This morning, with any luck, the Easter Bunny is kicking up his heels in Aruba (or wherever rabbits vacation). Hopefully, you’ve got a basket of goodies, too, and — wait, where’s your chocolate bunny? Always keep an eye on your chocolate bunny. You’ll see why.
We asked you to share your stories of Easters past and, as usual you did not disappoint.
Enjoy, and happy Easter.
For Easter 1964, Kathleen Brossette Jones’ mama, with Kathleen in tow, headed to New Orleans’ Circle Food Store and loaded up for the younger kids in her family. On the way home, they stopped by Aunt Genie’s.
“Now, I’m not saying my Mama talked a lot, but does the term ratchet jaw ring a bell?” Jones, of Slidell, writes. They returned home to Arabi to find their 20 pounds of candy suffered terribly in the trunk of their Chevy.
“Mama hid the mess under the faux grass in the baskets,” Jones writes. “In the morning, when the kids saw what looked like empty baskets, Mama told them that the bunny was being extra sneaky this year and to look real good. Well, they were so happy to find any candy at all that they didn’t care what shape it was in.”
Sam Sammartino, of Gonzales, knew exactly what shape he wanted his candy in — the sweet ovals of Elmer’s Heavenly Hash, Gold Brick and Pecan Eggs.
“It came as a complete surprise in 1971, while on my first tour in the Air Force, that Elmer’s candy was not a national product,” the New Orleans native writes. On Holy Thursday, he got a surprise care package from home. “I could not wait to open the box, so I sat down on the steps of the post office and began ripping the paper off,” Sammartino writes. “Nestled in the Easter grass were my sweet treats of Heavenly Hash, Gold Brick and Pecan Eggs, oh my ...”
Be right back. Gotta run to the store.
For the littlest of us, bunnies can be scary. When Carol Smith’s grandchildren were young, they bought them an Easter bunny cake. Casie, her granddaughter, loved it, but baby Jordan had his doubts. “Thankfully,” the Baton Rouge woman writes, “he wasn’t as unhappy about the Easter basket.”
Another fact of life? Kids are usually smarter than adults give them credit for. Margaret Hawkins, of Ponchatoula, had access to a full-size Easter bunny costume and hatched a surprise for her granddaughter Lauren, 3.
“With some pre-planning, Mom ‘saw’ an Easter bunny lurking in the yard and hustled Lauren outside,” Hawkins writes. “Sure enough, a bunny peeked around the workshop and disappeared, leaving only jelly beans and some colored eggs in its wake.” He peeked out a second time, this time leaving an Easter basket for Lauren. Mom and daughter watched the bunny disappear into the neighbors’ yard.
Wide-eyed, Lauren said, “I think the Easter bunny has shoes just like Daddy.”
Good eye, Lauren.
Welcome to Louisiana, bunny
For much of the country, Easter arrives in a splendid spring style, with warm breezes and pleasant sunshine. But in south Louisiana, we slip into summer early and the heat can wreak havoc on candy.
Barbara LeBlanc, of St. Amant, recalled how much her father liked Easter candy. He bought it in bulk. The older kids learned to snoop for the stash, so Dad got “the best idea” to hide the candy in the attic. Of course it melted, and the night before Easter, “he dashed out of the house after we went to sleep to rebuy all of the Easter candy at a local drug store.”
When it comes to Easter baskets, competition can get cutthroat.
Jill Joaquin Hopkins is exacting some revenge on her candy-stealing brother right this second. “I never dreamed my brother would do this,” Hopkins writes, “but since he confessed … I do remind him of this incident every now and then. But since I am able to write this in The Advocate, I feel this is the greatest payback!”
Debbie Lambert, of Prairieville, remembers the Easter her little sister made out like a bandit. Debbie and her brother, Al, got their baskets full of candy but had to abstain from enjoying them so they could receive the Eucharist at Mass. Upon their return, they found their baskets “in a shamble. Easter grass and eggs all tumbled together and some of the eggs were half eaten and pressed back into the grass.” Little sister Lynn, too young for Mass, was sick the rest of the day from gorging on everyone’s candy.
