Easter Bits and Pieces

4.4.2021 [archived ~ previously published 3.29.2018]

Vintage Easter Postcard ~ circa 1900

Easter and April Fool’s Day

Easter and April Fool’s day has not fallen on the same day in my lifetime.  In fact, it has been 62 years since this has occurred.  Just a quick reminder, “The basic rule for determining the date for Easter is that it is on the first Sunday after the first full moon that occurs on or after March 21st.”

My google search shows that this is the 12th time Easter has fallen on April 1st since 1700.  A few quick calculations and I discovered that seven of the twelve times, there was eleven years between the years when this occurred, for instance, 1934, 1945 and 1956. I wasn’t going to try and figure out why this happened, but I did find it very interesting.

Easter Sunday School Program

In the 1920s the Deer River paper, called the Itasca News, was distributed on Saturday.  The publisher and editor, Murray James Taylor reminded readers to attend the Easter program the following evening. “Miss Velma Taylor who is one of the leading directors of the work, declares the features are of a nature to appeal to human interest and the most elaborate the church has ever had.  Admission is free and the public is earnestly entreated to attend.”

Full disclosure, Velma is the 14-year-old daughter of the newspaper publisher.

Easter Program was Splendid ~ Itasca News 4-10-1920

“That there is talent in the youth of Deer River is a fact proven and nailed down solider every time they are called on by the public, and the way they went ‘over the top’ in the Easter program was no exception to the high standard.  From cradlings to the young ladies every number was a winner and the entire program was keenly appreciated by the audience, which as usual, packed the church.

The opening number was a surprise to the little actor and the audience.  The name of Grace Johnson for a song was called, and the little lady of six summers who had just entered the door, sauntered up the aisle, hastily removing her wraps and with cheeks flushed by the chilly wind gracefully took her place on the platform and soon ‘warmed up’ in a pretty and lengthy Easter song, sweetly delivered and true to every note.

The vocal duet by Velma Taylor and Ova St. Peter was generally pronounced as excellent and the young ladies warmly applauded.

Norma Reid, one of those little angels, just learning to talk, did her part just like the big ones but much cuter, and spoke about four words.

Little Betty Bartholomew, always a favorite, sang charmingly.

Velma Taylor’s recitation on the ‘Easter Return of the Federal in Blue,’ captivated the audience and brought forth applause of feeling.

The six young boys in recitation each carrying a large letter which in line were to spell ‘Easter,’ did well, and more amusing than calculated as their letters in line read ‘Eatster.’

One of the best hits was the song by Gladys Hawkins’ class of fifteen girls. ‘Ring, Joy Bells, Ring,’ with Gladys doing creditable execution at the piano.

The booby prize must be yielded to baby Margurite Carlson, who, with her aunt near her side stood barely peeping above the railing and spoke some words, what they were, only her aunt Carrie knew, but the expressions and serious gestures of the little lady told more than words that her message was indeed grave.

Blanche Collard, soprano and Velma Taylor, alto, in duo gave the closing number.”

From the 1920 United States census, I learned the following about the talent named above.  I found it especially interesting that the two young ladies in charge, Velma, and Gladys were still in high school.  

~ Grace Johnson, daughter of Harry and Lillian (Metke), was born on December 12, 1912. She attended several years of college and married John Lynch. Later they moved to Hibbing where he was a member of law enforcement.

~ Velma Taylor’s parents came to Deer River from Nebraska in about 1896. He started the first newspaper, the Itasca News, which he was publisher and editor of until 1923 when he sold it to H.E. Wolfe, who changes the name to the Deer River News. Velma married Harvey Giles in 1924.  After the birth of their first two sons, they moved to Blackduck.

~ Ova St. Peter, daughter of Napoleon and Lucille, was born in 1905. The St. Peter family owned a confectionery store in town.  For many years Olga Sjolund, who was a few years older than Ova, lived with the family and worked at the store.

~ Norma Reid’s father, Hugh, is the minister at the Methodist church, and her mother Elizabeth, his helpmate. By 1930, the Reid’s had moved to Missouri.

~ Betty Bartholomew is the daughter Sam and Ella. Sam was in charge of the new telephone system. 

He bought it from the first proprietor M.L. Smith in 1915 and had it until 1926 when he sold it to J.L. Tucker. 

~ Gladys Hawkins’ mother is Nellie (Tellin). Her father, Milan died when she was quite young.  Her mother worked very hard to provide for her daughters on her own.

~ Margaret Ann Carlson was born in New York on October 2, 1917.  Her father, Albert, was in the service and stationed in New York.  After the war, Albert returned to Deer River with his wife Ethel and young daughter.  Ethel did not like the rural life and left when Margaret was still a young child.  She is raised by William and Anna Herreid. Anna was sister to Albert. 

~ Blanche Collard is the daughter of Joe and Mary. Her father’s occupation is listed as the proprietor of a railroad parlor.  So, does that mean he maintained the Deer River Depot or a recently defunct saloon? 

I wish I could have provided information about the six boys who inadvertently misspelled Easter!  Perhaps some of them were brothers of the girls whose talents are highlighted by the editor. 

Easter Baskets

By the mid-1920s advertisements for Easter candy and flowers appeared in the local confectionery and drugstores.  The candy available was not specified, but the plants included Easter Lilies, Rambler Rose Bushes, Hydrangeas, Cinerias, Begonias, Hyacinths, Tulips, and Ferns.

It wasn’t until near the end of the decade that I found mention of a local Easter egg hunt.

Hunted Easter Eggs ~ Deer River News 4-12-1928

“Mr. and Mrs. Robinson delightfully entertained fifteen little folks last Sunday afternoon at an Easter egg hunt.  Fifteen baskets of eggs were hidden in the fields adjacent to the Robinson home and there was a merry scramble to find them.  Prizes were offered for finding the largest number of baskets and the last basket.  Kathryn Wolfe found the largest number, four, and Alicemary Robinson the last one.  It was a delightful sport.”

1 Comment

  1. youngv2015 says:

    I enjoyed this story and its artwork.

    It’s amazing what a person can learn about the history and lives of ordinary people by reading the paper. I find it fascinating that newspapers included bits about who went to visit whom, and who had a party or endless tidbits like that. It was like a social media page before the internet. My great-grandfather’s obit in 1910 in the paper was the lead story for the Gordon, Wisconsin, news that day, but at the bottom of his obit, (which wasn’t a separate item like it would have been today) news bits about other people in Gordon were included, which had nothing to do with my great-grandfather’s death.


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