Saturday, June 29th, 2013
By Margie Wuebker
Forever friends
Girls Club still getting together after 70 plus years
  Their steps have slowed, their joints now creak and their hair has turned gray or silver, but the girls wouldn't think about canceling monthly gatherings.
"We've been doing things together since school days ... why on earth would we want to stop after only 70-plus years?" Norma Shaffer said with a broad smile.
The Girls Club - known in bygone times as the '49ers - is comprised of Jo Shaffer, Carol Woodworth, Jane Frysinger, Phyllis Nash, Ruth Kittle, Joanne Hammond, Norma Shaffer and Lorna Now, all 1949 graduates of Celina High School.
Fellow members Rosie Riesen, Doris Brandts and Kody Erl Bollenbacher have passed away, and Helen Robbins now lives in California.
All members were born in 1931, but they are quick to point out Hammond is the oldest and Frysinger is the youngest.
"There is no use trying to put on airs around here because we all know better," Jo Shaffer said. "As for secrets, well you can forget about those entirely."
Members hung out together during high school when they were cheerleaders, band members and club participants. After graduation, some headed off to college while others joined the workforce.
Following years brought wedding showers and baby showers. After giving birth to her daughter Laurie, Now proposed regular meetings.
"I thought Laurie would be the last baby and we needed to get together on a regular basis," she said. "Several stragglers came along later."
The girls made sure their little ones were tucked into bed and fast asleep before they donned colorful house dresses and headed to gatherings the fourth Wednesday of the month.
Nash recorded brief accounts of each meeting in spiral-bound notebooks beginning with the first official one in January 1961.
Members brought along mending, ironing, crocheting and knitting to work while they gabbed. Other activities included giving permanents, piercing ears, marking hems, exchanging recipes and putting together 1,000-piece jigsaw puzzles. Kittle remembers stitching "fancy doodads" on a wedding gown one night.
"We tried playing cards but it didn't turn out so well," Jo Shaffer said as her fellow members nodded in agreement. "It is hard to keep track of what's trump and who dealt last in the midst of an interesting conversation."
Monthly gatherings used to go on until the wee hours of the morning, like the time they huddled around a television to watch the long-haired, guitar-strumming Tiny Tim marry his beloved Miss Vickie on the Johnny Carson Show. The group deciding the whole thing was disgusting.
"Now we meet at noon because none of us like to drive at night," Hammond said. "If we go any earlier it will be breakfast time."
Meals also changed, with desserts, chips and sugared nuts replacing heavier fare.
"We used to eat before, during and after meals," Nash said. "We still like to munch but not as much, in the interest of our waistlines and cholesterol levels."
The gatherings became welcome therapy as children weathered illnesses, disappointments and gradually left the nest. One by one they have helped each other deal with the loss of their respective spouses.
"We have laughed more than we have cried over the years," Now said. "We're closer than sisters because we choose to be together until the very end."
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