03 April 2010

craving coconut cake

I can just see my Mother rushing about on Saturday putting the finishing touches on my Easter outfit. One year she sewed a linen shift, cream with blue trimmings and a blue linen cape to match. I'm sure a hat was involved- or maybe just a new ribbon for my hair. Beautifully turned out-except for the white patent leather shoes-of course they should have been cream-but clearly-that wasn't happening.

Mother sewed for me- Daddie shopped for me. He always leaned toward sailor ensembles. There was a sporty navy jacket with brass buttons and pleated skirt-a stripe top,  finished off with a white beret-red, white and blue ribbons streaming from the side. I loved that hat. Yes, tailored sailor suits for his little girl- after all he was a Naval man.

As evidenced by the cape, Mother preferred something more feminine. But then again navy blue seemed to be a  style choice both parents embraced. A spiffy navy and white hounds tooth spring coat with matching dress that boasted a very smart bib front made of crisp white organdy ruffles. A white bowler  finished off this look and worked the white patents , but I wore the black, so I could carry my favourite handbag-granted that was the only one I owned at the time.

I am sure the Boys (my brothers) got new ties or something like that.

Mother was busy during this holiday-besides doing wardrobe- every Easter she always baked a coconut cake. Her artistry knew no bounds. Having studied art at UNC-G back in the day, our coconut cakes were quite painterly.
Not just any coconut cake but one that looked just like an Easter bunny-Didn't everyone have one? Yes, an Easter bunny cake-replete with jelly beans made from scratch.
 It followed-Easter =New Dress= Coconut Cake.
The coconut cake's decoration evolved as her children grew older.
The bunny turned into a fresh green (coconut food coloring) lawn (a sheet cake) and flower buds  (jelly beans) hidden in the landscape (icing).
Mother no longer bakes-in fact-she never was a baker-but come Easter, come Coconut Cake.

 just like this-it's lovely really but Mother is an artist
and Our Bunny was quite painterly (the cake from here)

Corsages were the thing that said Easter. Occasionally my Grandmother would make one for my Mother and me, oft times the florist was called in and corsages were dropped off on Saturday. Flowers to match please! Something just perfect for a sailor! My mother looked particularly beautiful on these Easter Sunday mornings. None of the hectic Saturday "wardrobe mistress" showed, nor the evening rounds of Sunday school lessons and overseeing my Saturday night shampoo, set, and style. Mother always looked right- whether dressing up in the nautical style we so embraced, or wearing a yellow two piece slub linen suit. A yellow just the colour of the hundreds of living  peeps (not the marshmallow kind) at my great grandmother's over the last few weeks prior to Easter.

The formidable Ma Ma & her daughter Eustean raised chickens-hence, little biddy-peeps were always popping up to strengthen the brood. The kitchen was prime real estate for the appliance size boxes full of chicks. That country kitchen housed a massive much used wood burning cook stove and assured the chirping yellow masses would be warm-toasty even. Holding them as tightly as allowed, I thought of the sad little purple and greens biddys I had seen at the dime store.
Did they ever survive?
They looked so sad-I pitied those little peeps.
Poor peeps- likely their fate was no different from Ma Ma's chicks, or for that matter my brother's pet duck, "Mustard," whose life was "cut short" when he went to live with Ma Ma. Ma Ma & Tean were of sturdy German stock, little sentiment was allowed when it came to a pet duck versus a savory Sunday lunch on the table, but that's another story.

After my new wardrobe took in Sunday services, a long awaited Easter Egg hunt at Naomi and Lewis's (my grandparents-they liked to be call by their first names) commenced; hidden eggs, cousins, and a  prize. I don't remember what the prize was, probably money. I never won, but with each egg I collected, dozens of Easter memories were being put away for a day like today, when nothing but a new hat, and coconut cake will do.

Happy Easter-whatever your preferences might be.

(last year's little augury Easter Posts here and here)


  1. My Mother made a Lamb coconut cake, and at Christmas it was a Rudolph, with chocolate and a cherry nose. Funny how the holiday traditions provide memories for a lifetime.

  2. Lovely, LA! A joy to reminisce with you! Happy Easter. XO Trish

  3. Too darling, darling. Happy Easter to you and memories.

  4. I was just saying how much I like coconut - in sweet and savoury dishes. I think I would love your mother's cocnut Easter cake! (And I never eat cake!!)

  5. My husband's paternal grandmother Minnie (and the family swore her middle name was HaHa) raised chickens and rabbits for the table. This quiet, retiring woman apparently had quite the death grip on the neck thing. She was the one who made lamb cakes for Easter and her two grandson's birthdays. I continued the tradition about the lamb cakes, but lacked the ability or inclination to wring a chicken or snap a rabbit's neck. Being a bit older than you, I remember that for quite a few Easter years, the fashion was dresses with "dusters" (coats). And then came the petticoat police years when mothers made their daughters sit on the sofa before heading out to the car to go to church to tell if there were too many petticoats on. If you sat down and your dressed raised up revealing your ruffled underwear, you had to shed layers until a lady-like proportion had been reached. No wonder our mothers were baffled when we became the free spirits of the 60s.

  6. excellent writing... a novel begins?

  7. Great memories, indeed.
    Linen and patent and especially ---
    Coconut Cake !

    It must be a southern thing - I'm always shocked when non-southern friends give me a blank stare as
    I swoon over the mere mention
    of my moms coconut cake.


  8. Loved all your past and present Easter posts!Have a lovely and happy Easter!

  9. Sweet memories. I always remember the new outfits at Easter too - white on white dotted Swiss, and yellow linen with white embroidered sleeves were favorites. We woke to find filled baskets as children and also went for hunts at Grandma's. Hope you had your cake!



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