Patricia Lemoine’s brother was particularly sneaky. Instead of the Easter Bunny hiding candy, in Patricia’s Plaucheville family, the kids hid their baskets from Uncle Cleve and his sweet tooth. One Easter Sunday, her brother sweetly placed a basket at Uncle Cleve’s feet and asked if he’d like some. To her horror, he had her basket. “I watched helplessly as my uncle ate piece after glorious piece of chocolate with an expression of pure pleasure on his face,” writes Lemoine, who now lives in Baton Rouge. “Did my brother get in trouble? Nah, only a simple reprimand. But don’t worry. I have had plenty of time to get my brother back.”
Sometimes sibling shenanigans leave mom and dad holding the basket. Robert and Debra Lailheugue, of Springfield, tell this story about her “mischievious” son, 6, and her daughter, 3. Their baskets would always have a big chocolate rabbit, a few dollars, candy eggs, dyed eggs and jelly beans. Next to each basket, the bunny would always leave a stuffed animal for each of them.
On this Easter morning, the Lailheugues were awakened by screams about a very mean Easter Bunny.
“We went into the living room to find the two baskets right where we had left them the night before,” they wrote. “My son’s basket contained two large chocolate rabbits, all the money, all the candy eggs and two stuffed animals. My daughter had a basket full of boiled eggs and jelly beans.”
The 6-year-old stuck to his guns that the Easter Bunny left them this way. Faced with unveiling the bunny’s true identity, the Lailheugues said the overwrought and very busy rabbit surely intended the loot to be shared. “Tranquility was returned,” they write.
That was a close one.
Of mice and bunnies …
1952 had not been a good year for Judi Stout’s family. Money was tight on the farm, the Baton Rouge resident writes, and her parents were doing the best they could with baskets filled with shredded newspaper, homemade potato candy, Grandma’s rabbit-shaped cookies and some chocolate ducks from a neighbor. On Easter morning, the kids were given clues to find their Easter baskets. Five-year-old Judi eventually found her basket, but the mice got there first and nibbled on everything in it.
“Stinging from the events, I was trotted off to Easter morning service. We arrived and headed down the aisle. As we slid into our usual pew, there in the center of our seat sat this beautiful, huge, store-bought Easter basket brimming with store-bought candy — candy styles that I didn’t even know existed,” Stout remembers. “A tag dangled from the side, Mom read it to me: ‘To Judi, please enjoy these before the church mice find them.’?”
Her Sunday school teacher heard of her plight and “couldn’t stand to see me disappointed.”
Excuse me, I’ve got something in my eye.
Debbie Pennison, of Marrero, also ran into mouse trouble. When she was 4, her family visited her grandmother on the farm for Easter. She worried the bunny wouldn’t be able to find her 150 miles from home, but he did. And so did a mouse.
“That mouse had a very busy night because it took all the candy out of our baskets and hit it under the freezer,” she writes.
Grandpa knows best
In the 1950s, Beverly Hess’ father-in-law, James, learned to make candy and eventually used his skill to supplement his teaching income in Pennsylvania.
“Every Easter and Christmas, Grandpa would make chocolate bunnies and Santas for all the grandkids and mail them to us. The adults got chocolate-covered Easter eggs filled with maple walnut creme, coconut or peanut butter. He also made peanut butter cups, turtles and a thin chocolate with nuts that he called ‘bark’,” writes Hess, who lives in Baton Rouge.
Before Grandpa Hess passed away last year, some of the family members gathered in his basement for a candy-making lesson and it was decided that sister-in-law Sheryl would continue the tradition.
Let us give you our address, Beverly and Sheryl, but beware of the hot vehicles, Aunt Genie’s house, siblings, Uncle Cleve and mice.
Follow Beth Colvin on Twitter, @bethcolvinreads.