Yesterday I had the opportunity to help with Matt's first grade class Easter Egg hunt. Another one of the pleasures of retirement, to be able to go to the 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 and pretty much left most of them laying in plain site. Kids still had fun, and it was a success.
On my way home, I couldn't help but think about the Easter egg hunts that we had at school when I was growing up in the 1950's. No plastic eggs for us back then. Our eggs were all real eggs, colored with Easter egg dye if you were lucky and if not, plain food color was used or eggs 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 classes were small. Two grades shared a classroom.
Our teacher was the grandmotherly type, a bit on the plump side, hair pulled back in a smooth bun, glasses, and a very sweet person. I loved my teacher, Mrs. Hall. She taught both grades in the same room. She also taught both my older sisters. While she was working 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!
Yes, we read about Dick, Jane, Sally, Mother and Father. We didn't have individual readers in that class, we all read from a huge 3 foot book that sat on an easel and she pointed to the words with "the pointer" a long wooden stick. Beware of the "pointer." We pulled up chairs in a semi-circle facing the book and the reading began.
Image courtesy of Kathleen W Deady Children's Author
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.
Back to the egg hunt. Everyone would bring their eggs to school in an Easter basket if they had one, or a sack. I'm sure 99% of the eggs were boiled the night before and colored for the next day. Most likely, they sat out on the kitchen table in the basket waiting patiently to be carried to school. They might have been put in the refrigerator....but that can mess up the colors, so most likely they sat out all night.
In this day and age, goodness....we toss an egg that doesn't make it through a meal at our house! 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.
Grades 1 through 6 would all go to the egg hunt at the same time. In each room, a couple of kids would be assigned to bring a box of crackers. I don't remember if we ate lunch before the egg hunt or afterwards....but yes, we did eat the eggs after they had been hidden in a pasture, cracks and all, 12-18 hours old and wolfed down with saltines and water to drink. Each child had to bring a glass to drink out of, mine was usually a jelly or peanut butter glass. Some lucky kids had those neat little collapsible metal glasses, some brought fruit jars.
There were no limits on the number of eggs you could find, and there was always just one prize egg. 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 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 hose to school, and they challenge kids with much better tools than my teachers were privy too. They are still beloved. They still fun with students and I'm so fortunate to be able to say that my grandchildren have had wonderful teachers. Teachers that hug them when they see them in Wal Mart or 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.
We'll have some real Easter eggs for hiding on Sunday. I still like to get out the Paas Egg Color and do a couple of dozen for an 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.
Our grandchildren have developed their own tradition. Once the eggs have been hidden for the very last time....they take delight in chunking the eggs at oak trees in the back yard. I know, it's a weird activity and a waste of eggs.....but you have to have some memories.....I'm wondering if one of these days 40 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 back yard on Easter.....
The good old days.....they were okay, but I'm sure glad Matt didn't have to walk down the highway to a field and eat cracked eggs!