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Jennie Epla

Contributed by Marilyn Widler

(A Farewell to Mrs. Jennie Epla)

"There are periods in the journey through life when true friendship proves its superiority over all other possessions."

Friday afternoon, February 5, this truth was thoroughly exemplified when about sixty friends of Mrs. J. T. Epla's went to her home west of town and tendered her a farewell surprise. In these days of rapid transit when news travels from tongue to tongue with an unknown velocity, one hardly expects a surprise to prove what it is intended. But this was an effectual instance to the contrary and the surprise was so complete that Mrs. Epla was overwhelmed and did not readily recover. However, she was soon mistress of the situation, and this was the keynote for a good time and everyone joined in the chorus. During the afternoon Mrs. Bertha Taber, at the piano, played some of her choicest music, its beautiful rhythm and soft strains fitting so well into the spirit of the occasion. Mrs. Grace Beemer gave several fine vocal selections, and Mrs. Epla and Mrs. Della Hicks sang beautifully some of the old songs.

Mrs. Epla was requested to give some of her character songs and she graciously responded. Mrs. Jeannette Fleming artistically interpreted two beautiful Spanish dances and for an encore danced one of Gilbert's sprightly movements "Espieleric." Mrs. Fleming was highly complimented on her graceful manner of portraying the intricate steps. Little Miss Jean Adrian followed with a few fancy steps, which she danced in a very winsome way.

Following this attractive program Mrs. Frances Daugherty, in beautiful and touching sentiments, in behalf of the friends, presented "Our Jennie" with a silver Loving Cup, ten inches high, which stands on an ebony pedestal, and bears this inscription, "Presented to Jennie Epla, By the Ladies of Paw Paw, 1915." In making the presentation Mrs. Daugherty spoke as follows:

Friendship is a flower that blooms in all seasons; it may be seen flourishing on the snow capped mountains of northern Russia as well as in the valleys of sunny Italy, everywhere cheering us by its exquisite and indescribable charms. Friendship is the magic word that has brought us here today; we have come to show our appreciation of the friendship of Mrs. Epla. Some who are here have enjoyed this jolly comradeship and friendship for forty years, others of us for a much shorter time; but we are all glad to honor one who has given so much pleasure to others. In thinking of this characteristic of Mrs. Epla we are reminded of some verses of Nixon Waterman's entitled--Service--

"Let's hollow out, beside the way Where men fare to and fro. A spring that all their steps may stay Where cooling waters flow. And then go forth, with more of grace And goodliness in every face. Let's plant a rose beside the road Where all the world goes by, That every pilgrim, with his load, May feast his happy eye Upon its beauty as he goes, And breathe a blessing on the rose. What is true goodness? who shall say? Yet, in his heart one knows That, surely, some of it have they Who plant a wayside rose, Or hollow out a spring whose song Is mellow music all day long." Jennie, you say, you are going away We're sorry indeed that it seems to be true. In fact, we hardly know what to do. Your laughter and song Has cheered us along At many a festive party, And now when we meet And no Jennie to greet Our laughter will not be so hearty. But you say you are just going east Over to Hinckley, which we remember distinctly Will not take you far, at least. So come back to our town As oft as you can Where you've won much renown By your jokes and your song. Now Jennie we've come to bid you adieu And pledge you again our friendship true We pledge it, in this our gift to you A beautiful Loving Cup, silver and gold. It's filled to the brim with good wishes and love So take it, and keep it And whenever you see it You'll think of these ladies Whose friendship is yours.

Mrs. Daugherty cautioned Mrs. Epla that she never allowed any one to talk back to her; however, in a voice full of emotion she said "Thank you," a word so little but full of the warmth of her gratitude. At this time the company was summoned to the dining room, which had been tastily arranged and decorated by the ladies in charge, with large bouquets of carnations and ferns. Mrs. Epla and Mrs. Cale Weeler, a friend of half a century, leading the way. As the company stood Mrs. Wheeler gave a toast "From Girlhood to Grandmother," a reminiscence of their friendship, which began so long ago in Earlville and has continued through all these years that have been filled with mingled sorrow and happiness. Mrs. Epla feelingly responded in her appreciation of the kindness shown her by the friends when she came here to make her home as a young bride and how much she valued the loyal Paw Paw ladies. A delicious three course luncheon was served by the young matrons and maids of the party.

Thus closed an afternoon of pleasure tinged with sadness at the thought of Mrs. Epla's leaving us so soon for her new home in Hinckley. She has lived here since a bride of 18 and has been one of the favorites, always ready to do her part in any undertaking and her home, even in the days of the little old house, has been the scene of many hilarious gatherings "Open house" has been the slogan of this home. As the shadows began to lengthen all reluctantly said goodbye to the Epla home and "Au Revoir" to our genial smiling hostess, the company all voicing the toast of Mrs. Rose Hick "May the ladies of Hinckley fully appreciate what is their gain is Paw Paw's loss."

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