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Sometimes, the prize egg slips out of reach

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By Greg Summers

I stood in the living room of Granny Summers’ house early one Easter Sunday afternoon with my thoughts running wild. The window shades were pulled down and the front door was shut tight. 

After a covered-dish, resurrection day dinner that included just about any and everything that Granny, Momma and my five aunts could dream up, I was daydreaming until Aunt Judy’s voice brought me back into reality.

I was about to pull the window shade out to see where Uncle Luther and Uncle Joe were hiding the Easter eggs. With four sons, Aunt Judy knew that when boys get quiet, something is brewing. She had eyes in the back of her head. 

“You boys stay away from those windows,” she shouted from the kitchen. Her words didn’t apply to my only girl cousin, Sandy, who just sat quietly and watched while the 13 hard-headed Summers’ grandsons sat down.

Hiding eggs while my aunts and mom cleaned up the kitchen were men’s work and two of my uncles, the late Luther Roach and the late Joe Stout, were pros at it. 

Daddy and another uncle, Gene Workman, would point out possible places to hide eggs, but never did much of the hiding. A fourth uncle, the late David Dingler, wasn’t much of an egg hider, either.

Uncle David had something else to occupy his time that Easter. After 54 holes of play in The Masters, his golfing hero, Jack Nicklaus, had a 1-shot lead.

The Golden Bear was about to tee off and the image on Granny’s black and white TV set was a little too fuzzy for Uncle David’s tastes.

The dim picture tube never seemed to bother Granny at all. It still picked up Channel 3 pretty clear. And as long as Granny could watch Mike Karr and Nancy Pollock (who slept in twin beds, by the way) on “The Edge of Night,” she was perfectly happy. 

“Oh, come on!” Uncle David yelled at the television, as he set a paper plate with a slice of pound cake on it beside him on the couch and cup of hot, strong coffee by his feet. He tramped across the den floor to adjust the makeshift coat-hanger television antenna to improve the reception.

“That’s better,” he said, while returning back to the couch and retrieving his coffee cup.

Suddenly the front door swung open. It was Uncle Luke.

“Y’all get to it,” he said.

Easter baskets in hand, we made a beeline for the front porch. It looked like opening day at Springs Park when we poured out into the yard for the first round of the annual “New Cut Easter Egg Hunt.”

The rules were simple. There would be three rounds of competition. Whoever collected the most eggs each round got a quarter.

Somewhere in the yard –  amid the yellow bell bush, the apple tree and the swing set – was a magic egg with a quarter inside. It could be behind the well house, by the shed or the old chicken coop. The next round, the money egg contained a Kennedy half dollar. The final round would be a dollar bill.

I had high hopes that year, having never gotten any of the prize money at previous Easter egg hunts.

I already had the prize money spent, too. There was a cool-looking Boeing SST airplane model kit on one of the discount tables at Griffin’s 88 Cents Store. It had been marked down after the government shut down the program.

Every time I picked up an egg, I shook it to see if it rattled. Hey. I wasn’t just gathering up eggs, I was picking up a model airplane box.

There was a bright pink plastic egg by Granny’s rose bush. Sure as shooting, it rattled. I’m off to a good start, I thought.

“Got it,” I yelled to my cousins, as I opened the egg to find a shiny quarter inside. Within five minutes, we counted up to make sure we had gathered all the eggs before heading back into the living room for Round 2.

Uncle David was still watching golf, but had undone his belt to “make a little room.”

True to form, I managed to win Round 2, finding the 50-cent piece inside an egg tucked behind one of legs of Granny’s old manual wringer clothes washer in the back yard.

“I got another one,” I shouted. This time there was a reply.

“He’s cheatin’, ” one of the Dingler boys hollered.

“Did not,” I answered. Hey, the old washing machine was out back and the family photo-lined living room was at the front. The only way I could’ve known where that egg was hidden was by using Aunt Judy’s second pair of eyes. 

I was the first one back into the living room to prepare for my egg hunt clean sweep. Hey, Richard Petty won 10 races in a row, I thought. Anything is possible.

Everybody who walked past gave me a real mean look. Temporarily cousin-less, I sat quietly while they grumbled.

“Keep it down in there,” Uncle David shouted. “Jack is putting.”

Seeing how I wasn’t welcome in the living room, I peeked around the corner to see what was happening at National Hills. I don’t know what color shirt Nicklaus was wearing, but he definitely had on white bell-bottom pants and white shoes.

Uncle David never took his eyes off the TV screen to see who it was, but said Nicklaus had lost his big lead at Amen Corner (whatever it was). Sorta’ makes sense, though. I’ve been known to call on the Lord for protection while standing in the corner.

“Jack’s about 40 feet from the pin on No. 16. and if he makes it, he’ll win,” Uncle David said. I had no idea what my uncle was talking about.

I thought “16” was the number painted on the side of Mark Donahue’s Matador.

When the ball rolled into the cup, Uncle David stood up and started doing the barnyard shuffle. It was a shame that I was the only one seeing him boogie down. This is some pretty funny stuff, I thought. I saw it as a sign from above. That model airplane was about to be mine.

Just as I walked back into the living room, the door flew open and we flew outside without a single word.

I searched every hiding place I could find, getting my share of plastic eggs in Round 3, but all the eggs were empty.

Suddenly there was a high-pitched squeal coming from across the yard. I looked up. It was Sandy.

She found the egg with the dollar inside and was waving it around over her head.

Dumb old girl. Girls always mess up everything.

My Easter Sunday dream of hanging a supersonic jetliner from the ceiling of my bedroom with fishing line was dashed.

Oh, well, I’m still 75 cents to the good.

From the noise Uncle David is making in the living room right now, old Jack must be faring just a little better.

– Greg Summers is features editor of The Lancaster News