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An unexpected Easter bunny

Yes, it’s the Sunday before National DNA Day.

Yes, there are DNA sales going on.

And no, The Legal Genealogist isn’t going to write about DNA even though DNA is usually the topic here on Sundays.

Nope, no DNA today.

Well, except maybe to point out that the focus of this piece shares a lot of DNA with me and hasn’t yet tested, but I’ll pin him down when I see him later this year.

The simple fact is that it’s Easter Sunday and a bunch of my Livingston cousins started sharing Easter memories on Facebook and…

I can’t resist.

Not Easter eggs

On any Easter when it was humanly possible — and even on some Easters when it was inhumanely possible — my mother would do her very best to stuff all of her kids into whatever vehicle we had at the time and drive to Virginia to spend the holiday at The Farm.

That has to be in capital letters like that because that’s the way it was said. Is said. And always will be said, by anyone who was ever there.

The 110-acre farm my mother’s oldest brother, Billy Rex Cottrell, bought (or, if you believe the family story, won in a poker game) in the late 1940s and on which he settled his parents and youngest siblings by 1950.

The place where all of Billy’s siblings brought hordes of their children — dozens of cousins — to spend holidays and summers.

At least… when they could.

For my mother, that meant every summer and every holiday where all of her children were healthy.

Meaning not in imminent danger of dying or of causing an epidemic among the cousins that would make my mother the pariah of the family. Just a kid being sick wasn’t going to preclude the trip (hence the occasionally inhumane part), but sick and seriously contagious … yeah, that was definitely not in the Easter-in-Virginia cards.

And this particular Easter — somewhere around 1966 or 1967 — was likely the last Easter when my mother tried her very best to have seven children all healthy enough to make the trip to The Farm. Not long afterwards, my older sister joined the Air Force, I started college and — one by one — the number of people who needed to be healthy each time went down as child after child spread wings and left home.

And that particular Easter was one of the last times I watched my mother unhappily give in to the realization that one of her children was not just sick, but sick with one of those seriously contagious ailments.

At this point, I don’t remember which of the kids was sick. I’d be willing to bet that it was one of my younger brothers, but that’s a pretty safe bet since four of my five younger siblings are male. And I don’t even remember for sure which of the seriously contagious ailments it was, but I seem to recall that it was measles.

In any case, we were not bringing whatever seriously contagious ailment it was into a closed car for the many-hour drive to The Farm, and then letting it loose among the dozens of cousins.

Instead, we would have Easter at home.

So we dyed the eggs, prepared the baskets and went out on Easter morning for a traditional Easter egg hunt, just in the back yard rather than in the fields of The Farm.

My brother Warren was enthralled.

He was probably four years old that year, and he thought the idea of Easter eggs hidden under bushes and behind planters and in the low-hanging branches of trees was about the best thing he’d encountered in his entire life.

He couldn’t stop talking about it. He wondered when the Easter bunny was going to come again.

He was seriously a pest. One who couldn’t quite wrap his head around the fact that Easter was just once a year.

One who was quite convinced that it should be much more often than that.

And one who decided, entirely on his own, to change the rules of the Easter egg game.

This was, you may recall, a time when things like milk and bread and, yes, eggs were delivered to individual houses by dairies and bakers and egg farmers.

At our house, they were delivered to the back porch.

Where one bright and unseasonably hot morning, a few days after that particular Easter egg hunt, the egg man my mother did business with dropped off the usual egg delivery.

And where one particular four-year-old, up and about before anyone else in the house, spied them.

He decided the Easter bunny needed some help.

Indeed, he decided to be the Easter bunny.

And he carefully hid roughly four dozen raw eggs in the most devious locations a four-year-old brain could figure out.

We were still finding those hidden eggs — often by smell alone — weeks later.

That’s my all-time-favorite Easter tale… featuring an … um … unexpected Easter bunny.

What’s yours?

Cite/link to this post: Judy G. Russell, “An Easter tale,” The Legal Genealogist ( : posted 21 Apr 2019).

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