Eleanor Egg, bronze plaque by Gaetano Federici, Paterson Museum, Paterson, NJ
Last week I went to the Paterson Museum, Paterson, NJ, to see this marvelous bronze relief by Gaetano Federici, “In honor of Eleanor Egg, Champion of America.” It was commissioned in 1931 after she defeated champion Polish sprinter, Stella Walsh, in the 100-yard dash at a meet in Jersey City, NJ. Known as “Iron Girl,” Eleanor Egg, competed in the broad jump, setting a world record in 1927; the 100-yard dash; and the shot put. She won approximately 227 medals, 22 silver cups, 6 trophies. An injury prevented her from competing in the 1932 Olympics. “So, I missed the best chance that I ever had,” Egg recalled. “I’ll never know what I might have done. The large plaque was placed on Paterson’s Hinchcliffe Stadium, until the stadium was abandoned, then placed in storage. Happily it is now on display!
Born in 1909, Eleanor Egg joined her parents’ acrobatics act, she said, “when I was 1 year, 7 months, and I was billed all over … as the smallest acrobat in the country.” When she was eight years old, her parents quite show business and moved to Paterson, where she out-raced her classmates, including her school’s sprint champion, a boy. Her parents cheered her on, particularly her mother, Caroline who once entered a race with Eleanor. Noticing that two Eggs were entered in the 800-meter race, a reporter asked Eleanor if it was her sister.
“Why, that’s not my sister, that’s my mother,” she replied.
When the reporter asked Caroline Egg, who was almost forty years old, if it was hard for her to run 800-meters (one half mile), she said, “Why I’ve run miles and miles.”