John O. Vanderpool (1909-1984)
The stores are crammed with Easter baskets, fillings, candy, egg-decorating kits and big fluffy bunnies. Green, yellow and lilac colors are everywhere and so are lilies and tulips, bursting forth in all their splendor. It is springtime. Another year. Another April.
The memories of the Easter Bunny come flooding back. Not just any Easter Bunny, but my family’s very own Easter Bunny — Frosty.
Funny name for an Easter Bunny? Well, he was no ordinary nose-twitching, carrot-crunching bunny. This big man, soft as a Peeps inside, was brawny on the outside, but he delighted in all things connected to Easter — church service together, egg coloring, the hunt (how he loved hiding the eggs), flowers and the food.
He’s been gone 30 years but I still serve ham and potato salad for Easter Sunday because that is what we always had and what he loved. I can’t make coconut cake or pineapple pies that measure up to my mom’s, but poor imitations are on the menu. I am trying to keep the traditions for another generation who never knew Frosty, our family’s Easter Bunny.
Frosty loved food — he ate with such relish it was a pleasure to watch him. His passion for fresh peaches was legendary as was his fondness for the hottest of hot peppers, sardines, oysters and cheese. He never met a cheese he didn’t like, even some stinking cheeses that would send us kids running out the door for fresh air.
|Frosty and me, ca 1945|
Corny jokes were his favorite kind — the cornier the better. He liked riddles and word-play tales. For most of my life, just at random times, as I roamed the world (in Europe and the United States), unexpectedly there would arrive in my mailbox a silly greeting card or a funny postcard — signed: Love, Frosty.
Frosty never demanded much from his four kids — except that we live by the Golden Rule, do our best and respect others. He led by example. He gave us wings, but he always wanted us to come home for Easter, if we could. And we did.
Born on Good Friday (April 9) in 1909, Easter often coincided with or was near his birthday and school spring break when we were growing up. As a result, through the years, Easter and Frosty’s birthday have merged together in my memory. It is yellows, greens and lilacs, ham, potato salad and coconut cake. It is the soft songs of spring — and of Frosty, a giant Easter Bunny, hopping down the bunny trail, coloring and hiding the eggs, making us laugh and love. He made April the best month on the calendar.
Frosty’s gone now, but I was lucky to have him for many Aprils. He left me a million precious memories and a ton of love.