“They used to tell us that there was a green lady that lived in this cemetery,” Enid Brown shouts out to her seven, excited children as they scurry through the graveyard of the Church of St. James the Less in East Falls.
The kids scatter in every direction hunting for Easter eggs between old tombstones throughout the grounds of the National Historic Landmark. The church is one of the oldest Episcopal churches in the country.
Keeping a watchful eye on her kids, Brown can’t help but get lost in memories of her childhood. She grew up a block away from St. James and has been coming to the church since she was six years old.
The children of Brown’s generation were never allowed to play in this part of the cemetery, and she recalls when the Easter egg hunts were held on the other side of Clearfield street, near the rectory.
Her favorite story is of getting chased out of the cemetery by the Church Sexton when she was learning to ride a bicycle.
“We couldn’t play in here,” she bends down to tell her children, her voice a mixture of nostalgia and envy.
Although she currently lives in Germantown, and the St. James the Less Church closed down in 2006, she still returns for the Easter egg hunt to share childhood memories with her children.
“This is memories,” Brown repeatedly exclaims as she walks past graves sprinkled with colorful plastic eggs, each filled with chocolate coins.
The hunt was organized by David Kasievich and Andrew Kellner; Kasievich is the executive director of St. James School, the new middle school scheduled to open this September across the street, and Kellner works for the St. James summer program.
As children rooted out over 500 hidden eggs, Kasievich met parents and told them how to apply to the new school.
Once all the eggs were captured, Brown gathered her kids and they all politely thanked the volunteers. One child hugged Kasievich’s leg, while he helped another count her collected eggs.
Brown says she hopes her children will be able to attend the nearby school so they can have the same fond memories that she has for the neighborhood on Clearfield Street.