WHITE HOUSE EASTER EGG ROLL 1878-1998
Commemorative poster sponsored by The Schnurmacher Foundations, produced from an original watercolor painting by Susan Loy, printed by Bison Printing, Bedford, Virginia. Copyright CSL Press for Calligraphy by Susan Loy, Inc.
Print Image Size: 14" x 14"
When 1998 White House Easter Egg Roll Artist-on-the-Lawn Susan Loy was asked about her impressions of the event, she replied, "A sense of history and of beauty. The Easter Egg Roll is one of the White House's oldest traditions, and as I viewed the luminous yellow tulips that bloomed around the fountain and along the south portico, I wondered if tulips always bloomed during this beautiful garden party?" She later learned more of the history of the festival as well as of the grounds and flowers that bloomed there.
In the poster, she used flowers to represent the beauty of the occasion, painting historic varieties that probably bloomed more than a century ago as well as varieties that bloomed in 1998. The outer borders of the painting combine calligraphed texts with a delicate design based on a nineteenth-century wrought-iron White House railing, graced with wisteria vines. Susan calligraphed the border texts to create the texture of the smooth lawns of the south grounds. With the help of C.L. Arbelbide, author of The White House Easter Egg Roll, she organized the 120-year history of the event, dividing it into four thirty-year periods, and including a quotation about the festivities from First Ladies of each time period, including Edith Kermit Roosevelt, Edith Bolling Wilson, Eleanor Roosevelt, and Hillary Rodham Clinton.
After Congress passes a law banning egg rolling on the Capitol grounds in 1876, President and Mrs. Hayes give the Easter egg roll an official home on the White House Lawn in 1878. In 1889, President Benjamin Harrison requests "The President's Own," Marine Band to play at the egg roll, with John Philip Sousa directing; children sail egg-shell boats in the fountain. President Theodore and Mrs. Roosevelt host the event, which Mrs. Roosevelt notes in her diary, "The garden was full all the morning of children & people who come for the egg rolling," Edith Kermit Roosevelt, April 4, 1904."
"The next events that stand out were Easter, and the egg-rolling in the White House grounds on Easter Monday. All the families of the Cabinet were invited, and many friends with their children. It is really an unusual sight -- the thousands of youngsters, white and black, all with gaily coloured baskets filled with eggs and rabbits; all moving towards the south portico where the President came to greet them, and where we stood for many minutes watching the kaleidoscope of colour." Edith Bolling Wilson, April 21, 1916, My Memoir. Canceled in 1917, because of WW I, President and Mrs. Harding resume the event in 1921."
President Franklin and Mrs. Roosevelt host the event until World War II intervenes in 1942. "The average attendance at the Easter Egg Rolling was 53,108. The record shows that 180 children were lost and found; two people were sent to the emergency hospital; six people fainted and twenty-two had to be treated for small abrasions. At the end of the day after the Easter Egg Rolling the grounds were really a shambles but, thanks to the men who took care of them, by nine o'clock the next morning they were as neat and tidy and beautiful as ever," Eleanor Roosevelt, This I Remember. President and Mrs. Eisenhower resume the Egg Roll in 1953."
"First Ladies Mrs. Nixon, Mrs. Ford, Mrs. Carter, Mrs. Reagan, and Mrs. Bush add egg-rolling races, spoons from the White House kitchen, Ukrainian egg-decorating demonstrations, souvenir eggs, egg hunts, and Easter cards to the festivities. Mrs. Clinton expands the egg roll to the Ellipse in 1993, and to cyberspace in 1998, when President and Mrs. Clinton host the 120th anniversary of the Egg Roll. "This colorful festival, created by children, found its way to the White House in 1878, and is one of the oldest traditions of this grand old home of Presidents." Hillary Rodham Clinton, The White House Easter Egg Roll."
For the central bouquet, Susan painted tulips, hyacinths, and daisies because the record shows that they bloomed during the early years of the Easter Egg Roll. With the help of Irvin Martin Williams, Superintendent of Grounds for The White House, she identified the varieties that probably bloomed during early and most recent Easter Egg Rolls. The tulip that probably bloomed on the White House grounds a century ago was Couleur Cardinal, a deep red, Single Early tulip. The luminous yellow tulips that bloomed in 1998 were Golden Oxfords. Hyacinths that bloomed a century ago probably included single and double varieties of Hyacinthus orientalis, the common hyacinth, and possibly a rare double hyacinth, General Kohler. Blue Grape Hyacinths, of the genus Muscari, were used in the border around the fountain in 1998. The daisy is the children's flower, and she painted the old-fashioned Bellis perennis to represent the children who created the festival and who continue to be its focus.
Susan calligraphed three historical newspaper accounts of the Easter Egg Roll to surround the bouquet:
"The eminences and smooth lawns of the grounds were emerald clad and daisy decked. In every direction the eye was caught by the tender spring bushes of blossoming nature, gleaming here and there from parterres of hyacinths, tulips and a bewildering variety of other bulbous beauties, and again from the bud-laden boughs of trees and shrubs." The Evening Star, Monday, April 11, 1898
"... the occasion was not without beauty, for the trees and shrubs were out in their greens. A single cherry tree was alive with color; magnolias were in a profusion of blooms, and along the iron rails leading from the south portico to the ground, honeysuckle appeared almost ready to bloom." The Evening Star, Monday, April 1, 1929
"Yellow and white tulips, bordered by white pansies, ringed the fountain, and camellias, azaleas and dogwood bloomed." Associated Press, Monday, April 1968
"It was a great day for an egg roll... the pink magnolias were in full bloom, and the grass was a brilliant green." The Washington Post, April 5, 1983
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