The Western Pocono Women's Club (WPWC) celebrated its 40th anniversary with a gala event on Saturday, Sept. 24 at the Chestnuthill Township Park Building, transformed into a delightful Tea Room.
The ladies served their guests tea and sandwiches. Some looked elegant in Victorian attire and many wore hats. It could have been a scene from many years ago when a lady never left the house without wearing a hat.
Greta Weaver, mistress of ceremonies and co-chair of the WPCL 40th Anniversary Celebration English Tea, welcomed everyone to the celebration of a group of women who make a difference in the West End.
"When I joined the club two years ago, I was amazed at the energy and willingness that this group of women has to help others. That is why I stand here today."
That "energy and willingness" of the ladies to help their community has extended to almost every charitable organization, school, fire company, personal care and nursing home in the West End and Monroe County. It has been a strong supporter of the Western Pocono Community Library and gives scholarships to graduating Pleasant Valley seniors, sponsors a sophomore each year to attend HOBY (Hugh O'Brian Youth Leadership camp) and urges members to be politically active.
WPWC is an affiliate of the General Federation of Women's Club (GFWC). WPWC president Vicki Conner gave a brief history on how the General Federation of Women's Clubs came into existence.
"In 1890, Jane Cunningham Croly, a newspaperwoman who wrote under the pen name of 'Jennie June,' extended an invitation to women's clubs throughout the U. S. to join together to fight ignorance, injustice and inequality. Her determination inspired more than 60 clubs from across the nation to meet in New York to form the General Federation of Women's Clubs. Since that day, GFWC members have honored her legacy by continuing her vision of improving lives through volunteer service.
"Forty years ago, the West End Junior Women's Club was formed from the efforts of 24 women who wanted to make a difference in their community and believed that the legacy of Jennie June be extended to the West End."
She then named all 24 original chartered members: Melanie Beers, Barbara Bergen, Nancy Butler, Donna Coleman, Linda Costenbader, Joan Eckhart, Mary Eckman, Barbara Everett, Nancy Everett, Carrollee Fenner, Ann Gould, Jane Heckman, Pat Held, Liz Hurley, Lonnie Kibler, Nadine Kleintop, Sharon Kresge, Pat Krome, Donna Mackes, Pat Mackes, Dottie Sawyer, Vickie Sheldon, Leona Smtih, and Yolanda Starner.
Four charter members, Krome, Coleman, Sawyer and Mackes, were honored as active members of WPWC for all 40 years. They received a certificate of recognition and hand-crocheted doilies made by Isabel Peitri and Bobbie Fisher.
Each of the gals were challenged to try to remember one WPWC memory and tell it in one minute.
Pat Krome's memory was of the Bunny Luncheons the club hosted each year. "My son Steve use to fill enough balloons with air to fill a school bus and I remember working with Joan Eckhart on our first International Night. We had so much fun."
Donna Coleman's best memories were of the Bike Hikes the club held for the United Way. "We'd get a lot of our elected officials to participate and we had so much fun working on our committees."
Dottie Sawyer said she'd always remember the time she volunteered at the club's thrift shop, the This and That Shop, when it was in a restored chicken coop located on Mt. View Rd. Her young daughter dipped a pretzel in rat poison and ate it. Dottie had to leave the shop to take her daughter to the doctor. He prescribed taking some Vitamin K and assured Dottie she would be all right.
Pat Mackes added, "She didn't tell you that she then hurried back to her duties at the This and That Shop. That's how dedicated she is."
Pat's one minute went a little over the limit as she related how the late WPWC member Leona Smith arrived at the shop and to her horror, found a dead body. Evidently a homeless man had entered the shop during the night and passed away. Pat also reminisced about the friendships she has made through the club and all the fun the ladies have had, especially during the week of the West End Fair in their strawberry shortcake stand.
"I looked at my archive book and saw that at one time there were eight GFWC Women's Clubs in our county. We use to have a Christmas tree contest with the eight clubs held at Wycoff's and voted on the the best."
Ann Gould, who was the club's first president, also received special recognition and a doily.
Sally Anthony, Linda Bryfogle, Brenda Dorshimer and Kay Faust were recognized as members of the club for the last 35 years. Guest speaker, Pam Hubbard of Effort, formerly of England, is an avid gardner and tea drinker. She graciously explained what an English tea is and how it all came about.
According to legend, tea was first discovered by the Chinese emperor and inventor Shennong in 2737 BC. It is said that the emperor liked his drinking water boiled before he drank it so it would be clean. One day a servant began boiling water for him to drink, and a leaf from a wild camomile tea bush fell into the water. It turned a brownish color, but it was unnoticed and presented to the emperor anyway. The emperor drank it and found it very refreshing, and cha (tea) came into being.
