Mark Ballard

Easter memories: Striking a pose on the fashion runway

Mark Ballard and his sister, Denise, in their Easter finery.
Mark Ballard and his sister, Denise, in their Easter finery.

It was like a beautiful lush purple carpet that had just been vacuumed. It was carefully placed between the sidewalk and the curb of the road beside my grandparent’s house. Most of the year it was simply green, but when spring arrived, it would magically change colors. For us, it was just like the red carpet at a movie premiere except instead of red, it was lavender.

As I child, I thought it was a magic carpet. I asked my grandmother what it was called, and she said it was thrift. I used to think to myself, “What an odd name for a plant.” Whatever its name was, it seemed to thrive where she had rooted and planted it.

Where most people settle for dirt or grass along the street beside their house, my grandmother had chosen to plant Thrift, a dense groundcover that produces clusters of pinkish purple flowers every spring without fail. So full of blooms and low to the ground, it appears to be carpet, especially back in the days of shag carpeting.

I remember this field of purple so vividly because we strutted beside it in our Easter outfits holding our baskets full of candy every year. Like a production in Hollywood, all our family members would line up at the driveway and slowly sashay down the sidewalk beside the glowing purple maze. It was an Easter tradition.

Easter after Easter, we all walked down the make-shift runway. Sometimes it would be just my sister and me making our entrance. Other times all my family would walk down together. Then our cousins and their parents would join us sometimes followed by my granddaddy. But, just like a red carpet event in Hollywood, there had to be a cameraman and most of the time Granddaddy played that role, filming the whole production. On the other hand, my grandmother never enjoyed any of the filming process. She was constantly running from the camera and desperately trying to hide her face.

My granddaddy had purchased one of the first home movie cameras. It was large, bulky and cumbersome but always came out of its box for a special occasion. It had what appeared to be an automobile headlight as a light source. It was so bright that all our eyes were constantly squinting in the home movies. Because of the heat the lamp exuded, we were usually sweating and, without our knowledge, also receiving a suntan.

Occasionally, Granddaddy would ask me to go and fetch the roll-down “silver screen” so he could show the home movies he had taken of us. For the viewing, he set up the projector on the dining room table and placed the screen in the living room. Everyone gathered around, turned off the lights and, there on the metallic screen, watched ourselves grow up in living color.

From year to year, you could plainly see how much the Thrift had grown and the fashions and hair styles had changed. Every Easter for as long as I can remember, we promenaded down that side walk. It wasn’t Easter Sunday without it.

Not long ago, I drove by the house where my grandparents once lived. The house which to me as a child seemed huge now appeared much smaller. It was in poor shape, unkempt and desperately in need of a coat of paint. I stopped my car by the sidewalk where we always had our own personal Easter parade. The concrete sidewalk was the same, but Granny’s thrift had long been dug up.

As I sat there, I closed my eyes and saw my family walking so proudly down the sidewalk dressed in our colorful Easter finery. In my mind, I could hear laughter and my granddaddy’s voice directing us where to go and when to walk. I could almost even smell the roast and ham my grandmother had cooked. I didn’t want to open my eyes.

Have a wonderful Easter weekend filled with family and friends. And, while eating your chocolate bunnies and coconut cake, don’t forget to take lots of photos!

If you didn’t get to the Mulberry Street Arts & Crafts Show last weekend, please visit Mark’s Facebook page or call 478-757-6877 for your spring tees, cards and prints!

Mark Ballard’s column runs each week in The Telegraph. Send your questions or comments to 3514 Ridge Avenue, Macon, GA 31204; call 478-757-6877; email mark@markballard.com; follow him at instagram.com/mark creates; or become a subscriber to Mark’s Facebook page.

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