Note from Author James B. Tippin’s daughter: This post is by my Father, Jim Tippin, about an Easter morning many years ago. You can read more about the adventures of his boyhood in The Great Depression in his book, available at http://amzn.to/1CWeFk9
It was 1934. The Great Depression gripped our family , then three boys and Mom and Dad. 1936 would see yet another boy baby join our family.
Our parents always treated Easter Morning as a capital event There was no cash but we raised chickens. This provided a surfeit of eggs, which our parents decorated during the wee hours of Easter mornings, often with intricate and colorful hand painted scenes. This year we were to follow an entirely different pattern.
Saturday evening found my mother packing a picnic basket of noteworthy proportions. At one AM on Easter Morning we boys were awakened. Our Sunday clothes were laid out for us. By two AM we were in our old, rusted out Pontiac, headed west out of Indian River County Florida, deep canals on both sides of the puny pocked highway being ominous enough to prevent our dozing. My father announced that we were on our way to some mysterious place with the placid name, “Lake Wales, Florida.” The
pleasant aroma drifting up from the ample picnic basket was reassuring.
It was black dark when our father announced that we had arrived, he with relief that the old Pontiac had made the trip without incident, we wide eyed boys wondering why we were yet far from civilization. Following a climbing, expertly maintained dirt trail, headlights reflecting upon flower gardens of unbelievable precision and beauty, we soon entered a flat area where uniformed police, with flashlights assisted us and an endless line of other autos, to orderly designated parking spaces.Friendly guides with flashlights then began to lead us along precise,
Friendly guides with flashlights then began to lead us along precise, flower bordered paths to a seating area where scores of padded folding chairs, formed half circle rows in depth beyond the guides’ flashlight beam. We were again in the blackest night from which came soft but invigorating renditions of sacred music from a variety of musical instruments.
I could not see, but had a sense that some huge structure was directly in front of us. From somewhere a robust Choir broke the predawn quiet with familiar Easter Hymns.
Though faint the first light of day began to arrive. I could now see, rising before us up to the faintly visible clouds, a structure so unusual and beautiful that it defied belief. Quite suddenly loud and beautiful bells in this structure began to sound.
The edge of the rising sun was reflected from a massive tower jutting 205 feet into the early morning sun, its melodious bells announcing Easter morning to us and to the surrounding countryside.
Constructed of marble and coquina rock, carved in detail, it had, in 1929, been a gift to the American people by Netherlands native, Edward Bok.
This had been an Easter morning never to be forgotten .