Egg-stra special memories

Published 12:00 am Saturday, March 26, 2005

Easter is filled with traditions for most of us. Rising early to enjoy the beauty of an Easter sunrise service…lilies adorning church sanctuaries… a dinner of ham and all the trimmings with our family members… youngsters eagerly waiting on the arrival of Peter Cottontail on Easter morning and exciting egg hunts in the afternoon.

These are all a special part of this spring holiday. Family traditions bond us together and become an integral part of our treasured memories.

For one local family, an Easter gift from 1958 has become a favorite and much-used part of their annual celebration.

A wonderful Easter surprise

Over four-and-a-half decades ago, local toddler Kay Bowden was delighted to receive a very special Easter basket from two very special people – her much-loved aunt and uncle, Eloise and Leonard Kuczmarski of Mobile.

That two-year-old girl is now all grown up and a grandmother. And Kay Bowden Dean still treasures that big woven basket. Though its pink and green stripes are now rather faded, the basket is still quite sturdy and should last through many more Easters. The goodie-filled basket was given to Kay all the way back in 1958.

&uot;Aunt Eloise and Uncle Leonard were always the ‘neat’ aunt and uncle, you know – the ones you always loved to have come and visit you. We are still close to this day,&uot; says Dean, who is the manager of Main Street Movies and Tanning in downtown Greenville.

Mr. Kuczmarski was the display manager for the Mobile Sears and Roebuck Store back in those days. &uot;He had a special basket made up for Kay with all the finest Easter items Sears had to offer – it was the nicest basket, really something special, and nothing like the little ones we were used to. I was so impressed when I saw it,&uot; says Deana’s mother, Carolyn Bowden.

Kodak memories

While Dean says she can’t remember much about that special Easter, a Kodak Brownie snapshot from that holiday morning shows a smiling youngster decked out in her frilly Easter finery, happily hugging a big, cuddly stuffed bunny.

&uot;Before we could get a picture of her with the basket, she just had to rip open that cellophane and get that bunny rabbit out…she was anxious to get to her goodies,&uot; laughs Bowden.

Changing hands

That basket would be become a treasured hand-me-down for the family. When Kay felt she was too old to go Easter egg hunting, her younger sister Janet Bowden (Leger), five years her junior, took over use of the basket.

After that, the Easter basket was tucked away in the Bowden closet for a number of years. Kay grew up, got married, and along came little Adelaide into the picture.

Adelaide Daniel Case became the second generation of Bowden kin who used the basket to gather eggs for the big hunt each year.

And waiting in the wings was Amanda Daniel, also five years younger than her big sister. Amanda then used the basket each Easter until she, too, decided she was too &uot;grown up&uot; for such holiday games.

For a while, the basket went back into the closet, out of sight but never forgotten.

Now the third generation of Bowdens is enjoying the decades-old Easter basket.

When Anzley Williamson, Adelaide’s little girl, came into the world, the basket was passed on for her use.

&uot;The first year she used it, both I and her great-grandmother were able to go egg hunting with her, so that made it really special,&uot; says Dean.

Dean says she is very glad she heeded her mother’s advice to look after the basket. &uot;At least for once, I really listened to my mom, and that’s why the basket is still in good condition after all this time. I did take care of it.&uot;

Bowden is also happy her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren – five little girls through three generations – still treasure the special Easter basket. &uot;It’s become a real family tradition – something we’ve kept up with and taken pride in all these years.&uot;

Once eight-year-old Anzley decides she’s outgrown this Easter tradition, the basket will likely return to the Bowden closet. There it will wait patiently in the wings for another child, perhaps another generation, to come along and enjoy the heady delights of hunting for those pretty colored eggs in Mr. Jim’s pasture each spring.

&uot;It’s just something that’s come to mean a lot to us,&uot; says Bowden with a smile.

"I know it's not valuable in the sense of being worth a lot of money - but I sure have a sentimental attachment to it," adds Dean.