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Around The Grange
Do You Remember: Frank and Peggy Prelli

By Betty Jane Gardiner

  FEBRUARY 18, 2014 --

When we presented this column last July on the subject of the Grange Bicentennial Quilt we told you of the outstanding efforts by then State Master Frank Prelli and his wife, Gertrude to that project as well as other celebration features.  In addition to the quilt they carried on a program to capture small flags around the state but we’re keeping details of that for another column in the future on the subject of attendance projects.

We also mentioned that Frank and Peggy, as she was known by everyone, would be a subject of this article soon.  So now is the time!  When Frank and Peg married they belonged to Granges in Mountain County Pomona.  Frank belonged to Victory Grange No. 189 and Peggy belonged to Riverton Grange No. 169.  They remained in their Granges so I guess it can be said that over the years they did double duty as each served in offices in both Granges.  For a period of time Frank was Selectman in the City of Winsted and during those years he was appointed by National Master Herschel Newsom as Special Assistant to the National Master.  That meant he had an office in the Grange Building in D.C. so the family lived just outside of the Nation’s capital in Virginia.

It couldn’t have been easy doing the new job and keeping up the town and Grange work in Connecticut.... but it was done.  Peg was an excellent Grange secretary among other offices.  Her homemaking skills were the best so she spent much of her time in the Grange kitchen working on the dinners for Grange, Church and Pomona, and of course, the big dinner in conjunction with the Riverton Fair.

Her recipes were famous.  For example, everyone wanted her cole slaw!  The Prelli Insurance office was well known in town and at one time Peggy even had a little dress shop in Winsted.  There are so many things to be said about this very busy couple, for instance how long they both worked as staff members of the Connecticut Granger or the many years he was on the State Grange Executive Committee.  There just isn’t enough time or space to cover it all but there is an episode many years ago at a Grange banquet where a member from Fairfield County area choked and was given the Heimlich maneuver by Frank.  He was quick to give him aid and saved the man’s life.

It should be mentioned, but many of you know, that the three Prelli “kids”, Phil, Gail and Mark (and their families) are carrying on the Grange duties today.  How proud Peg and Frank would have been.

When doing this column we like to tell a few little tales about the individuals that are being featured.  So now it’s Peg and Frank’s turn.  Peg was Master of the Third Degree at Riverton Grange and Phil Prelli and my Bill were Deputies and exchanged inspections of each other’s Granges and we had the pleasure of seeing the Degree work at Riverton many times.  Her degree work was “letter perfect.”  One particular evening will always be remembered.  She was in the middle of the Secret Work instructing a good class of candidates when one of them, a tall lady, who had been very attentive to all of the charges stopped the degree by saying, “Excuse me, what was that word?” (Peg’s facial expression was priceless).  Peg repeated the word and started to continue with the degree when the candidate spoke again, “Would you please spell it?”  Peg drew herself to her full height and loudly and clearly spelled the word and then continued the instructions.  It didn’t throw Peg at all.  We had never seen anything like that before or since in the middle of the degree.  Being a Third Degree Master myself, I never let Peggy forget it and we had many a laugh over our inside joke.

One year when the Lecturer’s Conference was held in New Hampshire the Banquet was on the closing evening, about the hottest night I ever remembered.  It was unbearable!  We thought the evening would never end.  It finally did, and our little group headed out of the hall into the heat of the night.  If I remember correctly, it was Frank who suggested we get the car and drive the short distance from Durham to the New Hampshire coast.  Our little group with Marion and Bud Beecher, Peg and Frank, and Bill and Me.  Away we went.  It was a bit cooler on the shore and the sound of the surf was very inviting.  I’m not sure who went first (we were all wearing our Sunday best!) but before you knew it the fellas had taken off their shoes and socks and had rolled up their trouser legs and were enjoying the cool water.  We gals wanted to join them, but those were the days of nylon stockings and garter belts and ladies couldn’t remove those on a public beach.  We just took off our shoes, lifted our skirts as best we could with nylons and all we danced into the foamy water with Peggy leading the parade.  Thank goodness nobody was around with a camera.  That’s a special memory I have of the Prelli’s.  I guess you can say it was a time when we learned the meaning of the phrase “to frolic!”

Hope you have a special memory of Peg and Frank too!

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