By Norris Chambers
We stored our surplus eggs in the cellar. It was cooler there in the summer and warmer in the winter. When we went to town the buckets of eggs came out of the cellar and on to the dining room table. There they were cleaned and checked over a kerosene lamp for freshness. This process was called “candling”. In an earlier time they probably used candles instead of a lamp. If the egg looked clear when held before the light, it was OK. If it had spots or cloudiness inside, it was bad and was discarded. The eggs were then placed in cardboard boxes for the trip to the store.
On this nice Saturday morning when we were preparing to go to the little settlement that we called a town we got the eggs ready and in a couple of boxes. My mother left to pursue a few other unfinished duties. I looked at the eggs and suddenly was blessed with an idea that almost made me laugh out loud. I hurriedly got a pen and a bottle of India ink and started my folk art project. I was never an artist, but I was able to draw a reasonable likeness of Popeye or either of the Katzenjammer kids. My first masterpiece was a picture of Popeye and the words: “Don’t eat me, I’m rotten!” The black ink on the white egg made an excellent display. I completed a few more little gems and buried them well below the top layer in one of the boxes.
I can see that this was a stupid thing to do, but it seemed like a good idea at the time.
When we carried the two boxes of eggs into Mr. Logan’s general store and placed them on the counter, I almost laughed out loud thinking of the surprise someone would have when they saw my decorated eggs. Mr. Logan commented on the nice looking eggs and carried a box over to the egg table. There weren’t many eggs there and it was evident he was glad to get some. He started counting from the box and placing the eggs in the bin.
It wasn’t long before the first little gem showed up. He looked at it critically and placed it at the end of the bin, then continued to count and place the eggs carefully with the others. Then another beautiful piece of art work came out and joined the one on the end.
By this time my mother had noticed the fine drawings and had picked up the two that had been found. She turned toward me and inquired angrily, “Norris, did you do this?” She held one of the little beauties and pushed it almost in my face. Before I could answer she turned to Mr. Logan and began apologizing.
When he finished counting and displaying the eggs there were seven with the attractive decorations. My mother was giving me a very distasteful look and was still apologizing for the ruined eggs.
“I’ll take them back home,” she said, “and I promise it won’t happen again.
I felt a little better when Mr. Logan smiled.
“Oh, that’s all right,” he said, “I think the drawings are right nice. I’ll take them home for my own use.”
My mother shopped about in the store for a few minutes and found a few items she needed. When they finished at the cash register she got a little money back.
This should be the end of the story, but it wasn’t. When we got home the first thing my mother did was locate her favorite razor strap and approach me with a scowl on her face. One thing my mother excelled at was using the big razor strap. No doubt it eventually made a better boy out of me, but it took several applications to get positive results.
That treatment must have worked because I never decorated any more eggs for the market. I have been legally guilty a few times of adding my folk art to boiled eggs at Easter time!
If you haven’t tried it, perhaps you should. It is a lot of fun and you might be recognized as the newest folk artist in your home area! If you are unfortunate enough to receive punishment, as I did, maybe it will help to shape you into a better person!
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Copyright © 2007 Norris Chambers