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Pansies are for thoughts, and for remembrance

There were pansies on the table at last week’s tea at Elk Point Municipal Library, as there has been virtually every May for decades.

There were pansies on the table at last week’s tea at Elk Point Municipal Library, as there has been virtually every May for decades. The May tea at the library was originally hosted by the Elk Point Order of the Royal Purple, right around Mother’s Day, and there were always pansies, the flower of the OORP, on the tables.

Elk Point has been without a Royal Purple lodge for four years now, having relinquished the lodge’s charter in December 2019, just months before the COVID pandemic, but once restrictions would again allow the tea to resume, the May tea, held in Royal Purple Week, included the same features as those Mother’s Day teas, including bone china teacups and pansies on the table.

William Shakespeare in his long-ago play, ‘Hamlet’ stated that ‘Pansies are for thoughts,’ those thoughts traditionally of remembrance and nostalgia.

As a member of the Royal Purple for 40 years before the Elk Point lodge breathed its last faltering breath, I have many memories of those years and the many events and activities our lodge was part of during those years.

I was the historian for some of those years, and as well as the photos housed in albums now tucked away in the lodge’s file cabinet in the Elks Lodge’s storeroom, there were a couple from the lodge’s 25th anniversary that I found while weeding out old bills and greeting cards from a long forgotten box in a closet. It was fairly easy to put names to those in the photo of the members who received their 25-year pins that day in 1986, but the second photo of a larger group took me a while to fill in the ‘who’s who?’

That is no wonder, when I checked out the Royal Purple’s story in Elk Point Reflections and learned that when the lodge was established in 1961, there were 35 charter members. More were soon added to the membership, and the thriving lodge planned projects ranging from presentations of a layette to each year’s New Year’s baby and a scholarship to an F. G. Miller High School student to helping the Brother Elks build their community hall.

Once that hall became a reality, the Royal Purple catered banquets for countless weddings, as well as for many other events, and when the Elks started running weekly bingos, they were there behind the coffee bar to support them.

The membership was large and enthusiastic when I joined the OORP in 1979, encouraged to do so by a friend whose husband, like mine, was an Elks member. I had no idea at that time what the organization was all about, but soon joined in all the activities, from bonspiels and funspiels to district meetings in communities near and far and the joint installation events for Elks and Royal Purple, as well as helping out with the banquet catering and coffee serving, as well as the annual Mother’s Day Tea, where we all brought goodies and some of our best china to treat the ladies of Elk Point and district.

Through the years – some of those when I missed most of the meetings because I was now reporting on town council meetings on the nights of Royal Purple meetings – I served for a time on the executive as the historian, enjoying adding photos of the many events to the bulging albums of activities collected over the years. I never considered being one of the officers, except for pro tem at a meeting when an officer was absent, until suddenly I was recruited to be the Honored Royal Lady – definitely a steep learning curve that saw me presiding over a dwindling membership as age and illness claimed member after member. It was a sad day when our lodge made the reluctant decision to surrender our charter.

Last Tuesday, I was very pleased to see two of the ladies from our lodge’s final year, Brenda Diesel and Past Honored Royal Lady Lillian Ewasiuk, in attendance, along with two of the charter members – the lodge’s first historian Donna (Aarbo) Fedorus and Lyn Young, and to send each of them home with one of this year’s pansies, in remembrance of good times with the OORP.

About the Author: Vicki Brooker

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