“Here comes Peter Cottontail, hoppin’ down the bunny trail, hippity hoppity Easter’s on its way.” This is the beginning lines of a song that came from a 1971 TV Series. The idea came from a 1957 novel, “The Easter Bunny That Overslept.” This song is familiar to us all, but did you know that Peter is not always a charming and delightful rabbit? He has a propensity for boasting and telling fibs. Fortunately, when his left ear droops, you know he is into telling another fib.
Too bad this doesn’t happen with our kids, and we could amaze them with our ability to see right through their cloudy commentary.
At any rate, I am passing through Seaside and decide to pull into The Pickets parking area. The Pickets is a gift shop and garden area owned by Jo Ann Mathis. The colorful annuals are already lined up waiting for Jo Ann to get them in the ground. Bunnies are already lined up around the fountain in the front yard waiting for Easter and the garden is open for all to visit.
Getting back into Destin, I pass a mailbox planted with Easter-egg colored flowers and a large poufy bow of yellow, pink and green. Both doors have colorful wreaths filled with ornamental Easter eggs. I have a hunch something really good is inside.
This home belongs to Leon and Laynee Kontos in Destin. Laynee’s daughter Mary Brennan McWilliams, known as Mae Mae, is not present the day I visit. After I knock on the door, Laynee asks me to come in. Just as I suspect, the breakfast table is set with fine china, rabbit pictures on the plates and bunnies and eggs grace the middle.
The home was beautifully decorated and I was about the leave when Laynee beckoned me to come into Mary Brennan’s bedroom for a special treat.
From under the bed, Laynee pulls out this large box and takes off the top for me to have a look inside. What a delightful and exciting surprise appeared as sheets of preservative paper is carefully taken away. Several heirloom, hand-sewn dresses begin to appear, one after the other.
These beautiful keepsakes were made by Mary Brennan’s grandmother almost 40 years ago. The dresses were made for Laynee Kontos who preserved them so that her daughter, nieces and their children could enjoy them for generations.
Laynee’s grandmother, Addie Taylor, now 96, used antique French laces and her own designs to create these one-of-a-kind dresses that required months of tedious work to make. Addie would often venture into a boutique in Mountain Brook, Ala., called the Heirloom Shop to gain inspirations.
The dresses, now preserved in acid-free tissues, are carefully brought back to life each spring using an antique “poufer” iron, which makes sleeves, ruffles and bonnets crisp once again. Accenting the dress is a strand of add-a-pearls, started by Mrs. Taylor in the late 1960s, and it is still added to today — a tradition that Mary Brennan will hopefully continue.
Hubbub and I are heading out to Austin, Texas, for Easter to visit with our kids and grandkids. Norm says he is thinking of buying me a Mercedes convertible to drive back home.
Are you serious? Oh, oh, wait a minute; the left ear is beginning to droop…
Laura Hall is a longtime gardener and Destin resident. She explores area gardens and other local topics with her cavalier spaniel Annie. If you would like to show off your garden or be profiled in a future column, contact Laura at firstname.lastname@example.org.