How is it possible to still feel embarrassment, after over half a century has passed, that I was too subjugated to have a pretty little May Basket with which to surprise my friend Trudy so long ago when we were five?
It was my first year at school and I had been delighted to be given a pretty little paper May Basket filled with paper flowers and a few pieces of candy. I was told that I could take it home and keep it, or I could give it to anyone I wished, leaving it as a surprise on their doorstep on May Day to celebrate Spring. I took my May Basket home, but then it disappeared, probably taken by my mother who would not acknowledge the theft and from whom there was no retrieving it.
I really wanted to participate in this May Day celebration of Spring that I had just learned about at school, so being allowed nothing inside our house with which to work, I hunted around outside looking for some materials to make a replacement May Basket. In a trash bin I found shiny silver foil wrapped around discarded food, wiped the grease off of it as best I could, and shaped it into a little basket with a twisted handle. It had been raining and I pulled a few bright blades of clean green grass to fill the basket. I put some pretty stones into it. Then I ran to my friend Trudy's house and put my grubby concoction on her doorstep. I rang the bell, and ran away leaving what I hoped would be a delightful little gift. My friend's mother was at the door immediately and yelled after me, "Did you leave this mess on our doorstep?" I returned to her and in confusion I explained that I had tried to make a May Basket to give her daughter because she was my friend. I was so sorry and embarrassed when she shut the door without much comment.
Mother also took away from me a sweet little brown ceramic pot that I found in the same trash bins later on. The tiny pot fit neatly, smoothly into the palm of my child's hand. I wanted to keep it so that I had some possession to enjoy but the moment she saw it she took it from me. Half a century later I discovered that little brown ceramic pot hidden in her hosiery drawer, the handles were broken off. It was just another a trophy to remind her of what she had taken from me.
When I was in my second or third year of school my Uncle Edward gave me a real silver necklace with tiny turquoise beads set in a silver disc to wear to school. I may have worn it once, but my mother soon took it from me, broke the chain, and kept the shattered gift from me for the rest of her life. If that form of mental illness has a name, I do not know what it is and I cannot understand it.
When I was a young woman I bought my first pair of wool anklet socks. I did not have much money and they were expensive, a pretty light blue, and made of fine, soft wool. They went missing when I was visiting at my mother's house, and half a century later I found them squirreled among my Mother's personal effects that I inherited after she passed.
Caption: Memory Of A May Basket
I Made Of Dirty Foil, Wet Grass, And Pretty Stones
by Annmarie Throckmorton circa 1955