‘Catch Up!’ Go get those eggs

Published 12:00 am Friday, April 13, 2001

Features Editor

Some memories stick in your head like glue.

Sara Bowden will never forget an Easter egg hunt at Reynolds Pond when she was a little girl.

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"Our church, Brundidge Methodist, always had an Easter egg hunt," she said. "Most of the time it was at Watkins Woods on the north end of town, but Miss Maude Brown was our Sunday school teacher that year and she had the hunt for us. She lived across the street from Reynolds Pond and had our Easter egg hunt over there."

Children off all ages combed the woods looking for brightly colored eggs and squealed with delight at each sighting.

"Some children hunted harder than others and, back then, the eggs weren’t divided equally among the hunters," Mrs. Bowden said. "Those who found a lot, got a lot; those who didn’t look very hard didn’t find many eggs and didn’t have many eggs. That’s just the way it was."

One child, whether it was a boy or girl, is not really important, so Mrs. Bowden has forgotten that.

"The one who found the most eggs always got a prize and the one who found the golden egg got a prize," Mrs. Bowden said. "This time, Miss Maude gave the one who found the least number of eggs a prize – a bottle of ketchup. The idea behind it was to say, ‘Catch up! Go get those eggs!’"

From that day to this, Mrs. Bowden is the queen of the hen house around Brundidge. She probably colors and decorates more Easter eggs than any other dozen people put together. It’s a tradition with her.

"When I was growing up, our Easter eggs were hard boiled eggs that we either dyed with food coloring or painted with our little water color sets," Mrs. Bowden said. "Sometimes we would color them with crayons, but we always thought they were the most beautiful eggs we had ever seen."

Beautiful, colorful, fun to hunt – but not good to eat.

"Especially after they had been boiled for five days and hunted for four hours," Mrs. Bowden said. "I don’t know of any children who ate them. We just threw them at each other and cracked them over each other’s head."

Not surprisingly then, the women around Brundidge called upon a kinder, gentler Easter bunny to deliver eggs to their children.

So, they created what is known as the Brundidge Easter Egg.

"Long before Easter, our mothers would start saving eggs," Mrs. Bowden said. "They would crack a hole in one end about the size of a quarter and empty the yolk and white out. Then, they would wash the shell out real good and set it, upside down, on the window sill to dry out."

Whenever children saw eggs lined up in the kitchen window, they knew Easter was on its way.

The eggs were colored and stuffed with candy – Hershey kisses, corn candy and jelly beans.

"To keep the candy in and the ants out when we hunted the eggs, our mothers would make a paste of flour and water and glue a piece of tissue paper over the opening of the candy-stuffed eggs."

The fragile eggs cut hunting time in half because those that weren’t broken by aggressive little hunters were eaten by hungry little hunters. Few were cracked on heads – that would have been a waste.

When little Sara grew up and had children of her own, the Easter Bunny found a way to make plastic eggs and the Brundidge eggs were all but forgotten – but Sara Bowden didn’t forget.

Every year, weeks before Easter, she begins to line her kitchen window with empty egg shells. Then she dyes them, paints them and gives each of her five children at least a dozen, which they proudly display in their own homes.

"The children still expect, and want, their Easter eggs," she said, laughing, "but the grandchildren don’t care a thing about them. But one day they might ‘catchup’ with the Brundidge Easter Egg tradition. I hope so, anyway."