"Oh it's not work it's fun!," says Nellie Burnett in a 1998 interview. "If you like to do something it isn't work!" During that 1998 interview Nellie was about to turn 100 years old. Her love for making these decorative eggs seemed like it would last forever. "We more or less figured grandmother would always live you know," says Grandson Roderick Johnson.
Nellie was born on April 4th, 1901 in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. She's been making eggs since 1933. She married and moved to Tyler.
The ever changing characters she created, from "Big Bird" and "Elmo" to The Rugrats and Spiderman, touched many lives not only in Tyler, but across the nation. "I have the best customers in the world! These girls call me, their mothers used to get eggs for them. This one girl called me this year from California, one from New York, one from Mississippi, one from Georgia and they wants eggs!"
At Nellie's home in Tyler, her grandson says, "Boy she'd get real excited when it got close to Easter time and got ready to open. She was ready to go!" And it was in her Tyler home where Johnson remembers helping his grandmother as a little boy. "She was always working on eggs, and sewing little pants, little hats for the eggs and doing little different things for the eggs."
Today, the table she presented her intricate eggs on sits empty. The family plans to continue the Easter tradition because it's just what Nellie would have wanted. "To me I just think 'Oh these old eggs', I just made them and made them," says Nellie in 1998. "But it always perks me up when they come in and I see their old smiling faces."
Christine Nelson reporting. firstname.lastname@example.org
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