Easter, Easter bonnet, Bakersfield, California, rhubarb, hats, grandma, family history, genealogy
Me in Bakersfield, California 

I know am a sap for old movies and old songs, but every Easter, Irving Berlin’s song “Easter Parade” runs though my head.

In your easter bonnet, with all the frills upon it,

 You’ll be the grandest lady in the Easter parade.

When I was little, I always wanted an Easter “bonnet” and many of my childhood Easter pictures show that it was often part of my outfit. Kids like hats anytime of the year, but at Easter, the stores seem to have a large variety of pretty ones to tempt the little ones.

As a little girl, my Grandma Hazel Mickelsen Ganus liked hats as well, but she, her sister and her cousin were creative enough to make their own.

In her personal history Grandma said she could hardly wait for the rhubarb to come up in the spring. When it did, she and her sister Lena and cousin Edith loved to pull off a stalk or two and sprinkle it with sugar. I love rhubarb, but I confess it takes more than a sprinkle of sugar for me. In fact, douse it in sugar, put it in a crust and top it with ice cream and it is one of my favorite pies.

Grandma went beyond eating the stalks of rhubarb, she found a creative use for the leaves. She said:

We always enjoyed making “make-believe” hats from the large rippled leaves. The shapely leaves were very adaptable for hats. We would trim the hats with sprigs of lilacs, pansies and little yellow sneezers from the garden. We fastened the flowers to the leaves with toothpicks. Sometimes we were very creative with our jaunty bonnets. Each would try to out do the others. We admired and often laughed at our creations. When we finished we placed the hats on top our heads at just the right angle. We found there was quite an art to balancing them. Of course we always had to have a fashion show, so we would parade to our Mothers and our neighbors to show them off. In the fall of the year, we would do the same thing, but this time we would use cabbage leaves. We found they also made very attractive hats when decorated with flowers of various kinds, and they would set upon our heads a little better than rhubarb leaves. 

I cringed a little as I read this because I was always cautioned as a child to leave the rhubarb leaves alone as they are quite toxic, but I guess grandma was old enough and smart enough to know not to put them in her mouth. I also wonder what yellow sneezers were. When I googled it, it brought up a variety of yellow flowers that cause sneezing, so I am not sure what Grandma meant exactly, although yellow dandelions are certainly “yellow sneezers” in my book. In any case, I can’t believe they would put such a thing on their hats, although ladies will put up with most anything if it looks good enough.

I love that Grandma took the time to record this memory. The Grandma I knew was an older woman who was quiet and so I love that Grandma introduced me to Hazel Mickelsen, the little girl who dolled up in her “jaunty” rhubarb leaf hat and put on a parade for her mother and neighbors.

Copyright © Michelle G. Taggart 2016, All rights reserved

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10 thoughts on “In Your Easter Bonnet

  1. Adorable you, Michelle, with your hat and bunny. Sweet cheeks!

    You are so lucky to have your grandmother's history, especially with specific memories included. Very fun!

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