Edward (“Eppy”) James stories and unique sayings that are popularly called "Eppygrams"
are legendary among Maryknollers throughout East Africa. Just when you think
you’ve heard them all, someone will say: "I remember Eppy saying…" and a new
round begins. With a lot of help from many other Maryknollers here are some of
the best Eppygrams in their local context or situation.
a. One day in Mwanza, Tanzania he said: "Well, it’s like a chinaman
in a bull shop."
b. Eppy loved to eat and drink. His favorite drink was scotch on
the rocks. He described a "cheap" happy hour that he went to in Mwanza: "All
they had was beer and little cubicles of cheese."
c. While getting a haircut in Mwanza, the barber nicked Eppy’s head
and the cut became infected. The Maryknoll sister nurse advised Eppy to go to
Nairobi to see a doctor who told him he had encephalitis. Eppy shouted with
great excitement: "Doc, I couldn’t have syphilis."
d. After buying a defective part in Mwanza, he said: "I think I’ll
take it back to the store and get a reprobate."
e. After visiting a pregnant woman in the Shinyanga Hospital Eppy
said, "She had to have her Filipino tubes taken out."
f. Referring to a crowd during riots at the Simiyu River in
Tanzania: "They were a real bunch of phonetics."
g. As a Maryknoll Sister with a very beautiful complexion walked by
in front of the Maryknoll Language School in Makoko outside of Musoma Town, Eppy
told a group of onlookers: "She’s got ah…ah… beautiful pallor."
h. On the rough dirt roads in Tanzania: "Those corrugations are like
driving on a wash tub."
i. Describing a good insight: "I used that as a driving board for my
j. Referring to the procure of the Missionaries of Africa in Dar es
Salaam as "once the place of the Sultan’s Harlem."
k. While preparing to go to the United States for Home Leave: "I’m
going to put my car up on wheels."
a. On describing a "good deal" someone got on a new car in Nairobi:
"He got a 12- month quarantine on it."
b. On playing golf in Nairobi: "I hit the ball straight as a dial."
c. While driving in the spectacular and colorful scenery of Nairobi:
"The jack-o-lantern trees are in full bloom."
a. On house protection: "They have bars on the windows as a
detergent against robbers."
b. About a friend who had an eye operation. "He had a Cadillac in
c. In casual conversation: "You have something up your elbow."
d. When asked where a certain person was, Eppy said, "I just heard
his footprints down the hall."
e. One winter, the day after arriving in a cold Buffalo, New York he
said: "I’m going to J.C. Penny’s to buy some turmoil underwear so I won’t freeze
ask where Eppy got his name. It seems that his twin sister found it easier to
say "Eppy" than "Eddie." And so another story begins…
the story of Eppy James is more than these little humorous anecdotes
and quotations. For the special story of Father Eppy James, M.M. is his "last
year of grace." Even today Maryknollers’ eyes well up as they describe Eppy’s
last year in the States. But first a prelude — when Eppy, Mike Pierce and
Sharpie Graser lived and worked together in the Buffalo Development House. All
three were independent-minded Maryknollers with many years of missionary
experience in Tanzania. What a unique triumvirate that was!
Later Eppy got
sick and was diagnosed with a very painful throat cancer. His last year "on
duty" was in the St. Louis Development House. As another Maryknoller from
Tanzania describes it: "Toward the end Eppy got it all together. It was an
incredible story." Eppy cheerfully accepted his cancer and continued development
work like a real trouper. He became especially kind and had almost a spiritual
glow about him. As one Maryknoller said of Eppy’s last year. "God’s grace was
truly at work."