My dad always said that people in Letcher County were “hard up for entertainment” right up until he died. Maybe that was why he came up with so many gimmicks and novelties for every holiday or occasion that came up at the drive-in theatre.
It started in the middle ‘50s running into the very early ‘60s. It seemed like a ridiculous idea to me that every church you could think of, many schools and even private parties had the proverbial Easter egg hunt, that anybody go to a Easter egg hunt at a drivein theatre, naw. But they did, they came in droves, mostly miners with carloads of little kids, eyes wild with excitement and acting like they were searching for gold nuggets rather than a simple boiled egg, many wearing attempts or semblances of a “Sunday outfit”!
My dad bought the eggs, my mother and I colored them, and of course yours truly, just a kid myself at the time, was ordered to hide them!
Despite the success of the venture my dad received complaints that the eggs were too easy to find and the kids that got there the earliest got all the eggs! I vowed to do better the second year, so I made them hard to find.
Despite the continued success of the event, some accused my dad of having no eggs at all there, just a gimmick to sell more tickets to go to the movie.
The third year I decided to compromise. I would make half the eggs easy to find and half hard to find. This worked a little better, but even at that hiding Easter eggs at a drive-in theatre is not easy. One must hide them all up against the fence in a great circle. You can’t hide any in the center or in the middle where parking cars might run over and crush the eggs, or even worse, some poor kid might get run over by a parking car while trying to find an egg!
However, over the course of this annual event, I somehow drifted into a pattern of making half the eggs ridiculously easy to find and the other half virtually impossible to find. Seemed no way I could ever win out!
The last year of the event my dad had had a load of gravel dumped in the lower right corner of the lot over near the railroad. It wasn’t the fine kind of gravel either, it was the thick course kind. My dad was going to replenish some of that in the driveways between the ramps.
Now why I don’t know, but it became the meeting place of all the adult men who came to the drive-in to talk with my dad. I was a kid and usually wore blue jeans, which are supposed to get dirty, but why grown men want to sit on a gravel pile to have their powwows and whose seat of their pants looks like some school blackboard’s that’s just been erased is a mystery to me still, but that was the way it was and where my story will end.
When Easter came that year I went to the beloved gravel pile and I stuck an egg into the apex of the gravel pile and stuck a stick in on top of it to offer a clue to someone that something might be beneath it! Alfred Adams from Cromona, my dad’s projectionist, came down early that night to check out my hiding places which he did every year. After he finished he said to me, “Well, there is one of your eggs nobody is going to ever find”.
As darkness was encroaching as I walked through the field, I spotted a boy about 6 or 7 crying. When I asked him what was wrong, his dad said that all of his siblings had found an egg but him. When I asked him if he minded if I gave him a help, the surprised dad said, “Not at all.”
I took the boy over to the sacred gravel pile. I said, “What do you see?” and the boy replied “A rock pile.” I said, “What else?” he said “A stick stuck in the top.” I said, “I labored all day shoveling this gravel pile out of the back of a pickup truck and now someone has gone and stuck a stick in it. I’ve been trying all day to pull out that ugly stick, but I’m too heavy and keep sliding off of it. You’re small. Can you get it out for me? If you will, I’ve got an extra Easter egg at home (pointing to my house) that I will give you.”
The boy said “Great” and scampered up the heap. As he reached for the stick, I said, “Make sure nothing is under that stick. I don’t want anything else on my gravel pile.” The boy said, “Ok”, but a second later the boy was screaming, “Look what I found” as he held the Easter egg all the way over his head. I then said “Well, I’ll be dogged!”