The year was 1945, and Passover was coming. It was time for the annual community Seder in my small Indiana town. This event, when all 200 Jewish families gathered in the local hotel, was the highlight of the year. The festivities included music and skits and a contest to see who could recite the four questions fastest.
It also meant a new outfit. Coincidentally, “Meet Me In St Louis” hit the local theatre, and I was obsessed with Margaret O’Brien and the hat she wore in the movie: a broad brimmed straw with a flower encircled crown and double black grosgrain ribbon that fluttered when you walked.
Busy with preparations for the second night family Seder, my mother could not be bothered with my pleas for a hat like the one a child actress wore.
The evening of the community Seder, the Lieber family assembled in their finery. As we were about to walk out the door, my mother said, “Oh, I almost forgot. This is for you Franny.” And there, in a large hat box, covered in tissue was The Hat. It was gorgeous!
That Seder, when I was 7, I was transported, playing Margaret O’Brien in my own Passover movie.