The Evolution of a Lifelong Friendship
Pictured: The 2014 gathering members of the Ten Old Broads
Back Row Left to Right- Sandy, Elaine, and Joan
Front Row Left to Right- Joanne, Pat, Sally, and Kay
They’ve been friends for well over fifty years, but every August they converge at their favorite place on the planet—the Manor House at Cedar Creek. These 10 women, now closing in on 80, have gathered every year since 1999. The long-time friends are: Shirley C., Joan C., Jackie B. (now deceased), Pat M., Liz K., Joanne F., Kay M., Pat H, Elaine S. and Sandy A.
Some of these friendships go back to first grade at St. Peter Grade School in Kirkwood. Others joined in during high school at Eugene Coyle, also in Kirkwood, from 1949-1953. ”I remember the nuns seated us alphabetically and we were in the “H” row, said Joan, recalling freshman year. “I looked over at Sandy and said, ‘Well, if we have to sit together we might as well get to know each other.’” Soon Pat (also an “H”), who was sitting nearby, got into the conversation. Sandy eventually brought in Kay, a friend since first grade, and Kay brought in Sally, her cousin. The rest blended in over the ensuing high school years.
After graduating in 1953, they all went on to pursue careers, marry and have families. Liz kept the group together by hosting annual Christmas luncheons, but it just wasn’t enough time for the women to catch up. So Sandy decided to get the group together for a special three-day gathering. The first year, 1999, just seven were able to come, but it was such fun they decided to meet annually. Although most lived in the St. Louis area then, they eventually came from longer distances—from Texas to Kansas, northern Illinois to Colorado. In time, they called themselves the Ten Old Broads.
Their first gathering provided plenty of time for the group to catch up and also to establish the traditions that carry over to this day. Some of the group likes to play Mexican Train, card games or Trivial Pursuit. Others like to hang out at the pool. Or just talk. They have high praise for the food at Cedar Creek and don’t mind a bit if wine is involved! Although they have visited local sites over the years, they mostly prefer to stay closer to “Home.”
The Manor House is their sanctuary, they all agree. Their annual retreats are documented by a Memory Book (pictured on right). The women come every year for a variety of reasons— the solitude, the surrounding nature, the outdoor activities, and of course, the common roots. Many memories have been made while at Cedar Creek, mostly wonderful ones, like the time Sandy surprised the group with a birthday cake for their mutual 75th birthdays. Or in 2012, when they howled at the full moon after being inspired by Elaine’s story about her grandson howling at the moon with his young friends. And then there was the time they ran into a group of Ursuline nuns, who had booked a retreat in Cedar Lodge. “You can run from the nuns, but you can’t hide!” said Joan, bringing a laugh about their Catholic school years.
However, one of the most profound memories that has stuck with the group was on September 12, 2001, just a day after the attack on the World Trade Towers in New York. Miraculously, all ten showed up. After arriving, the group turned to the Manor House TV to watch the coverage.
“Everyone on the property kept coming over to the Manor House because we had the biggest TV,” Joan recalled. It somehow seemed important for all of them to go to a church to pray, so that’s what they did. “It was an unforgettable day that we all share now,” Sandy said, “but somehow it was comforting to us to be together going through that incredible situation.”
Talents vary from sewing, knitting and crocheting, quilting, crafts, reading, music, painting and writing. Pat, a quilter, particularly enjoys looking at the numerous quilts displayed throughout the property. Elaine, the musician of the group, once brought her harp for a private living room concert. And Joan surprised them one year with a Bollywood dance class on DVD and also demonstrated Tai Chi. She even convinced the ladies to try Hip Hop Abs. Sally’s official duty has been to bring swim tubes for water aerobic sessions, which once led to so much laughter that the Cedar Creek staff came out to investigate.
The Ten Old Broads have dwindled down to nine following the loss of Jackie several years ago and this year, one member is in a rehab facility following a stroke and other complications. Another member is out this year due to family activities. “Every year we say that we hope is isn’t the last year. But then, we ARE all now 78 and 79,” Sandy said.
Ten years, Ten Old Broads, and more memories than can be counted. They truly are a “special vintage group,” as Sally says, smiling.