Writer’s Workshop: In Your Easter Bonnet, With Ice And Snow Upon It…

Yes, I’m aware that the prompt specifically asked for a winter memory, and that Easter is a spring holiday. However, this was Chicago, where winter can start as early as the middle of October and end as late as the middle of April, so I think I’m in the clear here.

Let’s set the WABAC machine for March 1964. The Holtons had moved the previous October to their apartment on Glenwood Avenue and are getting ready to celebrate Easter in their home there for the first time, and to celebrate the occasion (or maybe that was just what women did in 1964 around Easter), Mom bought herself a new hat. An Easter bonnet, if you will. And she was really looking forward to wearing it.

Mom in her Easter bonnet from 1964.

Well, to paraphrase an old Yiddish expression, “Mom plans, God laughs.”

The three of us got up on Easter morning, found our Easter baskets, and brought them into the living room, which featured a nice sunporch, an area surrounded on three sides by windows (a better name would be a sunroom or solarium, but we called it a sunporch in Chicago). And we looked out the window, and noticed it was snowing. Hard. Mom and Dad got up about an hour later, and my mother was furious. “I could spit green nickels!” she said. (That was what she said when she wanted to say something worse but we were in the room.)

Now, if you look at the weather for that day, you’ll notice that there was only 0.28″ (7mm) of precipitation. But, since the high temperature was only 26° (-3° C), it came in the form of snow, so you multiply that by 10 to come up with 2.8 inches of snow.

So, we bundled up, Mom in her fur coat and hat, and headed out to church, which was only a block away.

It could have been worse: that was the year that a magnitude 9.2 earthquake hit Alaska on Good Friday. We were happy it was just snow.

20 thoughts on “Writer’s Workshop: In Your Easter Bonnet, With Ice And Snow Upon It…

    1. Snow melts, at least, and really, less than 3 inches of snow was nothing for Chicago. I just remember Mom being really upset about it.

      That was one hell of an earthquake, if you remember. I thought the ’89 quake in California was bad, and that was just a 6.3. That makes the Alaska one eight times worse.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Nice picture of your mother. I wonder who the head belongs to in the lower right corner of the picture???? “Spit green nickels” – haven’t heard that expression in a long time.


    1. As far as I can tell, it was taken at Patsy Nagle’s christening, and Mom was standing with Alice’s other three girls, so probably Maureen. I’ll see if I can find the full picture.

      Mom was the only person I knew who wanted to spit green nickels…


  2. I’m from Indiana, a little southwest of Indianapolis. Chicago snow didn’t always make it that far south, but it probably did that year. I was about 7 or 8 at the time. I don’t remember news about the earthquake in Alaska, but I was a kid and probably in bed by the time my folks watched the late news.People were far less news-aholic back then, since they only had the news broadcast on television at around 10 pm with maybe a mention on radio depending on what you listened to or, more likely, the next day’s morning paper to gets news. News media wasn’t in your face all the time. It had more integrity and was more reliable, too. I miss those days, particularly the integrity.


    1. I take it you’re not as far southwest as Jasper or Evansville. I spent some good times there working with a client a few years back.

      Ah, for the days of about 3 hours of news a day (if that)…


  3. I LIKE snow, but on Easter, even I don’t like snow. On Easter, the grass should be greening and the bulbs should be up and a nice blue sky should reign. It can snow Monday after!


    1. There have been Easters where it’s 80 degrees and sunny, and others where the weather is just terrible, and no rhyme or reason how it happens. John Powers, who wrote “The Last Catholic in America” and “Do Black Patent Leather Shoes Really Reflect up?” (two books about growing up Catholic in Chicago) noticed that, and called March “the final fart of winter.” And he’s right…

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Love your mom in her Easter bonnet…I heard Judy Garland singing Easter Parade while looking at that pic. It has snowed before at Easter and that made Easter quite cold. I was too young to remember the earthquake but I have seen documentaries about it and it was quite devastating.


    1. For comparison, the earthquake in the Bay Area in 1989 was a magnitude 6.3. The Alaska one was a 9.2, almost 8 times worse.

      When I was living in Chicago, it was anyone’s guess what the weather would be like on Easter. It’s really that way anywhere, when you think about it…


    1. I only ever heard my mother use it, but my uncle Jack said he remembered it, so maybe it was something my grandmother used to say. From what I remember of my grandmother Walkie (her real name was Genevieve, and my grandfather called her Wally, but I kept adding a “k” into it, and since I was the first grandchild it stuck), I can believe it.


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