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By the time guards threw open the White House gates at 9 a.m.. a crowd of 500 was waiting to get in. President Eisenhower had revived a local tradition, the Easter Monday egg roll on the White House lawn, started in 1877 by Rutherford Hayes and abandoned twelve years ago by Franklin Roosevelt. The Eisenhowers really didn't know what to expect, but the gardeners began a week in advance preparing for the worst, installing storm fences, comfort stations and drinking fountains.

.At 9:35, David and Barbara Anne Eisenhower, carrying Easter baskets, came outdoors to join the fun. David distributed five souvenir eggs to pleading adults. Between the screaming crowds and the photographers, the Eisenhower kids soon wearied of the show, retreated to the White House.

No one seemed to know what to do at an egg roll. Some bowled eggs across the greensward; others tossed them high in the air with occasional disasters. The aid station was busy with minor cuts and bruises. Most people just pressed against the fence, peering eagerly at the south portico. By noon, the grounds were a dreadful mass of mashed eggs, gooey chocolate marshmallow, melting jelly beans and picnic midden. Most unexpected casualty: a press photographer lost both shoes.

At 11, the President greeted the rollers from the balcony. Then, with his daughter-in-law, David and Barbara Anne, he walked into the midst of the mob. As the people closed in, making retreat impossible, Ike picked up his granddaughter. David was bumped so hard he lost another half-dozen eggs. Ike's retreat was cut off. Finally a flying wedge of Secret Service men led the Eisenhowers out a side gate, back to the White House by way of a side street. Said Ike: "I didn't think the kids would take such a beating."

When it was all over and the last of 30,000 egg rollers had departed in an April drizzle, the gardeners began a cleanup job that may take two weeks. Surveying the mess, Chief Gardener Robert Redmond was philosophic. After all, he said, "egg shell has a certain amount of lime in it."