Many of you of a certain age will remember Kessler’s Department store in downtown Atlanta. I never shopped there, but I loved the Easter ads that would come on television, interrupting my mindless enjoyment of Gilligan’s Island, Leave it To Beaver, and all the other shows that Ted Turner gave us before he became a famous Montana rancher. A girl’s voice — pleasant and youthful — would tell us how nice we’d look in our new Easter clothing, if we’d just venture down to Kessler’s and make a purchase. The Kessler’s ad was an Easter regular for me. And that voice was so soft and pleasant. And I can’t pass through an Easter without remembering the Kessler’s ads and that voice.
A million sitcoms later in 1980, I was working for Atlanta Interfaith Broadcasters as host of a show that was transmitted in the early Sunday morning slot on WKLS radio station, aka 96 Rock. To be a 20 year old in 1980 with a “show on 96 Rock” was a great conversational asset, never-mind that no one other than my mother got up early enough on Sunday to catch it. I was “into” radio at that time, having done my stint with Radio Free Georgia as a volunteer, and there I was at AIB, working with a great group of folks, including the young lady who voiced the Kessler ads. I’d always liked her voice, telling us about the sales, the new Easter shoes, and the other stuff awaiting us at Kessler’s. And there she was — a fellow employee — and we were both being paid for our voices. She was just like her voice: perky and sweet, bouncy because she was a gymnast, and full of energy because it was 1980, and she was young and about to be married. My last memory of her is when she did a somersault in a churchyard as we were gutting a discarded record collection. I hope she did somersaults at her church wedding, while reciting the Easter sales going on at Kessler’s.
Every time Easter comes around, I remember the odd thing here and there: stuffed rabbits dressed in cotton outfits, a car accident at church on Easter morning, another car wreck where someone smacked our Galaxy 500 as we were turning into our driveway, the hollow candy rabbits, the itchy and awful polyester clothing — none of which came from Kessler’s — and my friend who did the voice overs. It’s strange how memory works, isn’t it? Easter is the most profound time in the Christian calendar, yet why do I remember the itchy polyester shirts more than the Sunday School lessons? The stuffed rabbit I found in my Easter basket was dressed in pastel colors, wearing clothes made of soft cotton, and if he had shoes, they certainly weren’t pinching his toes. And those big ears! I wonder what he would have thought of the Kessler’s ads, if I’d sat him on top of the old television, next to the metal ears that pulled my friend’s voice out of the air and into our house? Maybe he would have done a somersault. Who knows? And now, in 2015, I dress like my rabbit. I wear pastels. I wear cotton. I won’t touch polyester, and if a shoe pinches, it goes to the clothing drive. Maybe I’ll do a somersault this Easter: one flip for the cotton clothing, one for my memories, and one for the essential gift of Easter’s message of hope – a gift that tastes far sweeter than any chocolate rabbit that was ever left in a basket at the foot of a bed.
David McCoy is a lifetime resident of “The Glorious South” and a repeat winner of the Georgia Press Association’s Joe Parham Trophy for his humor column, Pecan Pie for the Mind. David lives in Covington but can often be found among the North Georgia mountains, depending on the weather and the availability of clean towels and fresh, hot coffee. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.