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April 2, 1996

Reading about plans for the annual Easter egg hunt coming up next Saturday, April 6, conjures up visions of some earlier Perry traditions of the season that have been lost in antiquity, so to speak. I remember a few of them. Maybe you can add to these.

The community egg hunt that we know now has been going on here forever, it seems. The Perry Lions club has been sponsoring one in the courthouse park and at other locations for several years, and for all I know they may have started the whole thing here. But back in the 1920s and early 1930s I remember we had Easter egg hunts at the north end of Seventh street, where the spacious home of George and Juana Hall now stands. No homes were on that large section then and it was used primarily for pasture. At Easter time, however, hundreds of kids of many ages lined up just off Marchbanks street and awaited the signal to dash toward the north in search of candy eggs and other bounty. You had to be pretty, slow to miss getting at least one of the small sacks planted throughout the area.

Mr. and Mrs. W. N. Stahl had another kind of Easter game at their home, located on the southwest corner of Tenth and Elm streets, where the city school now has a parking lot. Each year on Easter Sunday afternoon Mr. and Mrs. Stahl would invite neighborhood children to their rather large front yard for a series of races for various age levels. I don't know if this was only for children of the Presbyterian church, which was just down the street, but as I recall there was a disproportionate number of kids from our Sunday school in attendance each year. My sisters, Gloria and Jeanice, and I always took part, I know.

I also remember looking forward to the event with great zest each spring. The routine was always the same. We'd go home after church for the standard roast beef Sunday dinner at noon, then change clothes and walk up the street to the Stahl home.

Mr. Stahl did not give out sacks of candy to the winners of each race, which usually consisted of about a 30-yard dash. His prizes were live bunnies and, I think, baby chickens. Yes, I know how awful that sounds today, but it was considered wonderful back then, even if most of those poor little creatures failed to survive more than a day or so when the winners returned home with them.

Kraemer's Store on the east side of the square, operated by Ott and Marguerite Edson, started their own Easter tradition. They had a glass display case on the sidewalk at the front of the store. It was about a four-foot cube, with a glass top and glass on all four sides, anchored to the concrete. Normally it contained a display of shoes or wearing apparel, but for several days before Easter the case displayed numerous live bunnies. Any child who got a new pair of shoes from Kraemer's for Easter received one of the soft, cuddly little animals. In our household at the time, new shoes for Easter were generally regarded as quite a luxury, so Jeanice, Gloria and I concentrated on trying to win a rabbit at the Stahl home. At least one of us won something there each year. Jeanice was the oldest, fastest and the best coordinated, so she was usually the prize winner among the entries from our family. Thanks to Shirley Williams and Bernice Schieffer for reminding me & Kraemer's Easter specialty.

As I say, you can probably add your own recollections of Easter egg hunts and other traditions of the season to these fond memories. These are just a few of the ones that spring readily to my mind. Didn't we have fun, 'way back then?