My kids and their cousins belong to an exclusive club with three basic tenets — kindness, generosity and wit — that exemplify its founders.
The Green and Red Pepper Club, “Our membership is always mushrooming,” represented perpetual president Grandpa Vince’s delight with his growing number of grandchildren, whom he called his “pepper pals.” Every year he celebrated both Christmas and his July 28th birthday by sending out dividend checks to the now 13 executive vice presidents.
Corporate Secretary Grandma Mary Jane helped conceive witty letters (playing off the letter “p”) that accompanied the generous checks. So clever were the letters that each grandchild worked hard to put together an equally well-worded thank you note in response.
One year, Grandpa Vince helped them all out by sending two of his favorite books to club members — the older grandchildren received “30 Days to a More Powerful Vocabulary” and the younger ones “The Boy Who Loved Words.”
Fittingly, club activities included word games like Scrabble, along with Charades, Monopoly, Hearts and Sheepshead.
The club developed rapidly with a formal logo that eventually landed on mugs,T-shirts, business stationary and envelopes. Green and red pepper Christmas ornaments, candles, bowls and all manner of pepper paraphernalia found their way into the club headquarters in Naperville, Illinois. In 2008 Molly carved Halloween Green and Red Peppers “Vince O’Lanterns” in honor of her grandfather.
A nasty alliteration Grandpa Vince never would have sanctioned, Malignant Melanoma, cut short the fun in 2008 and might have felled a lesser club. But, thanks to the strength and determined joy of its corporate secretary, the Green and Red Peppers rallied.
Today, Green and Red Peppers have sprouted coast-to-coast with five members graduated from college and out on their own, and the youngest a rambunctious four-year old.
A well-spoken group, they promote prudently the principles patronized so passionately by their perpetual president. In plain pepper-speak, they do their Grandpa proud.