More than 50 years after the fact, I can still tell folks who played what position for the 1967 Impossible Dream Boston Red Sox. I can tell you stats from the dominant players. I recall with great detail watching the ’67 World Series between the Sox and the St. Louis Cardinals on a black and white television, in class at St. Anne’s School. The Sisters there were big fans.
I can tell you the date and final score of the very first Patriots game I attended in person: Nov. 12, 1967, the Kansas City Chiefs 33, Boston Patriots 10, at Fenway Park!
I vividly remember taking a high dive from a big old maple tree in my pépère’s yard when I was 11 years old, turning my left arm into a pretzel.
There are so many crystal-clear memories of being a lad in the Rive, yet, there are just as many things that I can’t, for the life of me, recall at all: my First Communion and Confirmation, to start with. Disturbing.
Also disturbing is the fact that I cannot recall any Easter Sundays of my earlier days. Christmas, yes, Easter no. I hope this isn’t a commentary on the state of my soul.
But as I grew in age and wisdom (well, age anyway), memories of the day of Christ’s triumphant Resurrection become more lucid and detailed. And the ones I do remember, I do so with a sense of melancholy.
There were Sunday dinners prepared by Larry and Millie and shared with my bro Paul, my puppies and his.
Scrumptious ham platters with mashed potatoes and veggies and Larry’s can’t-be-touched lemon meringue pies and cream puffs, made from scratch.
I have fond memories of my dad taking great delight in hiding the colorful bite-sized Hershey’s chocolate Easter eggs around the house and then letting the kids loose to scoop them up. He took such great delight in that. In fact I think he had more fun than they did. And occasionally, a stray egg would be discovered by the lucky hunter the following Christmas, one overlooked on Easter.
I can remember Denise and me getting the kids and ourselves all decked out for Easter Sunday morning Mass. Putting on spring colors and styles and heading out into 30-degree temperatures and freezing going to and from the car — but hey, we looked great.
We would create Easter baskets for the kids (and Denise) loaded with stimulants such as chocolate bunnies, eggs and the dreaded marshmallow Peeps (Easter’s version of Halloween’s candy corn — both useless).
I remember sensing the joy in the Masses celebrating Jesus’ victory over death.
There’s another special Easter that comes to mind: March 26, 1978. That was the year I gave Denise a diamond and we became engaged. It wasn’t a surprise for her, she picked out the rock (or pebble to be honest). But for our families, it was an Easter surprise.
My fondest memory of that day is walking to Denise’s pépère’s house, right across the street from the majestic Notre Dame Church that burned to the ground in 1984 (as did the house her grandparents once occupied along with many more).
He was 81 at the time and under the weather that Easter Sunday, but he had heard the good news and was looking out a second-floor window as Denise held up her ring and he smiled his Teddy Bear smile and nodded his approval.
Joseph Francoeur was such a delightful man, a kid at heart, and the day would not have been complete had we not had the chance to share that with him. I have to say his smile and wave is one of my fondest Easter memories ever.
I miss those wonderful Easters and now heading into our second pandemic-affected Easter, I miss getting together with my kiddies, but I’m confident, there are better Easters ahead. And you can’t take away the never-changing joy of knowing, He Is Risen!