Peeps for breakfast and no jelly beans during Mass

April 20, 2014 

Growing up, we had a few rules on Easter Sunday.

At the time, I didn't know they were rules, though.

It was just the way we did things every Easter Sunday, for years and years.

The upside was Easter was the only day of the year we could have chocolate-covered marshmallow eggs and yellow Peeps for breakfast.

The downside was we had to wear a new suit, tie and uncomfortable dress shoes. We thought our shiny new shoeswere black leather. In hindsight, they would have melted on the summer asphalt in a few more months.

Easter Sunday rules, circa 1967, in our little world of new Robert Hall suits and clearance Kinney Shoes:

Take it easy on the hard-boiled eggs before Mass, boys.Hard-boiled eggs, mixed with chocolate, did weird things to a boy's gastronomical system. We boys didn't need another reason to giggle in Mass, did we?

No jelly beans during Mass, either. We thought we were sneaky. But proof was our sweaty, chubby little hands being covered by a film of red, purple and black from nervously holding onto those beans too long.

A little dab'll do ya. Easter was the one day a year when we had to put a dab of Brylcreem or Vitalis in our hair. We always used way too much hair oil and looked like little Wayne Newtons. Easter Sunday was the one day of the year we kids smelled and looked like miniature church ushers -- suits, hair oil, English Leather.

No tennis shoes with our Easter suit. That was most painful. The PF Flyers or Chuck Taylors had to stay under the bed for a day.

Dark socks only. If we could find a matching pair. We had used them as gloves the last snowfall.

You have to wear a belt, boys. Our new suit pants usually were the wrong size. We shopped in the"Husky" department. To get a suit jacket that fit right meant the pants were about four sizes too large. We had to wear a belt or lose our britches.

No suspenders. I wore them once. Thought I was cool. But it was a long day. I had red, vertical stripes from my shoulders down to my waist until summer. My brothers had fun snapping them like they were rubber bands.

Tie must stay until after the big meal. But the clip-on tie never made it home. If it did, it got destroyed so we never had to wear another tie until next Easter Sunday.

The adults always got in the food line first. That was fine by us. It was amazing how much misbehaving we could do while the old folks were in line eyeing the ham and potato salad.

The following were banned while you're wearing your new Easter Sunday suit: sliding into second base, rolling into a bunker to avoid an imaginary grenade and wrestling with pet dog Roscoe.

No feeding chocolate eggs to the dog, please. We were warned not to give chocolate to Roscoe. Chocolate will kill him, we were told. Well, chocolate never killed him. Neither did the aluminum foil it was wrapped in. Ditto for the frozen pork chops he ate off the kitchen counter once. Styrofoam and plastic, too.

You could bring extra play clothes to the family gathering but you could not change into them until after the egg hunt or a marshmallow egg melted in your pocket.

You had to eat at least one vegetable, which is why we really liked marshmallows melted on the sweet potatoes.

You had to find your egg in the hunt, by yourself. Every kid for himself or herself. There was one egg per kid. Maybe a quarter inside. But a quarter bought a lot of gum.

You should not steal candy from the baskets of your brothers or cousins when they were not looking. Trades were fine, though.

It was Sunday. We listened to the Cardinals afternoon game on the radio. Jack Buck and Harry Caray. The game was always on somewhere. Somebody always knew the score. That somebody was me, usually. Chocolate ring around my mouth. Jelly bean stains on my hands.

I'll think about our old Easter Sunday rules today. The family kids in their new suits and dresses. The Easter egg hunts. I'll wonder what rules they'll remember decades from now.

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