My parents were alive in the 1970s. At this time of year Dad would devote a considerable amount of his time in devising, what he called, his grand-children’s ‘grand Easter Egg hunt’. There were my four youngsters and my brother’s slightly older two.
Needless to say, before we were to meet, my Dad spent days, selecting hiding places, both within the old house where we lived, as well as in the garden. He would spend even more time making up simple, but cryptic, clues in verse. Careful reading showed where each small chocolate cream egg might be found. When the clues were handed out to the six children he’d had individual clues, taking into account, their age. He also wrote them to stretch their individual vocabulary and logic skills.
The rules were, that if stuck, each child could ask for help from either of their parents, or Granny. But none of the children should be told where to look. A big fuss was made over any of the children who solved their puzzle by themselves. As each foil wrapped egg was found and taken to Granddad who, with due ceremony, had the egg placed on a card with the child’s name written on it. These cards were always put in the centre on the dining room table. Granddad, (who was a talented artist) took a great deal of care, in writing each child’s name on the cards, with his special calligraphy pens, which he kept for these special occasions.
That fairly simple set of puzzles was not the end however. With all six adults and six children seated in the living room Granddad would present his master challenge. A poster sized card with (again in verse) a most difficult cryptic, obscure rhyme that on first reading, often made, little or no sense at all. But, with perseverance, family knowledge of world and local events, all taken into account, a place or country might be deduced. Finding the location or place was key to the start. Like that old radio panel game twenty questions – Dad (Granddad) would restrict his answers to either YES or NO (while he counted down).
We were all collectively eager to solve the riddle, as we knew Mum (Granny) had scrimped and saved more than a few shillings over the year so that, quite a large filled chocolate egg could be presented as the ultimate winning Easter egg prize. One year around the mid-1970s the clues began with “fear of Abdul-Abdulbul Amir – The legendary fight with, Ivan Skavinsky Skavar? We thought that Abdul might have been Turkish but knew Ivan was definitely a Russian. The following clue was military conflict which led us to tensions between America supporting south Vietnam with Russia aiding the north. That war had started in the 1950s and only ended in 1975. Which led to the next clue, and so on until finally Dad said, “Well Done.”
Sometimes, we could not solve the puzzle. Dad would then have to explain where we had either not understood one of the clues properly or dived off, on a completely wrong assumption. We enjoyed those mental challenges, each Christmas and Easter. The puzzle solved or not, the big egg was produced and we all got to choose one of the sweets inside. The kids got to take their cream eggs home, at the end of the quiz.
Those times were seen as quite special, even now! I am so disappointed that now children, or even their parents, do not engage in intellectual conversation, activities, or interactive play and worse, their parents seem to prefer to see their own children glued to the phone, Ipad or TV. In those days we didn’t have home computers, pop music, or salacious sex titivation or the violence in films. I do think that in many ways those times were better.