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Easter Picnics in Camargo

By John I. Blair

Among my earliest memories of Camargo, dating from the 1940s, were the annual Easter picnics. Because itís been upwards of 65 to 70 years since I participated in these, details are vague, but sweet. So I will try to recall them, in the hope that other family members will be able to add information and give a fuller picture.

Evidently it was the custom back then at Easter in Camargo to have elaborate picnics out in the country. Easter is generally a sweet time of year when everything is greening up and flowers are blooming, but the air is still cool in the shade and warm in the sunshine. Eggs in an era when just about everybody was still keeping chickens were virtually a free item, and one that could easily be made both tasty and pretty. And the game of hiding decorated eggs for the little kids (like me) to find was even more popular then than now, with some important details different because we were using real, breakable, eggs, not plastic ones filled with candy.

Typically the day prior to the picnic was busy with egg boiling and coloring. I donít remember any fancy decorations being applied Ė just bright colors. After all, these eggs werenít going to last long anyway. I was too young to help with the egg dye process; Iím assuming that an older group did that, likely including Leila, Leah, Mary Ann, Geraldine, and of course the mothers as well. Iím sure dozens of eggs were involved, because there were going to be big appetites to feed at the picnic. Whether Aunt Madgeís family were also involved, I donít recall.

What other food was prepared, I have absolutely no memory of. Likely fried chicken, potato salad, bread . . .

The two places I associate with these picnics were very different from each other. One of them was the sandpits west of town along whatís now called E0690 Road Ė the road west that eventually leads to the cemetery and beyond that to Turkey Creek. But the sandpits were just a short drive from town, less than a mile. Being just about Camargoís only ďsafeĒ water attraction (the Canadian being much too unpredictable and wild), they were used, I understand, both for swimming and for simple country outings. And may still be, for all I know. To me they were a complete novelty, with the murky water, the grassy, sandy banks, and brush-covered mounds of overburden next to the water.

I must have been quite young that year, as I remember being kept under pretty close supervision near the water. But I had fun egg hunting and playing with my cousins. And basking in the springtime sunshine, no doubt in one of the sun suits my Mom used to make for me.

Swimming party at sandpits with Ellsworth Dover to the right, and the man to the left of the checked shirt, wearing a billed cap and overalls, is my beloved Uncle Ralph Wing who was almost a second father to me and a great teacher about life.

The other place used for these picnics was on the other side of town along the little creek where E0690 turns south to zigzag along the east side of the river toward Red Bluff. There is still a grove of trees in that corner, with a sandy track leading south to a corral. On the whole it was easier to reach and to park when you got there, but without the pools of water featured at the sandpits. I was a bit older by then, but still have only the vaguest memories of the day, except that I enjoyed it.

The second photo, of my mom and dad, aunts and uncles, I am quite sure was taken at Easter 1938, a month after my parents were married. This photo, I think, is beautiful. My parents are the couple at the far left, with Mom in the polkadot dress.

After about 1950 I have no further memories of these Easter picnics. I donít know whether they were continued or abandoned as we cousins mostly got too old for such frivolity as hunting for hidden eggs in the grass.

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