Mack Williams column: Time portal

Published 12:00 am Saturday, April 23, 2022

By Mack Williams

On Easter Monday, I awoke to a chilly rain.

When I was growing up in the 1950s and ’60s, as a holiday, Easter Monday was bona fide (even more than Vernon T. Waldrip in “Oh Brother, where Art Thou?”). What made it a bona fide holiday for me and my friends was that there was no school. Nowadays, students get the whole week off.

Just as with Easter, Easter Monday was always pretty straightforward. None of that “trying to figure out what day of the week it falls on in such-and-such year” stuff.

When I was an eighth-grader in Mrs. Catherine Safrit’s class at Granite Quarry School, our Band Director Bill Coble marched us in the Granite Quarry Easter (Monday) Parade. A photographer from the Salisbury Post (then, an “evening” Post) took a picture of a parade clown peering into the bell of my sousaphone. With my Clark Kent glasses, crew cut and plaid shirt, I was a standard sight for those days. It was my sousaphone wrapped around me that made me newsworthy.

Since Easter eggs were boiled and dyed on the day before Easter (not calling it “Easter Saturday”), by Easter Monday, those eggs were already approaching the first 48 hours of their post-boiled, decorated, un-refrigerated life! It wasn’t till much later that their almost immediate refrigeration and consumption within three days of their boiling and dyeing was recommended (along with a plethora of timely consumptions and actions nowadays, the ignoring of which, we are warned, might result in sickness or death). I remember successfully (not dying) eating the last of my room-temperature, dyed eggs sometimes a full week past Easter. At the time of such week-later egg cracking, I did sometimes notice a heightened smell of brimstone (sulphur) emerging from the fissures of the broken eggshell.

That Easter Monday in the mid-1960s was a partly sunny, short-sleeve day; but this current one resembled a reverse step towards winter.

I drove to get some take-out Chinese, (egg-drop soup, strangely enough) as my fingers chillingly grasped the cold steering wheel, while a radio ad spoke of some cure-all for diabetic neuropathy. No problem with that; my fingers had feeling and they felt cold!

It being April, the unusually chilly rain’s temperature seemed to be a degree or so above that of freezing rain, so it remained cold liquid.

As I sipped the hot egg-drop soup, I thought again on those memories brought to the fore of my consciousness by the words: “Easter Monday,” like a psychology word association test.

In the episode “City on the Edge of Forever,” of the original Star Trek television series, when I was at East Rowan, Kirk and Spock enter a time portal to search for Dr. McCoy, who had previously jumped though it in an accidentally drug-induced, frenzied state. Upon the safe return of all three from the past, the portal, which has a voice, states: “Many such journeys are possible. Let me be your gateway.”

And so, it is also with phrases and words like “Easter Monday,” the speaking of, and mere sight of, providing a portal to the remembered past.

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