Updated: Original Post 4/3/15
Yesterday I had the opportunity to help with Matt’s first-grade class Easter Egg hunt. Another one of the pleasures of retirement is being able to go to school and help out with activities.
The plan had been for the first graders to go to the park for their egg hunt, but the weather wasn’t cooperating, so they decided to have the hunt on the school playground. Our choices of hiding plastic eggs filled with goodies were very limited, but we hid them the best we could among the swings and slides. We pretty much left most of them laying in plain sight. The kids still had fun, and it was a success.
Easter Egg Hunts in the 1950s
On my way home, I couldn’t help but think about the Easter egg hunts at school that we had when I was growing up in the 1950s. There were no plastic eggs for us back then. Our eggs were all real eggs, colored with Easter egg dye if you were lucky. If you were not, plain food coloring was used or the eggs were just colored with crayons.
The egg hunt was an opportunity to get out of the classroom for a good while since our egg hunts were usually held in some farmer’s pasture or a home place a good piece from the school.
We didn’t load up on buses to ride to the egg hunt, we lined up and walked down the gravel road. I don’t know why they didn’t load us up on a bus unless it was because most, if not all, the bus drivers were farmers who ran a bus route in the morning, went home and farmed, then back to the school in the afternoon to take us home.
Our school was small and the classes were small. Two grades shared a classroom with one teacher.
There were no assistants or aides. I don’t recall any mothers coming to school to help out with classes either. Usually, if a parent came to school, something was terribly wrong.
Our teacher was the grandmotherly type, a bit on the plump side, with hair pulled back in a smooth bun, glasses, and a very sweet person. I loved my teacher, Mrs. Hall. She taught first and second grades in the same room. She also taught both my older sisters. Her husband (pushing her in the swing) was the principal for a while.
While Mrs. Hall would work with the second graders, we first graders would sit quietly and wait until it was our turn to have her attention.
She would occasionally call me over to sit with the second graders for reading and let me participate. I think this was her way of challenging students with the best means that she had available to her. It sure puffed me up!
Dick & Jane
Yes, we read about Dick, Jane, Sally, Mother, and Father. We didn’t have individual readers in class, we all read from a huge 3-foot book that sat on an easel. She would point to the words to be read with “the pointer” a long wooden stick. Beware of the “pointer.”
One day during reading, we came across a new word for most of the kids…..it was “under.” It was one of those opportunities I was able to shine…..I knew what the word was because I had a Little Golden Book about Peter Rabbit and Mr. McGregor’s garden.
Peter had escaped “under” the fence……so bingo! I was able to shout out the word. It’s a wonder I didn’t get smacked with the pointer that day. I was a bit of a show-off I’m afraid.
Coloring Easter Eggs
The students or pupils as we were called, would bring boiled eggs to school in an Easter basket if they had one. If not, they would bring them in a brown paper sack.
I’m sure 99% of the eggs were boiled the night before and colored in preparation for the next day. They most likely sat out on the kitchen table in the basket waiting patiently to be carried to school. The eggs might have been put in the refrigerator….but that can mess up the colors, so most likely they sat out all night. I know they did at my house.
In this day and age, goodness….we almost toss an egg that doesn’t make it through a meal! Unless it’s something like deviled eggs that go back in the frig almost as soon as someone has helped themselves.
Picture finding a boiled egg on your table, that has sat out overnight. No takers on that at our house!
Walking to the Easter Egg Hunt
Grades 1 through 6 would all go to the Easter egg hunt at the same time. We would walk from the school to a pasture or old home place about half a mile down the road. A couple of kids from each room would be assigned to bring a box of crackers.
I don’t remember if we ate lunch before the egg hunt or afterward….but yes, we did eat the eggs after they had been hidden in a pasture, cracks and all, 12-18 hours old. We wolfed them down with saltines and had water to drink. Sometimes we might have Kool-aid.
Each child had to bring a glass to drink out of. Mine was usually a jelly jar or peanut butter glass. Some lucky kids had those neat little collapsible metal cups. Some kids brought pint fruit jars.
Sort of off the subject, but after my dad died and I was sorting through his things, I found his collapsible metal drinking cup. He was 98 when he passed away, but at some point in his life, he had written on the bottom of the cup “J.T. ‘s drinking cup, 5 years old, Smoketop School.” Here’s a pic.
He must have treasured it because I don’t recall ever even seeing it, let alone taking it to school on Easter egg hunt day, or playing with it. Amazing how something so small could make it after all these years in a family of six without getting lost. And, it still holds water without leaking one bit!
Not Everyone was a Winner!
There were no limits on the number of eggs you could find, and there was always just one prize egg. If you found 15 eggs and your friend only found two….that was it. It was your good luck and that’s just the way the cookie crumbled.
I don’t recall what the winner got for finding the prize egg, I never found it…..saw it….but never was I so lucky to claim it.
One time it was a guinea egg…..I mean really…..who would be looking for a tiny guinea egg.
We ate our eggs and crackers in the field or in the yard of an old home place and washed them down with water. Then walked back to school.
No one died. Amazing. Times have changed. Teachers have changed. They don’t have to wear dresses and hosiery to school, and they challenge kids with much better tools than my teachers were privy to.
Teachers are still beloved. They still have fun with their students and I’m so fortunate to be able to say that my grandchildren have had wonderful teachers. They have had teachers that hugged them when they saw them at Walmart, at ballgames, or at church. Teachers that know the parents and some of us grandparents. Teachers that don’t mind getting a text from anxious Moms when kids aren’t feeling well or having a problem in class.
Easter Egg Hunt in the Backyard
We’ll have some real eggs to hide on Easter Sunday. I still like to use the Paas Egg Color and do a couple of dozen pastel eggs for our Easter egg hunt.
My opportunities for egg hunts with the grandchildren are drawing nigh…..and even though we color the eggs on Sunday morning or the evening before and put them in the refrigerator …..we don’t eat them!
Grandchildren never know what we grandparents do sometimes to make things fun for them. For example, my husband would leave some clumps of overgrown grass in the backyard so we would have some good places to hide the eggs.
Or the year I stayed up until after midnight on a Saturday night before Easter so I could finish making an adult-sized fuzzy bunny costume!
I’m falling down on my grandmotherly job, I couldn’t find a pic of Matt hunting eggs!
Easter Egg Hunt Tradition
Our grandchildren developed their own Easter tradition. Once the eggs had been hidden for the very last time….they would take much delight in chunking the eggs at oak trees in the backyard. I know, it’s a weird activity and a waste of eggs…..but you have to have some fun memories))
I’m wondering if one of these days 50 years from now…..one of them will be blogging, or whatever they call it then, about the time they threw Easter eggs at the trees in NeNe’s backyard on Easter))
Easter egg hunts from the good old days were okay, but I’m sure glad Matt and I didn’t have to walk down the highway to a field and eat cracked eggs with crackers and drink water out of a fruit jar!
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