Mama’s Easter Parade: Reflections on Love, Faith and Shiny Shoes

On Saturday, the week before Easter we made our annual trip to Waycross to Schreiber’s Bootery to buy shoes.  Mama preferred that Mr. Schreiber himself wait on us because, “he won’t sell you a pair of shoes that don’t fit.”  

Shoes were important to my mother, but not because she loved shoes.  Growing up in the depression, she wore shoes that were simply too small.  

“I promised myself that my children would always have shoes that fit them.”  

The promise was one she kept. Shoes for all five girls were purchased there because “Mr. Schreiber knows shoes.”

The brand-new black patent leather shoes were so shiny that I could see my reflection.  

“Can I wear them home?”   

“No. These are your Sunday shoes.  We have to save them, so they’ll look good for church.” 

Our next stop, down the street from Scriber’s, was Penney’s.   There, we purchased lacy, white socks and white cotton gloves to complete our Easter ensembles.  

Afterward, we would dart into Kress’, so Mama could buy cashews and maple nut goodies for my Daddy.  We then waited in the car while she went into the Amspacher’s bakery for crème horns, a bonus to go with the cashews.

On the ride home, I took my black patent shoes out of the box. For a minute, I inhaled the new shoes smell, felt the smoothness of the patent leather, and wondered if I would have a new Easter dress this year.  

At Easter, the winter chill turns into the slight coolness of April.  The azaleas were in full bloom, perhaps a little too early, but still vibrant.  Like clockwork, Aunt Gussie would arrive with newly sewn dresses for my sisters and me.  

As she clicked the gold latches on the worn tan suitcase, I anxiously watched as she pulled out the newly sewn clothes.  

First, everyone received a set of shorty pajamas.  

“Where are the dresses?” I wondered as I leaned over the heads of my younger sisters, trying to get a better look.  One year, Aunt Gussie made stylish black velvet dresses with rounded white collars for my sister, Sue, and me, which pleased us both.

On Easter morning, we would each find our pretty new dresses perfectly pressed and hanging in our closet.  Our shiny shoes, lacey socks, and prim white gloves were lined up on top of the deep freezer in the kitchen. 

Getting to church for a family of seven was quite an ordeal, and Easter was no exception.  The five of us would hurriedly dress in our new outfits with scratchy crinolines, eat our breakfasts and arrive our usual 5 minutes late for Sunday school. 

For the next 45 minutes, we listened to the reassuring story of Christ’s great love for us and His victory over death. Even now, some 58 years later, it’s this message, this memory, which helps to renew my hope each Easter day, a cornerstone of our family’s faith.

As we leave our Sunday school classes and head to sanctuary with Mama and Daddy in the lead, Mrs. Madeline Lott, stopped to remark to my mother.

“Gladys, I don’t know how you do it.  All five of these girls look like they just stepped off the band wagon.”  

When I heard her kind words, I was so proud – not only of my beautiful Easter outfit and the compliment – but proud of my mother who managed to pull off her own personal Easter parade with her five beautiful, beloved daughters, year after year.

Despite all the world’s uncertainty, may Easter bring the timeless promise of joy, hope and faith to you this year.