As most of you know, this column is "semi-dedicated" to stirring up those old, old memories from yesteryear. For me, yesteryear is the late fifties and early sixties. And even more specifically my memories of growing up in Chelsea, a small town that hovered in the area of slightly less than 400 people back then, depending of course on who came home for the weekend. When I graduated from the 8th grade in 1965, from St. Joseph's School, there were, (I think), thirteen in my class. From there, we ventured into a whole new way of life---High School in Tama/Toledo. One day I shall regale (or bore) you with my freshman year at South Tama in the old Toledo High School building, but I must get back to "A little boy and Lent."
The season of Lent is the time from Ash Wednesday till Easter Sunday. Forty days of preparation for the Resurrection of Jesus on Easter. Going to a Catholic school, Easter was a huge holiday or better still, Holy Day.. And at school, from Kindergarten and up, we prepared for Easter Sunday. Of course we had Easter Egg hunts, (in the park just off Main Street) and all of the other things kids enjoyed during Easter, but we were also taught about Lent!!
Forty days of agony! Now it's not really 40 days because Sundays weren't counted. And as little boys and girls at St. Joseph's, we were expected, (actually required) to "give up" something for Lent. The Nuns expected us to; the Priest expected us to; our Parents really expected us to; and to be honest, we as kids expected each of us to also. The big question was...."What do I give up?" The unwritten rule was it had to be something you loved, cherished and couldn't live without. That's what was expected. But in each of our minds it was something like...."What can I give up, that I really don't crave but it will look so to all of the adults in my life?" Hmmmmmm?
Watermelon? That's good but didn't work 'cuz watermelon wasn't really in season yet. "Nope" Mom said. Potato Chips? Ice Cream? Popsicles? Television? No,No No No! Those were some suggestion given by our responsible adults. I was thinking more like, not brushing my teeth for 40 days, or not playing baseball....something like that. So the battle began. Suggestions by Sister Virginia, Father Hlubek, and Mom & Dad. And I countered with my own suggestions. But deep down, every kid in Chelsea and probably in every town across America, the answer was already decided---by a much higher authority. A divine authority one could honestly say. After all, that little voice said....."After all I did for you..." So the answer was clear and on the Tuesday night right before Ash Wednesday, it was done!!
Candy! Good-by Hersheys. So-Long Reece's Peanut Butter Cups. Gonna miss those ol' Salted Nut Rolls, M&M's, Almond Joy's, $100,000 bars, Milky Ways, Snickers, etc. Etc. Etc. So there we all were, sort of numb, praying for strength, guidance and yes, a miracle!!! Because the cravings began immediately. Can we make it? Who will make it all the way to Easter?
Now not to make everyone feel extra sorry for me, but really you should. Huh? You don't know why? Ah, did you forget that we had a grocery store? And in that grocery store, we sold candy---lots of candy. All sorts of candy. And every day, those candy bars would scream at me......Sneak one, Take one, Eat Meeeeeeeee. These candy bars at Sheda's Grocery Store did not take this abandonment lying down without na fight. Like a magnet, I was practically forced to our Candy stand. I would drool, I would cry, I would pray, I would beg for mercy and a reprieve. But to no avail. Those little one cent peanut butter cups did it every time.....so tiny, so insignificant, so, so, so........................DELICIOUS.
Folks, growing up in a grocery store was Hell!!!
That's The Way I Saw It! Let me know how you did during Lent at firstname.lastname@example.org or call me at 319-334-4117. Love to hear from you.