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Nostalgia April 2015

The Raven Lunatic

The Mad Dash for Eggs

By Amy Abbott

My sad, sad tale is of the child who is ever beaten at this ritual. Let’s see if I can make this story even more pathetic. Imagine I’m dressed in blue plaid pants that are too short, and my mother has insisted on this cold late March day that I wear a hat that makes me look like Elmer Fudd.

Since forever, the Lions Club in my little hometown has hosted an Easter egg hunt. The Lions Club is a strange bunch, err, pride, with eccentric fraternal rituals.

My father — who once held a group office called the Tail-Twister — sometimes returned from meetings with his tie cut in half. He had been “fined” for something as silly as his beloved Chicago Cubs winning a game. Dad and the other members often paid the price for sins real or imagined. Fines and fundraisers enabled the club to raise money for their various charities and host the annual Easter egg hunt.

My memory book reflects a different time — an era when schoolteachers wore ties and a time when ties were inexpensive enough to slice in half.

On a spring morning in 1965, the wild men of the Lions Club hid multi-colored plastic eggs in the field behind the elementary school. Several hundred children — these were future baby boomers — lined up in age groups, tightly clutching yellow, lavender, and green braided Easter baskets. Anticipation hung over the crowd and parents held children back from the mad dash to find eggs.

The wide-eyed children wondered which eggs held candy and which had coins? In the crowd, there were the ringers. One family boasted several children and they resembled Amazons in their physical abilities. Each year when the elementary school had a track event, members of this family won almost every event. Each age group for the Easter egg hunt had one of these children in it. I knew they would immediately find the treasures.

Close family friends of ours were also there with their three beautiful, lean, athletic daughters. Unlike my brother and me, they were the first chosen at Red Rover and the other reindeer games. The family’s oldest daughter is a lifelong friend of mine.

Ready. Hundreds of little legs arched forward, baskets in hand.

Set. Hundreds of wide eyes looked out to the field, now carpeted with plastic eggs.

Go. The Lions Tail-Twister shot off his starter pistol and the Amazon children and the family friends lurched forward, leaving me in their wake.

“Go, get the eggs,” my parents shouted, chagrined that we were still standing there, in the dust of the other, more eager children.

Soon all the children’s baskets overflowed with the bounty of this Christian holiday. Even my brother had a few eggs in his basket.

Where was I?

Dawdling, like Prissy in “Gone with the Wind.” Looking around and planning my strategy; tying my Keds Red Ball Jets in large, slow loops.

I almost lost my balance as a child with a broken leg breezed past me.

Okay, maybe I should start. I ran my hardest.

I spy a yellow egg with my little eye.

Gone; Amazon child number four swoops in and gets my egg. And it has a quarter inside! There, over by the towering maple tree, a blue/green orb. I am off to get it, running, running, running, out of breath. Then it is gone.

Every year it was the same story. Reach for the tissues and weep for me. My sad, sad tale is of the child who is ever beaten at this ritual. Let’s see if I can make this story even more pathetic. Imagine I’m dressed in blue plaid pants that are too short, and my mother has insisted on this cold late March day that I wear a hat that makes me look like Elmer Fudd.

Are tears rolling down your cheeks? Do you feel the anguish? Is there pity and pathos for this little wretch who is not unlike a Dickens character?

Flash forward 30 years. Same Lions Club, 1995 version. Same Lions Club members, now they are pepaws, papas and grandpas. Same little village. The Amazon children have mated with other powerful peoples, and their children populate the town. Even though I moved away in 1975, I remember and watch them stretching in their athletic clothing like Olympic track stars. In addition, my friend, the oldest of the beautiful sisters is there with her children. Her daughter, who is a year older than my son, is a beautiful, athletic child.

Did I mention I’m having a serious flashback to 1965?

Ready. Hundreds of jumping legs of the baby boomers’ children lean forward with their plastic, wire-handled buckets.

Set. Hundreds of hands thrust Game Boys into Thomas the Tank Engine or Barney the Dinosaur jacket pockets and face forward.

Go. Grandpa Tail-Twister fires the starter pistol, and children rush forward and fill buckets with eggs.

My son, who is five, stands at the starting gate and looks around.

Is he supposed to run?

My husband and father are shouting at him, “An egg. Go over there. Behind the tree. Look in the hole. See the pink plastic egg. It’s right there.”

He saunters around the course as some of the athletic children of my school peers fly past him.

He is thinking about something else. Maybe the big Lego tower he built at Grandma’s?

My childhood friend stands next to me, smiling and laughing, and not remembering my horror of 30 years ago.

Her daughter runs to her with a purple bucket full of eggs.

Where is my son? He is tumbling in the grass, bucket askew.

Some eggs do not fall far from the chicken.

 

Amy McVay Abbott is an Indiana journalist and writer who is still searching for the golden egg. You can find her books on Amazon.

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