MORRIS – On any given day of the month, somewhere in Morris, several women from the Morris Community High School graduating class of 1957 can be found at one of their “monthly meetings.”
Since graduation, the group of girlfriends has met once a month, every month, for more than 55 years, making them one of Morris’s oldest unofficial social clubs.
This month’s meeting was special, as the women donned birthday hats and gathered Monday at Lindy Gertie’s in Morris to celebrate their collective 75th birthdays.
“When we started meeting, we were talking about guys and dates. Then later it was marriages and kids. Now, it’s our ailments,” Barb Lindenmuth joked.
When the ladies organized the first meeting, they tried to be official – collecting membership dues, electing a president, taking meeting minutes.
They dubbed themselves the “O.N.O. Club,” meaning “One Night Out,” and tried focusing on socializing and community service.
“I remember one time, we tried to collect old magazines to send to people in India, or somewhere,” remembered Ruth Cheshareck, inciting a chorus of groans and laughter from the others. “But I mean, it just never got off the ground.”
When that failed, they relaxed their rules and made it a monthly card night where they played Rummy Royale and other games.
“Well, we talk so much that we could never finish a game,” Barb Senffner said. “So that ended pretty quickly.”
Eventually the club evolved into a monthly meeting of friends where they would spend as long as four hours eating, sharing stories and cracking jokes.
Throughout the years, women have moved away, or passed away, but a core of about 15 women has remained since that first meeting.
Lindenmuth said she started with the meetings, but moved to California where she stayed for more than 20 years.
“When I came back to Morris and began meeting again, it was like I never left,” she said.
Their secret to staying together this long?
“We just like each other, a lot,” Norma Arnsdorff said.
Husbands and children are not allowed at most meetings, although the women used to hold an annual picnic where they would invite their families.
The group also is in charge of organizing the Morris Community High School class of 1957 reunion every year.
“Without us, there probably wouldn’t be a reunion anymore,” Karen Gore said.
Today, the meetings are part social club, part support group, as many of the women have relied on each other for guidance and love in recent years with husbands passing and health problems.
“When we all get together, we’re like sisters,” Senffner said. “If we have a physical, or a mental or a marriage problem, we’re not afraid to say it because we know it won’t go beyond this group.”
The women said they don’t intend to stop meeting anytime soon and will always remain friends.
“I know a lot of women in their 50s and 60s who have lost their friends as they got older,” Cheshareck said. “I think this is healthy for us. It helps keep us alive.”