Easter is pretty early this year and I’ve been remembering the new Easter outfits we all had every year. From the time I can first remember, and likely even before that, my sister and brothers and I had new outfits for Easter. For my sister and me that included coats, hats, gloves, pocketbooks, shoes, and dresses. In my family besides my parents, there are 5 of us, all born in just under 7 years. My sister is exactly 16 months older than I am. So that meant new outfits for 5 children plus two adults (or at least my mother, my father had business suits he could wear). This was in the 1950s and early 1960s, and for all but the last year or two my father was the only wage-earner. So with money being tight, many of our clothes (at least for my sister and me as well as my mother) were homemade.

I’m pretty sure that it started with our Grandma Cena (our mother’s mom) making clothes for us. She was an amazing seamstress and came from the time and place where women made most of the family clothing. Moreover, for the next 5+ years after I was born our mother was busy taking care of infants and toddlers, so I am guessing that Grandma continued to contribute in this way. We lived just far enough from Grandma and Grandpa that we didn’t get to see them very often so she couldn’t help out in other ways. It was always exciting when a box arrived from Grandma with new clothing. From the time I was about 7 or 8, however, Mom made our Easter outfits with Grandma continuing to whip up accessories and outfits for other times.

Margaret and me, 1950

Margaret and me, 1950

The earliest picture I have come up with so far is from 1950 when I was not quite 3. I don’t remember these outfits but have a half memory of getting the hats. Mine had navy velvet ribbon around the outer edge and I think we helped pick these out ourselves.

me and my big sister, June 1951

me and my big sister, June 1951

The first one I remember was a white dress with a separate organdy pinafore. My sister’s dress has been less clear in my memory’s eye, but I know for sure that it wasn’t scratchy like mine! I would often wear the pinafore by itself if it was hot, and it was stiff fabric that scratched. I don’t know for sure that these were Easter outfits but I’m pretty sure they were. This picture of the two of us in these dresses refreshed my memory a little about these dresses and confirms that we both had pinafores and that the pinafore was worn by itself on occasion.

Margaret and me, 1955

Margaret and me, 1955

By 1955 my mother was going all out on our outfits. That year she and my sister and I all had pink poodlecloth (that was what she called it) jackets. It was very cool and grown-up feeling to have jackets just like Mom’s. Our dresses were navy, and had permanent-pleated skirts and lace on the collars and appliqued to the fronts. In the picture you can also see the crocheted purses that Grandma Cena had sent (I think they were new that year).

The year after that (either 1956 or 1957, I think) we wore the jackets again but had blue dotted-swiss dresses with cummerbunds and lace on the tops. I’m guessing Easter might have been later that year, since the dresses

Margaret and Pat, maybe 1956

Margaret and Pat, maybe 1956

were sleeveless. Of course, we wore our Easter dresses to church and Sunday school all spring and summer.

About 1960

About 1960

The last Easter picture in this series shows my sister and me as young teenagers. By that time she and I were both making some of our own clothes and I suspect that my sister made this Easter dress for herself. I was in a shy phase about having my picture taken and so was making faces that day.

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