For me, the approach to Easter weekend was marked by the smell of farmers burning out irrigation ditches, fingers stained by Easter-egg dye, hopes my Easter basket would include jelly beans with mostly black ones, and fervent wishes for good weather on Saturday.
Good weather on Sunday would be nice as well, but not essential, because it was a day of solemnity mainly spent indoors: lilies decorating the church, a flow of meaningful words, thoughts about the importance of Easter, and an appreciation of the day’s significance.
Saturday, in contrast, meant unbridled revelry as my classmates and I assembled on West Mountain near Utah Lake to shriek and throw hard-boiled eggs at one another. We asked our mothers for lots of dyed eggs. We said we wanted to race them, hide them, even eat them, and intended to do so; but year after year we yielded to temptation and hurled them at each other’s heads.
I grew up assuming children everywhere scrubbed eggshells and bits of yolk from their hair in preparation for Easter services. Now I realize that maiming one another with decorated eggs was an aberrant Lake Shore custom.
We interrupted our melee only for lunch. Baloney sandwiches and carrot sticks remained untouched while we gorged on chocolate eggs, jellybeans, and yellow marshmallow chickens—best eaten by stretching the head away from the body with your teeth until the neck snapped.
Soon a group of boys would race by, lobbing eggs at my friends and me, and the battle would begin anew. I’ve never forgotten the satisfaction of throwing a solid hit that smashed into the ape-like forehead of Billy Franks, the school bully, and then outrunning him down the mountain.
Since that glorious moment, I’ve been inordinately fond of the feel of an egg in my hand. I even collect them.