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Woodworking Easter Eggs
As a child, many of us couldn’t wait for Easter morning. When I was growing up, one of our exciting traditions was searching for easter eggs that my parents hid in the backyard in Cassopolis, MI. The excitement for me was two-fold:
- The search to find the most eggs. Who didn’t want to find the most eggs and be the “winner’ and best finder? This led to the next exciting item…
- Eating all of the candy that you found like. I loved little peeps, jelly beans, chocolate, and yes, the actual hard-boiled eggs.
As an adult, I still like the idea of Easter Eggs. I am in the software development profession, and there is the idea of Easter eggs. Things that are programmed as hidden code but do something quirky when a certain sequence of keys are typed. In the Android Operating System, for instance, for each new release, there is an Easter egg in the settings sections that show the “dessert” nickname for the release (I believe they have stopping naming the releases after desserts, but it was fun while it lasted).
With that spirit in mind, I have always hidden things in the home improvement / DIY project. I once found an empty pack of Marlboro cigarettes in the cavity between the basement sill and the first-floor wall. Although it wasn’t a real Easter egg, it was fun to find. Examples of my Easter Eggs are: adding my signature or a picture from the time to the back of crown molding, putting something hidden in the cavity of a wall, or decorating the wall covered with built-in bookcases with decorations and drawings from my girls.
One Easter Egg example, which is very cool, was added to the Harry Potter wizard wands that I made from my lathe for our girls (and many of their friends). I would drill out the middle of the handle, write a little note to the girl who received it, but the note into the hold, and seal it with a piece of wood and glue. Fun stuff!
And so it is here, I am adding an Easter Egg to my table project for the future. I put my name and date on one side and “Covid Pandemic” on the other side. I know that it will most likely never be found, but you never know… Here it is locked in time with a loose tenon and 4 pegs… It is located inside the bottom of the mortice, pretty close to the 3 that is on the top of this picture (the side that is draw-bored and the middle tenon of the 5 tenons on the leaf).
An Easter Egg Found... My own!
The delight for me is to have someone in the future find the Easter Egg and learn something new about our family (an occupant from the past). I am delighted to say that I have found my own Easter eggs from the past. I put one into a built-in bookshelf that I completely forgot about. When I found it, I was completely delighted.
This was a built-in bookcase that I put in the basement in 2002. The top of the bookcase had a cavity between the top of the bookshelf and the top of the inside of the bookshelf. When I built it, I had my daughter Megan write a note to me. It was my birthday and here is what it said, “It is yoar berthday. it is soposto be perfikt. I love you. Love Megan”. See below. I placed it there and completely forgot about it. Later (1/25/2014), while putting a hole in the top to feed a light cord through, I was reaching in to feel around to see where I could put the bottom hole. My hand touched a piece of paper, and I found the Easter Egg. I was so delighted to find Megan’s birthday wish from the past! 🥰 a
I made some updates to put some context around the Easter egg’s history and put it back into the bookcase cavity for someone else to find. Fun Stuff!
My Oldest Easter Egg
From 1982 to 1986, I went to Kalamazoo College. It is a small progressive college in Michigan. I studied Chemistry and spent a lot of time studying on the 3rd floor of Dewing Hall at night. In Dewing Hall, you could “reserve” a study room for yourself (and others) if you hurried up after dinner at Saga (the name of the company that provided the hot meals for students). When you put your books and personal belongings in there, you “officially” had the room for the all-to-often long nights studying. My first cool Easter Egg happened on March 13, 1984, while studying for the final in Organic Chemistry (believe it not, Organic was my favorite Chemistry class!).
Tom Hazel (one of my good friends and my brother’s roommate in our suite) and I were studying for our last final of the quarter, and as you get through the finals and all the preparation required, you ended up studying late into the night and getting pretty giddy. For some reason, Tom and I decided to write with chalk on the table’s underside for posterity. We thought it would be cool to come back as we progressed through each year to see how long it lasted without being rubbed off (since it was chalk). Its says, “John Hoinville 3-13-1984 Last final for now. Tom Hazel“
Over time, I may have checked it a couple of times to see whether it was still there, but we ended up graduating, and life moved on.
As it turns out, I would come to Kalamazoo College for reunions or visit and see the college, since my brother and his wife, Jane, live in Kalamazoo and Jane works at Kalamazoo College now. I would often look for the tables, but after remodels and changes to the 3rd-floor layouts, the tables vanished (most likely to the basement of Dewing or removed).
As it would turn out, my eldest daughter Megan attended K-College in 2014. When she took her first tour of the school as a junior in High School, I told her the story about the crazy Organic finals and how I studied in Dewing late into the night. I told her this story about how Tom and I overstimulated caffeine and crashed from exhaustion and put our names under these tables in Dewing. However, over the years, I could no longer locate the actual tables and the writing. As we looked for them, they were still gone. It would have been a great thing to show her as she toured the campus. I connection between the times, but it wasn’t going to happen. The tables were gone. I assumed that they were sold or given away as being “old” and no longer in vogue or just in storage getting old. Anyway, it was a fun story to share with my daughter as she was entering K and, if we had found them, there might be some faint markings left that would prove my story as actually true.
In 2016, I was celebrating my 30th reunion from graduating in 1986. Could it be true that that much time has gone by? Sadly, the time had passed… During breaks between the reunion celebrations and seeing old friends, Megan and I met and went for a walk on campus to catch up. I always like seeing all of the buildings that shaped so much of my college life and experiences. We stopped by Stetson Chapel and walked around Trowbridge Hall. In Trowbridge Hall, my first room was on a floor called Skid Row. I had a window that looked down the quad and had an inscription above the window that said, “The end of learning is gracious living.” I showed her that plaque and told her how I was the last person to live in that room. After my first quarter at K, the room was part of Trowbridge’s renovation and converted into a steam room as part of the building’s heating.
As we walked, we entered Dewing Hall on the 2nd floor on the building’s west side. Again, I reminded her of the story about writing on the tables as we discussed Organic Chemistry. I asked if she minded if I looked through the Dewing rooms to see whether the tables had emerged from the past? She didn’t mind. We looked through the rooms on the second floor. Nothing. We went to the 3rd floor where the table was originally placed—still nothing. My hopes were dashed…
Moving on, we walked towards the largest room on the floor (Dewing 301??). When I attended K, there was a multi-leveled Formica structure with the level that looked like the Start Trek commanding post in the Enterprise. It was affectionately called the “Star Trek” Room. Time had passed, and the structure was removed. It was still a multi-leveled room to give students a better view in the back, but in the place of the structure were tables !!! OMG, the room was filled with the tables from my past. Would I be able to find my scribblings from the past? Had they been wiped off from years of students fidgeting underneath? I was excited, and my daughter became animated since we could actually see whether they were still there. And they were! We found the scribblings under the first group of tables that we searched.
I was actually amazed to see that they looked untouched over 32 years. A 32-year old easter egg to myself! What fun it was to share that with my daughter after having told her that story for so long. The picture above is from that moment! 🙂
Below is a picture of the plaque…