Easter Fun from Yesteryear: American Legion & Other Egg Hunts, Part II

Introduction: In this article, Melissa Davenport Berry concludes her story about some of the fun Easter egg hunts children had nearly a century ago. Melissa is a genealogist who has a blog, AnceStory Archives, and a Facebook group, New England Family Genealogy and History.

Today I continue with the Easter egg hunts across America sponsored by American Legion posts. While the egg hunts were the spotlight event, behind the scenes Legionnaires also visited hospitals and orphanages to make sure no child went eggless or lacked an Easter basket. Here are more egg hunts from the past that spread joy for many children, sourced from GenealogyBank’s Historical Newspaper Archives.

In 1936 there were four American Legion Easter egg hunts in Richmond, Virginia, covered by the Richmond Times Dispatch.

An article about Easter egg hunts, Richmond Times Dispatch newspaper article 14 April 1936
Richmond Times Dispatch (Richmond, Virginia), 14 April 1936, page 6

The photo caption in the middle reads:

“Youthful Nimrod – Despite his tender years, three-year-old Tommy Marrin, in the foreground, succeeded in tracking a golden egg to its lair in Easter egg hunt yesterday at Humphrey Calder School. This was one of four hunts sponsored by American Legion. Part of huge crowd is shown.”

This just goes to show size has no advantage in this contest!

The photo caption on the right reads:

“Prize Winners – Nell Haller (left) found the silver egg and Anne Watson, three, found the golden egg at Hotchkiss Field Hunt of American Legion yesterday. Anne looks as though the sun’s in her eyes – or something.”

The following year in 1937 in Richmond, more than 3,500 children took part in the area’s American Legion egg hunts! A cap of age 10 years was enforced due the high numbers. Again, the Richmond Times Dispatch provided coverage.

An article about Easter egg hunts, Richmond Times Dispatch newspaper article 30 March 1937
Richmond Times Dispatch (Richmond, Virginia), 30 March 1937, page 5

This photo caption reads:

“Egg-Hunting Champs – The American Legion’s Easter egg hunt at Humphrey Calder Playground was a lively event. Left to right, Catesby W. Jones, Third District commander of the Legion, presenting the champion, Betty Powell, with the golden egg; Mrs. Minto Moore, playground director; Lou Smith, winner of the silver egg; and Joseph Musco, commander of Richmond Post No. 1, American Legion.”

Not every egg hunt was a mob scene, but each one proved just as festive. In 1941 a little over 200 boys and girls participated in the egg hunt sponsored by the Charles J. Kennedy Post of the American Legion of Chicopee Falls, Massachusetts. The grand prize was a golden egg coveted by all the kids; in all, more than 800 eggs were hidden. The golden egg was found by 12-year-old Irma Brown, whose photo was featured in the Springfield Republican.

An article about Irma Brown winning an Easter egg hunt, Springfield Republican newspaper article 27 April 1941
Springfield Republican (Springfield, Massachusetts), 27 April 1941, page 56

This photo caption reads:

“And here comes 12-years-old Irma Brown with the coveted egg! So surprised when she unearthed the egg, she burst into tears. Why? Well, it was only the second one she had found. The Legionnaires had planted more than 800.”

An article about Easter egg hunts, Springfield Republican newspaper article 27 April 1941
Springfield Republican (Springfield, Massachusetts), 27 April 1941, page 56

This photo caption reads:

“Enacting the usual ‘to the victor go the spoils’ scene! However, here are the winners. Something must have gone wrong. Usually it’s the girls who are able to find hidden objects. In this case the boys won. Left to right, Alfred Boisbere, with 37 eggs; Eugene Picard, 31; and John Goonan, with 23. Irma Brown is receiving a prize of $5.00 [that is about 87 bucks today!] from chairman Danz for her efforts.”

At Hamilton Township, New Jersey, in 1942, youngsters under five years of age received awards hung on a decorated Easter tree at the Trenton Fair Grounds. The Hamilton Township Post, American Legion, coordinated the egg hunt with the Parks and Recreation Committee. Money may not grow on trees, but toy treats certainly do!

An article about Easter egg hunts, Trenton Evening Times newspaper article 5 April 1942
Trenton Evening Times (Trenton, New Jersey), 5 April 1942, page 3

This photo caption reads:

“Hamilton Township youngsters under five years of age who participated in an egg hunt at the Trenton Fair Grounds yesterday are shown receiving their awards from a decorated tree. Howard Edwards, of the Hamilton Township Recreation Committee, is assisting. Members of the recreation group and Hamilton Township Post, American Legion, sponsored the event.”

Thousands of children and their parents enjoyed the Easter egg hunt in Memphis, Tennessee, in 1948.

An article about Easter egg hunts, Commercial Appeal newspaper article 29 March 1948
Commercial Appeal (Memphis, Tennessee), 29 March 1948, page 11

This photo caption reads:

“Thousands of children and their proud parents gathered in Overton Park yesterday for the annual Easter egg hunt sponsored by the Memphis Park Commission and Memphis Post No. 1 of the American Legion. Everyone had a good time, but one of the happiest was five-year-old Patsy Byrd (left), daughter of Mr. and Mrs. R. L. Byrd of 977 Pope. Her big smile mirrored her joy when she won the big, white rabbit because she found the golden Easter egg. Nancy Lee Whitman (right), daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Al Whitman of 14 South Diana, needed no help to find her very own egg although she is only 22 months old. Yesterday’s blue skies and bright sun beckoned thousands of other Memphians onto the highway for auto rides so that they could revel in the blossoms and budding trees heralding Spring.”

In 1950 a sweet photo appeared in the Seattle Daily Times about a young egg-hunt winner.

An article about Easter egg hunts, Seattle Daily Times newspaper article 9 April 1950
Seattle Daily Times (Seattle, Washington), 9 April 1950, page 15

This photo caption reads:

“Ballard Egg-Hunt Winner: Linda Sue Johnson, 2 years old, toddled off with the prized golden egg in an Easter egg hunt yesterday in Upper Golden Gardens. The search was sponsored by the Bert Cochran Post (Ballard) of the American Legion. Held by her mother, Mrs. Clarence Johnson, 32531/2 20th Av. W., Linda Sue cautiously accepted her award, a wooly lamb, from Walt Fallis, chairman of the hunt committee. More than 1,200 children participated.”

The American Legion continues the Easter egg hunts today! Happy Easter!

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