May 2, 2011

The Mad Dash for Eggs

Repost from my newspaper column. Written eons ago.

The Mad Dash for Eggs
Since time immemorial, the Lions Club in my little village of Anatevka hosted an Easter egg hunt. The Lions Club is a strange bunch, er, pride, with fraternal rituals. My father—who once held a club office called Tail-Twister— sometimes returned from meetings with his tie sawed in half. He had been “fined” for something as silly as his beloved Cubbies 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 many charities, and 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 waste.
On a spring Saturday morning in 1965, the wild men of the Lions Club hid multi-colored plastic eggs in the field behind our K-8 elementary school.
Several hundred children—this was the Baby Boom—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.
Which eggs held candy and which had coins?

Then there were the ringers.
One family had seven or eight children, and they resembled Amazon people in their physical abilities. Each year when the elementary school had a track event, members of this family won almost every race. Now, no matter the age group, one of these Amazon children was in it, and raced immediately for the treasures.
Some family friends of ours were there with their three beautiful, lean, athletic daughters. Unlike my brother and me, they were the first chosen at Red Rover. This family’s oldest daughter, my lifelong friend, is just a few months older than I am.
Ready. Four hundred little legs arched forward, baskets in hand.
Set. Four hundred eyes looked forward to the field, now carpeted with plastic eggs.
Go. The Lions Tail-Twister shot off his starter pistol and the Amazon children and our family friends lurched forward, leaving me in their wake. Our parents pushed my brother and me forward, “Go, get the eggs,” they shouted, chagrined that we were still standing there, left behind in the cloud of dust from the other kids.
Soon the Amazon children and my friends’ 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 big, slow loops.
I nearly lost my balance as a child with a broken leg in a cast breezed past me.
Okay, perhaps 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 big maple tree, a blue/green orb. I am off to get it, running, running, running, out of breath. Then it is gone.
Every year. Same story. Go ahead, reach for the Kleenex. I sense your weepiness. My sad, sad tale of the child who is beaten at this game. Let’s see if I can make this story even more pathetic. Let’s say 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. It is a god-awful hat from the 1965 Monkey Wards catalog.
Now the tears are rolling down your face with pity and pathos for this wretch who resembles a Dickens character.
Flash forward. Same Lions Club, 1995. Same Lions Club members, just moving more slowly. Same little village of Anatevka (okay, enough of the Fiddler on the Roof references for a Christian celebration.)
Now the Amazon children have mated with other athletic people, and their equally Amazonian children populate the town. Even though I moved away from my little village in 1975, I recognize them and watch them stretching in athletic clothing like Olympic track stars.
In addition, 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.
Flashback, OMG, 1965.
Ready. Four hundred legs of the current generation bend forward, hands clutching their plastic, wire-handled buckets.
Set. Two hundred hands stuff Game Boys into Thomas the Tank Engine or Barney 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 several Amazon grandchildren rush past him.
He is thinking about something else. Maybe the big Lego tower he built at Grandmas?
My friend stands next to me, smiling and laughing, not remembering the horror of thirty years ago.
Her daughter runs to her with a purple bucket full of eggs.
Where is my son? He is standing on his head in the grass, bucket askew.
Some eggs do not fall far from the chicken.
©The Raven Lunatic by Amy McVay Abbott 2009. Amy McVay Abbott is a Whitley County native and freelance writer who currently lives in southern Indiana. She loves to hear from readers at