The Ugly Egg

It was sometime in the late 1970’s as best I recall. My Bride, daughter Rachel and I lived in a far-south Chicago suburb. It was an area bordering on rural but developers were quickly snatching up surrounding farmland and putting in houses. We lived in a little niche next to a creek bed that time and development seemed to have passed by.

A bank was opening in the area and had placed a newspaper ad. They were sponsoring an Easter egg contest for pre-school kids with the prize being a $25 Savings account awarded in their name. This served to promote the new bank’s opening and also trying to foster the idea of saving among young people. Rules called for the Egg within a basket or similar holder to be completely done by the child without parental help.

I remember speaking to our little girl about this and getting her excited about participating in the contest. She was probably five years old at the time.

We prepared the egg colorings in coffee cups, as she was just too young to engineer such a task. But after that we cut her loose with some hard-boiled eggs and that funny little wire thing that was provided with coloring kits. It had a piece for a handle with a bent round section in which you placed your egg. With the egg held in the rounded part of the wire contraption it allowed the user to dip the egg into the hot liquid without getting your hands in the coloring.

I believe we had about three colorings and Rachel carefully placed an egg into the wire hoop and her little hands dipped the egg into each of the colorings – one color at a time.

But with no skills or training on artful egg coloring, the resulting egg was an ugly hodgepodge of sickly looking colors. Regardless, Mom and Dad praised her for her work and she set the Ugly Egg aside to cool and dry.

The next part of the project was involved creating the Easter basket. Back then we had a large box of stick matches – the kind with a rectangular cover, open at each end in which the plain gray cardboard box could be slid into from either end.

We emptied the box of matches and Rachel was quite happy to use this as her “basket”.

“Easter baskets always have grass in them, Rachel” I told her. So outside we went and the yard yielded enough new grass growth just for her use. Her little hand would grab a clump of grass – she pulled as much as her small hand allowed and deposited the grass into the matchbox bottom to form a bed for her egg.

Once she was satisfied she had enough grass, we went back into the house. She placed her now dry Ugly Egg onto the grass bed of the matchbox and beamed at Mom and Dad, extremely pleased with her accomplishment. We too were all smiles, knowing that her chances of winning with this dubious artistic effort were remote but still overjoyed with her attempt.

The next day we piled into the car, Rachel holding her creation along the ride and went several miles to the new bank location. When we entered, there were already half a dozen or more local children in the lobby accompanied by one or both parents.


We moved to the table holding the collective efforts of all the children participating and were immediately struck by one thing – the absolute beauty and intricacy of child-made Easter Eggs with baskets. Without exception each of the other entrants sported an achievement that seemed unimaginable to have been made without adult participation.

Some of the eggs were beautifully colored and very artistic. Some of the baskets were obviously purchased with grass beds provided by the latest and greatest in artificial simulated grass. Alongside these jewels Rachel placed her entry – the Ugly Egg in a matchbox basket with real grass. It was like a rusted hulk of an old rowboat placed on display with the Queen Mary and other grandiose ocean going liners.

The Bank officials viewed each of the entries and then huddled together to compare notes. They obviously saw one particular entrant had adhered strictly to the rules of the contest because shortly thereafter one of the bank people proudly announced the winner.

It was Rachel’s Ugly Egg.

Rachel was just smiling ear to ear as she was congratulated and given a savings passbook in her name to the tune of $25! Rachel’s Mom and Dad were especially delighted because it proved two things. Rachel entered a contest and followed the contest rules. The bank officials recognized this by awarding her the prize.

Its just one of those stories that is wonderful to tell because it revealed something about human spirit and people recognizing that spirit. The ride home was with our daughter having the biggest smile imaginable on her face. And what a wonderful life lesson it provided for her at such a tender age.

G. Kellerman (Rachel’s Dad)