It made its introduction to England in the early 1600s and was enjoyed only by the aristocrats. By the 1800s, it became popular and affordable for all classes.
High Tea is a working class meal served on a high table at the end of the workday, shortly after 5 p.m. so the working man could get to bed before dark. It was a heavy meal of meat dishes such as steak and kidney pie, fish dishes such as pickled salmon, baked goods like crumpets, vegetables such as potatoes or onion cakes and other heavy foods such as baked beans and cheesy casseroles. Pam says it still occurs in England today.
"It's dinner here in the U.S.," she said.
"An Afternoon Tea is a very delicate, elegant affair. It's goal is one of relaxation," said Pam.
It supposedly began by the Duchess of Bedford in the mid 1800s. Around this time, gas or oil light was introduced in wealthier homes, and eating a late dinner (around 8 or 9 p.m.) became fashionable. At the time, there were only two meals each day, a mid-morning, breakfast-like meal and the other was an increasingly late dinner-like meal.The story goes that the Duchess found herself with a "sinking feeling" (likely fatigue from hunger during the long wait between meals) and decided to have some friends over for assorted snacks and tea (a very fashionable drink at the time). Later it spread beyond the highest elites and became more accessible for some other socioeconomic groups.
"The traditional Afternoon Tea is served formally with everything matching. It has three courses. The first is of tea sandwiches, the second with scones served with clotted cream and jam and the third is sweets. You ladies are to be congratulated. You have done almost everything just right with your tea today and it's nice to have a little bit of home. And to think it all started with a little camomile tea leaf," said Pam.
The club received several certificates of special recognition for 40 years of distinguished service to the community and the nation. They were from:
*Carlene A. Garner, GFWC International President (not present). In a note that accompanied the certificate, she wrote, "What a noteworthy milestone this is! Your collective efforts contribute to GFWC's proud tradition of achievement and will ensure the continuation of that legacy into the future."
*Carolyn A. Selders, president of the Pennsylvania GFWC (not present)
*Carolyn Smith, GFWC Northeastern PA District Director
*Monroe County Federated Women's Club President Judy Grace and Vice President Diane Lake (not present but they asked Andrea Hauch of the Pocono Mountain Women's Club to extend their regrets). "You have made a difference," said Hauch. "The care and committment of your members over the years is the strength that has made your club survive."
WPWC president Vicki Connor researched the minutes from the club's first nine years and shared some of those memories with the guests.
*The club was formed on Nov. 23, 1970, and the original name was West End Junior Women's Club. It changed to Western Pocono Junior Women's Club, January 1971. It became federated on Nov. 18, 1971, and its name changed to Western Pocono Women's Club in July 1976.
*The Club motto -"When you give of yourself, you truly give." Club flower - field daisy. Club colors - yellow and white. All were established and voted on in 1977.
*Club dues were $5 a year.
*Began renting a stand at the West End Fair in 1974 serving hoagies ($.75) and cold drinks ($.08). Voted NOT to sell hoagies the following year. New menu for 1975 was soup, roast beef sandwiches and strawberry shortcake, a winning combination still being served today.
WPWC was pleased to have as special guests: Monroe County Commissioners Suzanne McCool, chairman, and Teresa Merli, vice chairman; Mimi Mikels, director of Meals on Wheels; Eloise Laubach, director of Pleasant Valley Ecumenical Network; and Robin Fisher, pastor of Effort United Methodist Church.
Former member Lorraine Kazik of Lehighton enjoyed the event very much. "I think it's fantastic. It couldn't have been any nicer and the company was great."
Gail Burney Malocheski, a former member said "It's so nice to come back and see the ladies I knew from long ago and to help them celebrate all the many accomplishments of the Women's Club."
Carolyn Smith, GFWC Northeastern PA District Director added that it was a lovely affair and "the sandwiches are delicious and the desserts are scrumptious."
Former WPWC member and past president Connie Johnson thought everything was "Fabulous!"
"It is just lovely. Beautifully done. It's nice for the members to sit back and enjoy being pampered. I especially like seeing all the ladies in their hats," said Joan Eckhart, another former member.
The WPWC is made up of women from all walks of life. The one thing they all have in common is they are dedicated volunteers trying to make a difference in their community. The Club's Collect, which is spoken every time the ladies meet, reflects their philosophy: "Keep us, O God, from pettiness; let us be large in thought, in word, in deed. Let us be done with fault-finding and leave of self-seeking. May we put away all pretense and meet each other face to face, without self-pity and without prejudice. May we never be hasty in judgment and always generous. Let us take time for all things; make us to grow calm, serene and gentle. Teach us to put into action our better impulses, straightforward and unafraid. Grant that we may realize it is the little things that create differences, that in the big things of life we are at one. And may we strive to touch and to know the great common human heart of us all; And O Lord God, let us forget not to be kind." (Mary Stewart)