‘Stories of Everlasting Love Tour’

This Valentine’s Day, the Maple Grove Cemetery has a motto: “love never dies.”

Legendary love stories of Maple Grove’s past will be presented at the Maple Grove Center on Saturday, February 12, from 1 to 2:30 p.m., located at 127-15 Kew Gardens Road in Kew Gardens.

The “Stories of Everlasting Love Tour” will be presented by Maple Grove Historian Carl Ballenas. The event is sponsored by Friends of Maple Grove. Admittance is $8 for adults, $5 for seniors. Friends of Maple Grove Members are able to attend for free. To make a reservation, go to [email protected] or call 917-881-3358.

The love stories will be shown in a power-point presentation. The couples are all buried at Maple Grove, according to Ballenas. Many love stories will be rediscovered and are accurate according to the Maple Grove website and archives.

A classic Valentine’s Day tale will be told once again at the center. The classic story of boy meets girl, loses girl and wins girl in the end.

Elisabeth Riis was born in Denmark and came from an aristocratic family. She met Jacob Riis when they were both very young.

When young carpenter Jacob asked for her hand in marriage, he was denied because of his social standing. Broken hearted, Jacob came empty handed to America and held his love for Elisabeth in the core of his heart.

Elisabeth meanwhile became engaged to a much older soldier who met with approval to her parents. When a fatal illness befell this soldier, her parents forbid her to marry him. Defying her parents, she moved out of their home to care for him until he died.

In America, Jacob, now with a name for himself, hearing of the news about Elisabeth’s fiancé’s death, returned to Denmark and proposed a second time to Elisabeth. They were married in Denmark in 1876. Elisabeth was finally his.

Elisabeth and Jacob had many children and they lived together in Richmond Hill. She died in 1905 at the age of 52 and her grave stone at Maple Grove is very modest, with a reclining lamb on the top of it. Jacob called Elisabeth his “Little Lamb.”

Maple Grove will share a love story that might surprise those in attendance. Russian pianists Josef and Rosina Lhevinne fell in love and Rosina decided that she would never want to shadow her husband’s career. Rosina vowed that she would give up her own ambitions to be a concert artist and confine her activities to teaching and performing on two pianos with her husband – a vow she kept until well after her husband’s death in 1944.

Another story that will be presented is that of Martin and Edith Branner. Martin based his famous Winnie Winkle cartoon personality on his wife

Ahead of the times of liberated women, Winnie was "Winnie Winkle, The Breadwinner." His boyhood interest had always been drawing cartoons.

At the age of 18, he eloped with a child actress, 15-year-old Edith Fabbrini. The two later became the dancing team of Martin and Fabbrini.

A love story involving war will also be told.

Jonathan and Mary Coward’s story is one whose love could not be separated even by war. They were childhood sweethearts before the Civil War and were separated during the conflict. They were reunited and married almost 50 years later in 1911.

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