Haroldine Hicks, Betty Seibel, and Lucy Shepler, longtime members of Peabody American Legion Auxiliary, sat together Friday morning in the community room of Indian Guide Terrace where all three women live.
Hicks’s daughter, Sherri Bowlby, asked them to be there at 9 a.m., and the women dutifully complied.
“None of us were told why we were meeting there,” Shepler said. “But as we were waiting, I just thought, ‘I bet it has something to do with the Auxiliary.’ I didn’t say anything to the others, but that’s what I thought.”
The women were surprised with “Singing Valentines” presented by Peabody-Burns High School students who participate in the choral group, Voices. Each woman also was presented with a red rose.
Shepler’s suspicions about the Auxiliary being involved were correct.
“We wanted to do something to honor them for their years of service and we thought this would be a good way to support a school group as well,” Auxiliary past president Myrna Wood said.
The surprise apparently got the desired response from the honorees.
“Oh, the kids were very good,” Hicks said. “Just so good and we really enjoyed it.”
Seibel was pleased to have her great-granddaughter, Breanna Lett, as a member of the group that performed for the women.
“They sang three or four songs,” she said. “My, they were good and we enjoyed them so much.”
Hicks has been an Auxiliary member since 2002, and Shepler is a life-long member who joined the current Auxiliary group in 1992, as did Seibel. Hicks’s husband Ralph served in the Navy right after World War II, Shepler’s husband Lloyd was in the Army and fought in WWII, and Seibel’s husband Vic also served during WWII in the Army Air Corps. The women all have been active in different facets of Auxiliary service.
“Their health prevents them from coming to every meeting,” Wood said. “But they’ve all helped with meals for families of veterans after funerals, worked on membership drives, poppy sales, and putting poppies on the veterans’ white wooden crosses before Memorial Day each year.”
The women remember their service a bit differently.
“You know, I was active in the organization, but I can’t remember all the projects and activities,” Hicks said. “Nothing sticks out, but I think we just jumped in and did what needed to be done.”
Shepler credited Wood with creating a more active service environment. “Myrna was really good,” she said. “When she became president we did more and more. We still try to help when we can.”
Seibel remembered some of the social activities of the early years when the Legion Hall was the former Butler building at the corner of Sycamore and Second streets.
“The war was over and we had a good group of friends who belonged and we all had lots of fun,” she said. “We had dances and parties. We were young, it was a great time. Sadly, I think I’m about the only one left.”
“It is an honor for us to honor them, even if it is not with a brass band and huge parade,” said Wood. “They have done it all over the years and it is our privilege to have served in the Auxiliary with them.”