Seeing an advertisement for Peeps and other Easter basket stuffers prompted the surfacing of what might well be my earliest Holy Week memory.
I presume it was a fad of sorts, dying baby chicks various hues of green, blue, yellow and pink for I remember seeing them only once - in the spring of 1948 just before Easter running around in the front window of Burns Hardware in Sumter, SC. My paternal grandparents lived in the very heart of town in a three story home attached to the jail; like his father before him, Papa was the jailer in this very agriculturally oriented community. Burns Hardware was located a short block away on Main Street and in its environs a little city fellow's curiosity could be kindled to a blaze by foreign sights and smells - next to spending the night with my cousins who lived on a farm outside of town, walking hand in hand with Papa into the wonderland that was Burns Hardware highlighted my every visit during those pre-school years.
But that spring my attention was captured by the brood of multi-colored chicks before I even crossed the store's threshold - I had never seen anything like that before . . . we dyed eggs at our house for Easter, not baby chickens! And to Mr. Burns delight, I just had to have one - Papa counseled against it: "Mammy isn't going to let you take it inside" - "your parents aren't about to let you take it home" - and then the unkindest cut of all, "it's going to die just like that blue one over in the corner." Ignoring the two little blue legs reaching for the sky and casting logic to the wind, as little boys are apt to do, I set about wearing Papa down; sure enough, he finally gave me a dime and I walked back to the jail carrying a little cardboard box containing the only other blue chick in the window.
Two of Papa's prophesies were immediately fulfilled: I couldn't take it inside and I couldn't take it home; but as luck would have it, a solution to my dilemma was at hand - that evening Papa and I were already planning to drive out to the country to spend the night; knowing that my uncle had a big chicken coop and lots and lots of chickens, I would give the chick to my cousins. As soon as my cousins saw the blue chick in the cardboard box, they exclaimed in unison, "It's going to die; the other chickens will peck it to death!" "Why?" I asked. "Because it's different!" And they were right.
Neither Papa nor Mr. Burns had attempted to explain the connection between Easter and those dyed chicks - perhaps they saw none - and after a few short hours I was no longer interested; my attention had shifted from the novelty in the store window to the murder taking place in the coop before me. Now some six plus decades later I'm pondering a possible connection, not to Easter but to Good Friday. Strange, that people could be so much like chickens!
Some memories pass as quickly as a wispy spring breeze; those that linger for later pondering were invariably etched by events which disrupted normalcy and caught us a bit by surprise . . . one doesn't see a blue chick every day! Etching an Easter memory was my intention when I donned a chef's hat and apron to explain Christ's empty tomb to Cross Schools students during their pre-Easter chapel; perhaps the video will linger with you as well.
In His Service and for His glory,