A very happy Easter to everyone. As I write this column, my mind goes back to the happy childhood memories of Easter, when I was a child growing up in Overtown. While our Sunday school teachers tried to instill in us he real meaning of Easter, we had other things on our mind — like visions of Easter egg hunts and getting dressed up in frilly princess-like dresses and having our hair styled in candy curls (or Shirley Temple curls). Our mommas would lovingly top off our curls with big, starchy-stiff hair bows. Ah, yes. That was Easter to us children..
On Northwest Ninth Street and First Court, where I spent some of my earliest years, my best friend was Nellie Dorsett. She was three years older, and to me, a “big” girl, who knew everything. She was always so lady-like and I wanted to be just like her. She attended the historic Greater Bethel AME Church on Eighth Street, where her mother, the late Doris "Doll" Dorsett, was an usher. Momma and Doll were close friends, and often, she would let me attend church with Nellie. (Our church was a few blocks north of Bethel.)
For weeks leading up to Easter, we’d talk about the Easter outfits that our mommas had hid away, just like they hid the Christmas gifts. Because Nellie was a few years older, she didn’t wear the big hair bows. And her momma even let her wear nylon stockings on Easter. I loved my new clothes, but I couldn’t wait to be old enough, like Nellie, so I could wear nylon stockings — that’s what we called them back then — with the dark seams running up the back.
Those were the good old days to us children. We had no idea that they weren’t so good to our mothers, who had to hope and pray that the dresses they bought us would fit. You see, in those days, blacks couldn’t try on clothes in the department stores downtown. Our parents would measure our feet with a piece of string and pray that the pretty patent leather shoes they bought for us would also fit. We had no idea of the depth of the humiliation our parents endured just trying to make our childhood a happy memory.
Both Momma and Doll passed away several years ago. Nellie and I are great-grandmothers now, but we still stay in touch. To us, the Risen Savior is the real reason for the Easter season and we celebrate that.
But we also celebrate all the black mommas who, like Momma and Doll, suffered the indignities of being black shoppers in Jim Crow’s downtown Miami. We celebrate them for doing all they could to make our childhood Easters as beautiful as the organdy dresses and the shiny patent leather shoes they bought for us to wear on that glorious day.
Thanks, Momma. Thanks, Doll. And happy Easter.
Reception to raise money for swim lessons
The Second Annual Swim for Jenny Cocktail Reception will be from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. on April 11 at the Deering Estate at Cutler, 16701 SW 72nd Ave. in Palmetto Bay.
Sponsored by the Parks Foundation of Miami-Dade, the family-friendly reception will pay tribute to Jenny Hong Nguyen, who suffered a drowning accident on April 16, 2011, after she went into water too deep for her limited swimming ability. She was 12.
After her death, the Foundation’s Swim for Jenny Memorial Fund was created. The fund provides water safety information and learn-to-swim scholarships to children.
According to a press release from the Foundation, drowning was the second leading cause of injury-related death among children ages one to 14. Florida has the second highest number of drowning incidents in the United States, with Miami-Dade County leading the state in drowning deaths with an average of 45 a year.