The Baltimore Sun ran weekly writing contests that would solicit submissions surrounding a specific theme from children ages 15 and younger, with the top entries winning $5 and select runners-up receiving $1.
In April 1912, one of the topics was to describe “The Most Memorable Easter in My Life.”
It’s fascinating to see how the celebrations were so similar when life was so different.
A submission from Emma Bauer, 9, remembered a somber Easter experience:
“About four years ago I had the measles. I was taken sick for about a week before Easter and the doctor said I had to be put to bed. All my pleasure that I had looked forward to having was spoiled. … I could hear my little playmates outside with their baskets showing each other what the rabbit had brought them and it made me feel very badly. That was indeed a very sorrowful Easter for me and I never will forget it.”
Katie Hanixman, 12, remembered a surprise:
“When I was 10 years of age, it was a few days before Easter, my father told me I would have something very nice for Easter. I tried to guess but could not succeed, so my father told me to wait till it came. When I got up Easter morning I ate my breakfast and was very anxious to see what I had. My father told me to go into my mother’s room and see what I had. I looked in the trunk and all around. As I looked toward the bed to my surprise I spied (can you guess?) a little baby sister. I was very much pleased and will not forget it.”
Elizabeth Gardner, then 14, described the joy she felt when she celebrated her 8th Easter, and won a dollar for her efforts:
“Since I can remember, I have been taught to look upon Easter as a purely religious festival, and have really enjoyed going to services at church, as the prettily-decorated church, fine singing, the white hangings and lighted candles will always be impressive.
“Yet there has always been a longing to possess numerous Easter eggs, chickens, etc., so imagine my delight one Easter Sunday morning, when I was 8 years old, to have my grandmother come in with two pretty baskets filled with assorted eggs, chickens and even ducks that could float when placed in water, and topped off by a delicious chocolate bunny. One basket was for my sister and one for myself. We played and had a merry time and displayed our treasures to all visitors, but as much as we loved the sight of them we could not resist eating, and by night many had disappeared.”
Lastly, William Easter Waidner, 7, also won $1 for his submission:
“I was born on Easter morning, April 23, 1905. My mother told me I was her Easter basket that the Easter Bunny brought. Two years later my twin sisters were born on Easter Sunday. Last Easter my mother gave a big party. We had a glorious time. It was, indeed, a memorable Easter, plenty of dyed eggs and real rabbits. We had nice baskets and plenty of fun and pleasure. Easter can never leave my memory, as it was very pleasant on April 16 last year.”
With a name and memory like that, how could he not win?
Sources: The Baltimore Sun, April 7, 1912