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Old Chester, PA: Biographical Sketches
Walter (Pete) Chadwick
"BUNNY's HELPER - Since 1902, Walter (Pete) Chadwick, of Upland, has has been doodling on Easter eggs for Deakyne Bros., 3rd and Parker sts. Not a decorated egg has left the shop in over 40 years that hasn't been the handiwork of Chadwick. In his career, the veteran candy artist estimates he's decorated close to a million eggs."
TImes staff photograph courtesy of
Chester Times, Tuesday March 15, 1949
Spins Magic Webs Making Dreams Out of
Just a Santa Claus helper three months late - that's Walter "Captain Pete" Chadwick, of Upland, who has decorated almost a million Easter eggs during his 45 years in the business.
It was just a few months after the assassination of President McKinley in 1901 that Chadwick decorated the first egg for Deakyne Bros. at 3d and Parker sts.
Every Easter season since, Chadwick has returned to the little store on the corner to put his touch to the vari-colored trimmings.
Each year Chadwick, now 65, decorates about 20,000 eggs from the size of an ink bottle to the size of a football.
Figures his work in tons
But Chadwick doesn't measure his output in numbers. Rather, he gauges his tonnage. Yes, tonnage. He guesses he decorates between eight and 12 tons of eggs each year.
Though Chadwick's artistic icing has been standardized in recent years, he remembers well the days when each egg was an order unto itself.
"The biggest trouble," he recalled, "was trying to get 'Grandmother' on a five-cent egg."
Bill Harkins, now manager of the store but who worked in the upstairs processing rooms for 18 years, used to help Chadwick out in the early days.
Put Milkman to flight
"One time we worked all night," Chadwick said, "me and Bill. Early in the morning we heard the milkman out in the street and Bill ran out to get a bottle of milk. Bill's apron flying in the semi-dawn must have made the milkman think he was seeing a ghost, because he sure did run down the street!"
It was the Deakyne Brothers, David W. and Dean J. who introduced Chadwick to the job he who operates it today.
When David died, after Dean had sold out to him, control of the business went to David's son, Harry. When Harry died Jan. 7, 1947, the business was taken over by his widow, Mrs. Ethel Deakyne, who operates the business today.
But down through the years, Chadwick has continued at his little table in the rear of the store doing what the Easter Bunny forgot to do.
One Minute Egg
It takes Chadwick only a little more than a minute to transform a one-pound chocolate-covered cocoanut egg into a candy delight.
Chadwick must have been born to the job because it only took him a day to pick up the knack.
His first day on the job, back in 1902, he was given a glass egg on which to practice. The next day he started in on the real McCoy.
Decorating Easter eggs is only a seasonal job - but Chadwick has been fortunate all his life in having jobs that allow him to make with the trimmings before every Easter.
Comes Back from Florida
One year he was working on a dredge down in Tampa, Fla. and he thought perhaps it would prevent him from getting back to Chester in time.
But the job finished up surprisingly quick - and Chadwick hustled back to his nook at the Deakyne store.
The only interruption in Chadwick's years of service came during World War II. Joking about the shortages at the time, Chadwick says:
"Harry came out to my place one Easter during the war and said, "Well Chad, just 10 more things off the shortage list and we'll be able to make a few."
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© 2002 John A. Bullock III.
This page last updated 10/17/05