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LET'S THROW EGGS AT THE OLYMPICS

A worldwide sporting activity sadly overlooked in Athens is long-distance egg throwing. Every four years, world athletics and swimming records are broken, but the egg-throwing record has survived for more than a quarter-century. We'd like to see this bizarre sport included in future Olympic Games.

The world record was established on November 12, 1978, in Jewett, Texas, when Johnie Dell Foley threw a fresh cackleberry the almost incredible distance of 323ft 2in (98.51m) to his cousin, Keith Thomas, who caught it flawlessly. Many of the other catchers no doubt finished with egg on their faces.

After checking out Johnie's performance with the Guinness Book of World Records, we searched the internet for further details. Jewett (population 668) is described as "a small agricultural based community in the rolling hills of East Texas approximately half-way between Dallas and Houston."

A local website, jewett-texas.com, says the town is "home of the oldest continually operating newspaper in Texas, birthplace of Jack Adkisson (Fritz Von Eric) and blues singer Alger 'Texas' Alexander, and the first town in the United States to have an all-female government." Not a word about its greatest claim to fame.

We found this entry on the Texas Press Association's website:

Johnie Dell Foley, a sports writer and columnist for the Jewett Messenger for many years, accepted a full-time job teaching and coaching at Leon Junior High. He had worked 17 years at the Texas Department of Corrections where he was recreation department supervisor.
After discovering that Johnie is now a member of Jewett City Council (which, like Sydney, has a female mayor) we sent an email to the Chamber of Commerce, seeking his address. To our delight, we received this reply from the great egg-hurler himself:
Greetings from Jewett, Texas... My name is Johnie Dell Foley, and I was that egg thrower that day in 1978. I still live in Jewett, and was pleasantly surprised to hear from someone interested in our feat.

Keith Thomas is a cousin of mine and now lives in Normangee, Texas, about 20 miles away. We are both alive and well. As far as I know, no one has beat our record yet, although it has not been listed in the Guinness Book of World Records since 2000.

We googled "Keith Thomas" and found this entry:
Silently weaving its way -
Through tapestries in meadows green
Beneath the egg yolked sky.
By an amazing coincidence, those very appropriate lines were written not by Keith Thomas of Texas, but by another Keith Thomas, an English poet.

EGG DROPPED 700FT WITHOUT BREAKING

The greatest height from which fresh eggs have been dropped to earth and remained intact is 213 m (700 ft). This was achieved by David Donoghue from a helicopter on August 22, 1994. David threw the eggs onto a golf course in Blackpool, Lancashire, UK. Getting the physics right is a vital part of the record. "You have to get the forward velocity equal to the downward velocity, then get the egg to land nearly perpendicular on a steep slope," says David.
-
Guinness World Records.

Egg throwers around the world have tried in vain to break Johnie's remarkable record. Thousands of eggs (aka oeufs, Eier, uova, huevos, googies, henfruit etc.), have been thrown and sometimes caught, in a dozen countries. Here are a few recent reports:

  • RIGA, Latvia - What most of the year looks like a humble and scarcely inhabited little town will transform itself into a circus of cucumber rolling, egg throwing and inexplicably costumed Kuldiga fanatics during the Dzires Kuldiga festival ...
    But it's the final two days of festivities that reveal the true character of Kuldiga's residents. Beginning with crocodile fishing in one of the city's ponds, the day continues with a cucumber picking frenzy, followed by a cucumber rolling race, egg throwing contest and taffy pulling war... Regardless of how talented you may be at egg throwing, it's most likely the only chance you'll get to satisfy that inner burning desire for organic vandalism.
    - The Baltic Times.

 

  • PRAGUE, Czech Republic - Among the Prague sights that tourists love most is the Old Town Square. At Easter it is especially colorful - resounding with Easter music, crowded with stalls and the site of numerous contests. Strong-man, egg-throwing and pancake contests, among others.
    The tourists love a challenge and a group of Italians could not resist the egg throwing competition. A carton of 35 eggs was to be moved by air - thrown one by one across eight meters from one player to another whose task it was to catch them unbroken and place them in the empty carton next to him. The record was 58 seconds and no egg lost. Well, the group of young Italians gave it their best shot - they didn't break the record but they had a lot of fun trying -and a lot of egg all over them....
    - Radio Prague

 

  • ORMSKIRK, Lancashire, England - There will be an attempt at the Guinness Book of Records World Egg Throwing record at Ormskirk Cricket Club on Monday 5th May 2003.
    - Omskirk Cricket Club.

 

  • EGHAM (of course), Surrey, England - The Big Breakfast [TV show] came here to try and break the world egg throwing record in January 2000 as well.
    - Knowwhere.co.uk

 

  • BATH, Somerset, England - Police in Bath say an egg-throwing crime spree is getting out of control. A group of tap dancers are the latest victims of egg attacks in the city. Police are asking local shopkeepers to watch out for people who bulk-buy eggs.
    - Susannassoapbox.com

 

  • TOWNSVILLE, Australia - Federal independent MP Bob Katter has been accused of a political stunt by confessing to throwing eggs at The Beatles 40 years ago.
    - Townsville Bulletin.

 

  • MONTGOMERY, New Jersey, US. - Egg-cidents have been popping up around the township on nearly a weekly basis for the past few months. In most towns, it happens only during Halloween or on a rare night. But in Montgomery, it has become a weekly event. A Montgomery resident reports that an unknown individual or individuals has thrown eggs at her residence, car or person.
    - The Princton Packet.

 

  • FRANCE and ENGLAND - The game of egg rolling came from France. Eggs were rolled down a hill, and the egg that reached the bottom most unscathed was the winning egg and would bring the owner good luck throughout the year. .. In Medieval Europe, there is an egg war documented between the bishop and dean of Chester, the English congregation, and the choir assembled for Easter services. It is reported that somewhere in the middle of the mass, someone threw an egg. Everyone else was prepared, and a huge egg fight followed. It took several weeks to sweep all the eggshells out of the church.
    - MyBackyardcom.
     
Links

A ball travels further than an egg! Compare the distances by reading our earlier story, The World's Best Ball Throwers.

 

Story first posted September 2004

Copyright 2004

Eric Shackle

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