Easter Egg Hunts have really changed over the years. Some of the traditions date further back than Christ. The egg represents rolling the stone from the grave where Jesus had been laid.
One of the advantages of growing up in a rural community is that each child can participate in all the traditions of the Easter Egg Hunt.
First, the family has raised the hen who laid the eggs. Let me tell you gathering those eggs was not a joy. The mother hen, like all mothers, was brutally protective of the eggs she was sitting on. Her sharp beak was her weapon.
After one or two days the eggs were boiled and set aside. No one wanted to find a raw egg, that when broken, spewed egg yolk all over the new Easter frock.
Just before the holiday, mothers gathered their brood of children to decorate the eggs. Some used store-bought dyes, but such things as onion skins, beets, cabbage leaves, and other vegetables served as dye. Cups were filled with the colors ready for the children to dye their eggs. Many children were very talented and creative with egg art.
Schools generally took a holiday at Easter time. (We had not Spring Break.) Just before the holiday, children went to rural places for an Easter Egg Hunt and picnic.
When I was in second grade, my mother dressed me in my last year’s Easter dress and shoes and sent me to the Easter Egg Hunt. She had made the dress. My shoes were patent leather. I did not, however, wear my Easter bonnet.
After the picnic the student could go looking for the decorated eggs. It wasn’t a simple stroll in the woods, but a giant challenge to see who gathered the most eggs.
No one told me, or I didn’t listen, that we were near an old oil field site. If you have never visited an oil field, you are in for a surprise. The oil does not smoothly flow from the ground into pipes leading to storage tanks. No, it comes out of the ground with velocity. Wherever it hits the ground, it stays there is liquid form.
I saw some eggs near a tree and started after them, without looking at the ground. Suddenly I felt liquid oozing into my shoes. I had heard my mother shouting to tell me to watch what I was doing. I was watching, and, those eggs were still by that tree, but along the way I had encountered a slush pit, where the oil was left untended.
Needless to say, my shoes were coated with oil but not stuck in the slush pit, thank goodness. Mother was not happy. And the boys in my class were laughing their heads’ off. Mother forgave me but not those boys. Ten years later when we graduated from high school, they were still reminding me of slush pits and patent shoes.
That was the last Easter Egg Hunt I recall. It was about the time stores began selling plastic eggs and Easter Egg dye kits. It was the end of an era. It was also the last pair of black patent shoes I ever owned.
Have a safe Easter Holiday. Thankfully, there are no oil fields in Hunt County. But patent shoes are still worn in the spring.
Taylor is chairman of the Hunt County Historical Commission. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.