Thursday, March 21, 2013

Shades of Easter

The smell of vinegar filled the kitchen. Mom pulled down the big, white coffee cups. A trip to the hen house then fresh eggs were set to boil. I close my eyes and once more I am there. Just wisps of the past niggle at my brain, so I turn to Google to refresh my memory.

Paas Easter egg dye was the invention of William Townley, the owner of a drug store in Newark, New Jersey. In the late 1800's he came up with the recipe for Easter egg dye tablets. Tablets that came in five wonderful colors. In 1880 the packets sold for only five cents. The name Paas comes from "Passen" which is the word Mr. Townley's Pennsylvania Dutch neighbors used for Easter.

Mom filled the cups with a mixture of water and vinegar. June and I dropped tablets into the cups and watched the water turn into blue or red or orange or yellow or purple. A little parafin stick came with the tablets, so we could decorate the eggs before we dropped them into their colorful bath. Yellow was a tricky color. It seemed to take the eggs twice as long to reach a decent shade. Once the eggs had reached the perfect color, we used the wire egg picker upper to pull the eggs out of the smelly bath, setting them in the holes we had punched out of the Paas box. Colored water was everywhere. Fingers were various shades of Easter. June, the artist, always decorated an extra special egg for her little sister.

In retrospect I have to laugh. We thought our eggs were lovely; however, as a child, I had not seen many white eggs. Our chickens laid brown and tan eggs. Paas did not create a color that could cover the egg, so our eggs looked a bit like dingy laundry. The yellow looked like something that should have stayed in the hen house. I don't remember hiding the eggs. I'm sure we did. The best place would have been in the hen house! What a shocker for those old hens! 

Thank you, Paas, for the memories of dying eggs that have spanned my childhood and that of my children and grandchildren. If I were to wax poetic, I would say that we are all colorful eggs sharing the same egg carton. Happy Easter, my friends.

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