It’s a bit of a morose group for an Easter Sunday, circa sometime in the late 1960s. Despite the background, this is not a cell block. On the right is the asbestos-laden fake brick siding on the unheated room we called the shanty at the back of my grandmother’s house in Niagara Falls. The wall on the left is the beer distributor warehouse next door. In summer, the wall is fronted by tall tomato plants with swollen red fruit.
It can’t be any day other than Easter with us dressed like that. Dresses and suits required. We’d already gone to Mass and found our Easter baskets. Maybe at this age we were hunting only for eggs, because we lived in a small house and there weren’t enough good hiding places for five baskets with five candy-loving kids on the hunt. But there were plenty of small, insane places to stash an egg, thanks to my father’s sadistic tendencies: our Easter baskets lined up in plain view on the dining room table but no touching them until you find your egg. My mother saved me a few times from my fruitless searching: David, could you get me the jar of Romano cheese from the fridge? We used a lot of grated cheese in our house, on spaghetti and lasagna and to make meatballs and meatloaf, but we didn’t use it on Easter morning. Um, okay, Mom, I’ll get you the jar. There was my egg, buried in the cheese. Take that, Dad!
We would have a ham at my grandma’s, or some years a dish of veal cutlets in a roasting pan with dandelion greens and a layer of eggy custard that sounds weird and tasted like heaven, and we’d spend some time hanging out in the yard, but not doing much because we wouldn’t want to ruin our good clothes.