In the family of Artie and Gertie Shelton there were 8 Uncles and two Aunts, and all had kids. Several of my cousins were older than some of my Uncles. (I guess Grandpa had a hard time figuring out what was causing all those kids . . . )
At the time of which I write Grandpa and Grandma lived out at Simmons Chapel. This land was owed by a Mr. Rainey and was east of Rector some six or eight miles, then down a little gravel road another couple of miles south on County Road 531 (at least as far as I can tell). Simmons chapel sat east of the crossroad on Country Road 508.
Every Easter, after Sunday School, all the kids would bring their families and all the Easter eggs they had colored. Back then that was an all day chore as the process of creating Easter eggs was quite extensive. First, the eggs had to be washed, then they were boiled until hard. After setting out long enough to cool, mom would mix up the colors in their separate little bowl, one for each color.
Each egg would be placed into the dye for a couple of minutes, then placed on a plate to dry, again, a separate plate for each color. After they were dry real good mom would then decide whether the egg had to be run through the color again. Some of the colors were good with one dip, but other colors, like the yellow, had to be dipped several times.
After the colors were set real nice mom would sometimes experiement with the different colors by mixing the remainder of the dyes. Sometimes if she had the extra time she would place half of the egg in the dye holding it steady, then set it out to dry. After drying, she would place the other end of the egg into the dye producing a multi-colored egg. But that was effort intensive and took a lot of time.
After careful packing and loading into the car for transport out to Grandpa and Grandmas house after church, and after a big old Sunday dinner, the adults would hide them in the grain field across the road from the house, and then all the children would scramble in the hunt to get the most.
But it took sooooo long for everybody to eat. Seemed like they sat around the table for hours!
Click on the picture to the right for names.
(In the picture at right I am third from the right directly under the Easter basket.)
Since there were so many eggs, it wasn't long before everyone had eaten their fill, with at least 10 or twelve dozen eggs left over. What do you do with Easter eggs that you can't eat?
It is amazing that the ingenuity of that many cousins together in a passel hasn't found a way to the moon long before NASA ever did. What one cousin didn't think of, the other would. So, it wasn't surprising that one of the eggs found its mark after being hurled into the warm spring sun.
Suddenly, the air was ablaze with colors flying every direction. And you always knew when one of the younger kids got snockered with an hard-boiled egg. The incessant crying, and a kid running uncontrollably across the gravel road without even looking for cars, fully intending to tattle on the offending thrower.
Now, with certain trouble on the way, it was time to hide. The barn was a wonderful maze of lofts, stalls, cribs, and ladders. Plus, there was machinery everywhere. Finding a hiding place was no problem! Plus, it was hard to hit someone in there and even harder to throw from that hiding spot.
I had run out of ammunition, and ran into the back door of the house, into the kitchen and had several more eggs in my hands and pockets when Mom walked in.
"Are you throwing those eggs?" she demanded!
"No Mom" I fibbed, and answered a little too eagerly.
"Well you better not be wasting those eggs! I'll paddle your britches if I catch you throwing them!"
I knew she meant business. Mom was not faint-hearted when it came to administering the switch on my caboose. So, I knew if I got caught, I was gonna get it!
I hastily cracked one of the eggs on my head and proceeded to strip the shell away. I reached for the salt and pepper, and dressed it up nicely. Since that was probably the 6th or 7th egg I had eaten, I didn't have much of an appetite for it. But, I proceeded to munch the thing to prove that I was sure enough gonna eat it.
By this time, I was nearly getting sick. I had forced that last one down too quickly and couldn't get it to go on down my throat. I ran to the pump and quickly primed it and was pumping it furiously to get enough water to attempt a wash down the offending yolk.
It was either that or try to get it back up, and as dry as it was, I didn't think I was going to have much luck with that either.
So, there I was, gulping the water down, and trying to get it to wash the yolk which was plastered to the inside of my throat. Suddenly, I experienced what the younger kids was feeling when they were struck by an hardboiled egg flying at the speed of light.
It was like a rock hitting the side of my head. I had no more than yelled when another hit me. Then, every one of the cousins had down on me. They were all hurling their entire load of ammo at me.
All of the cousins played baseball, but one was a pitcher (a south-paw, but boy was he good!). And, him being left handed, could sail whatever object was close to hand, whether it be a corn cob, (sometimes heavy with the corn still on, sometimes heavy with pig mud . . .), or a Black Walnut (with the shell intact), or dirt clod . . . or rock!
He threw so fast it was hard to judge just how the oncoming object (flying faster almost than the speed of sound), could be dodged. The only problem with that was, you was already hit and tearing up! Do you haven any idea how shameful it is to cry in front of your cousins? Especially the girls.
I was crying, and laughing, and choking, and yelling, and trying to get my ammo out of my britches pockets. They weren't going to get away with that! That was just wrong! I started hurling my eggs at anybody that dared peek around the corner. 'bout then, someone stepped around the corner and I let em have it.
Oh NO!! It was Mom. She had stepped out to see what all the noise was about. And I had blindly cold-cocked her with the very Easter eggs she had colored and had only minutes before warned me not to be throwing.
Boy, I was in deep do-do! I looked around, and all the cousins were innocently standing around in plain sight. They didn't know why I had attacked them so viciously.
(Why, those lying little brats! Oh well, that's cousins for you!) Mom had already reached up to the willow tree, and had gotten her a good switch.
"Oh no" I groaned. "Not a willow switch!" I had been on the receiving end of a willow switch before. They followed the curve of your buttocks precisely. Even the very depths of your crack would be found out by the limberness of the switch. And in front of all the cousins?!?!? Including the girls!
"Oh boy!" I thought. "This is gonna hurt! And right in front of all my cousins! Kill me, but don't whip me in front of all my cousins!"
Here came Mom. I knew I was a fixin to get the busting of my life. I braced myself, for I knew this was going to be painful, and very embarrassing. Mom had a big ol welt on her arm where I had plastered her. That hurt me more than any whipping she could have ever given me. And the yolk had crumbled on her fine Sunday dress, made an awful mess.
Oh man, I sure felt bad! I'd hit my Mom! I'd hurt her first by lying to her, then hitting her with the egg. On top of all that, I'd made such a mess on her dress.
But, I was in for a surprise! Mom had been watching me, and she came at me full speed ahead. But she passed me right by and dove into the passle of cousins standing around. She got in several licks with the switch before any of them could get away.
Talking about a racket! She had the big ones that had done the actual throwing a crying like babies, and the littlest were screaming bloody murder as well. They were scared to death that they were going to get a beating of a lifetime too.
Out from the kitchen came the whole of the Uncles, Aunts, Grandpa and Grandma. When Mom told what they had done, switches started flying everywhere!
I lucked out! Had the cousins not thrown their eggs before I got the one stuck in my throat down, I would have plastered them first!
As it was, I turned out to be the only kid with eggs that didn't get a good switching!
Hey, let's face it. I was an angel . . .).