook it in the crock pot. With an internet search that figuring was easy, all I need is a can of pineapple and maple syrup. The reviews sounded positive so worth a wing, this is nothing like what my mother experienced to create a ham dinner that will last me for a week!

From the Bronx to Wichita Lineman

I remember the days when Sunday was church day. As kids the ritual would be to get all dressed up for mass and then take a walk at the Botanical Gardens or the Bronx Zoo. It was a break from school and focus on the nature surrounding our community. All of that slipped us by when families in droves exited the city life for the suburbs. Childhood friendships abruptly changed and lost connections became the new norm. It also meant going to public school for the first time and starting high school in the ninth grade at second semester. I remember not having a friend for a year and at a difficult teen age. That period of lack of friendships passed when Cindy invited me to her weekend party house bash. The parents went to Florida leaving trending Cindy to fend for herself. I believe that I was invited only because of my cool clothes that my parents purchased for me. No longer did my school wardrobe have to consist of a plaid skirt, white starched shirt and brown Oxford’s. I remember my mother taking me to Wanamaker’s at the Cross County Shopping Center and the Grand Concourse, Alexander’s. This was a really big event for me. I came home with a pair of brown leather boots, English rider style, orange long woolen skirt that buttoned down the front, a blue, black long skirt, turtle neck sweaters. And of course I did have my landlubber hip hugging denim jeans, striped and black bell bottoms. On my trip back to the Bronx, I met my sister for a shopping day and had purchased a pair of brown suede lace up boots and leather two-tone brown leather platform shoes. So I totally fit in with Cindy’s group that frequented the Bedford Village Green. The kids packed the house and it was overwhelming. A few of us squeezed into the kitchen half bath and this is where I met my best friend in high school, Susan and a boy named Todd. As we talked there was a huge calamity going on outside that bathroom door and kids started evacuating out onto the street. There was a major motorcycle accident and rumor quickly spread that it was a student from school. This party abruptly ended and the house emptied very fast as it had become quickly full. On Sunday, I sat in my small bedroom, looking out the window, gazing at the fall trees and dreamed of my friends at the Bronx, the park hangout and felt as if in a prison. I played on my record player over and over again a favorite Glen Campbell song, Wichita Lineman wondering why we ever left the Bronx.