Scotch tape and eggshells made for the best Easter

Published 10:50 pm Friday, April 6, 2012

Most children got chocolate bunnies and malt eggs in their Easter basket. I got switches in mine and they were usually put to use – not good use to my way of thinking – but my mama probably thought otherwise.

Not being a prissy little girl, getting dressed for church threw me into a fit just about every Sunday of my young life. But come Easter Sunday, I didn’t just throw a fit. I threw a hissy fit. Why Mama didn’t throw me in Mossy’s Gully and let him deal with me, I don’t know.

Because of me, I know she dreaded seeing Easter Sunday come, but not as much as I did.

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Easter Sunday was worse than other Sundays because I had to wear a frilly dress and nylon socks and patent leather shoes and Mama also stuck a hat on my head and made me tote a purse with a quarter in it to put in the offering plate.

One year, she bought me a headband with little artificial flowers strung all across it and a pair of white, cotton gloves.

I can only imagine how silly I looked with flowers on my head, a purse in my gloved hand and stomping around like I was walking behind a mule and plow, with my lips poked out a mile.

Talking about misery – sitting in church in a getup like that and listening to the preacher go on and on like there was no tomorrow. Why the preacher thought he had to send the service way past 12 o’clock on Easter, I don’t know. Maybe it was because the church was oddly full or maybe it was because he thought folks deserved to be seen longer in their Easter frocks. I just wanted to give him my quarter and get out of there.

Before we got home, I had shed my shoes, socks, headpiece and was unsashed and unbuttoned and ready to dash as soon as the car stopped.

After I got comfortable, Easter Sunday picked up. I always felt sorry that I’d pitched a fit because I knew how long Mama had worked getting up Easter eggs for us to hide and hunt. But I just couldn’t help myself. I was allergic to lace. Lace made me loony.

Weeks before Easter, Mama would start saving eggs. She would chip the small end out of the egg and punch a hole in the big end with an ice pick. Then she would blow into the pick hole and the egg would come whooshing out the other end and into a bowl.

She would wash the eggshell and turn it upside down on the windowsill so it would dry out.

By the week of Easter, we would have dozens of blown eggs to color.

Back then, egg coloring came in tablets that we dropped in cups of dark vinegar and water. When the tablets dissolved, we would drop in the eggshell, stir them around until the color took. Next, we would take the eggshells out with a wire dipper that came with the packet of coloring and turn them upside down on a brown paper bag to dry.

The colors paled by today’s standards, but I thought they were the most beautiful eggs in the whole wide world.

When the eggs dried, Mama would help me put designs on them. The designs came with the coloring. They were on sheets of thin paper and we would cut them out and place them against the egg and dab them with a rag wet with vinegar. Let it stand for a minute and then pull the paper off. The design – a chicken, lamb, flower or Easter cross would be on the egg. Of course, it looked like a 90-year-old sailor’s faded tattoo but, to me, the designs were real pretty.

When the inside of the egg dried, Mama would stuff them with candy – jelly beans and corn candy and maybe blow gum – and put a cross of scotch tape over the top so the candy wouldn’t fall out.

Aunt Eleanor would come from Eufaula and bring hardboiled eggs that she had colored. She said they weren’t good to eat unless they had been hunted all afternoon.

We would hide and hunt, hunt and hide.

We didn’t scatter the eggs out on the ground like they do now so children can walk by and pick them up. We hid the eggs – in the bushes and trees, under cans, on fence posts, behind rocks and logs – hard places. So hard that we would find Easter eggs in the fall when we were raking leaves.

After we had hunted out, we would sit down and to a candy and egg feast.

Most of the candy would be gritty from all the places it had been. The scotch tape kept the candy in but wasn’t very good at keeping the dirt out. But that didn’t matter to us.

But almost better than the candy were the boiled eggs.

Aunt Eleanor was right. There’s nothing better than a dirty ol’ colored, boiled egg that has been hunted all afternoon. Sprinkle a little salt on it and you had something very special.

When I went to bed on Easter night, I always kissed Mama goodnight and hugged her real tight. I was real sorry for the fit I had thrown. I hoped she knew that because I was real proud of those eggs she had made for me and of all the fun I’d had.

I’ve seen a lot of pricey, decorator eggs but not one of them that can compare to the ones Mama made from eggshells and scotch tape.