Monthly Archives: November 2014

1964 – A Year That Changed Lives

Fifty years of friendship all based on a secret. It’s unbelievable and shocking. I was stunned when I found out. For fifty years, they had all been living with a secret.

In 1964, eight male industrial arts teachers at the new Marion High School in Marion, IN and their wives formed a friendship because of this secret.

…What was the secret you wish to know?

It wasn’t just any old secret it was THE secret…

… The secret to friendship.

These friends weren’t just two best friends that had grown up together or neighbors who lived side-by-side on a cul-de-sac. This was nine adults who managed to become friends and stay very close for fifty years. In fact, six pairs of husbands and wives stayed close for nearly forty years and it was only cancer that came in between any of them.

So, what was the secret they used to sustain this friendship despite new friends coming in, moving to other states, growing children with their own busy lives, and retirement?

To figure that out, we have to go back to 1964.

First, they were helpful. The men lent a helping hand to each other to set up the new school before they even knew each other.

Second, they shared a similar sense of humor. According to Jim F, his dog, after being set on top of Jim M’s drafting board, peed all over it and everyone laughed, no one got mad.

Did I mention the pie? Apparently, these guys drank a lot of coffee and ate a lot of pie. I said to my sister, “No wonder Dad liked these guys so much.”

But, enough about the men. How about their wives? According to Bob R, the real sticking point was the wives. They treated each other like sisters and stuck together like family. There was no mention of the women eating pie but they certainly left a positive mark.

These friends were close but not exclusive, they welcomed another family into the fold many years after the friendship circle had formed.

In this group of friends, no activity was too small to participate in, no disagreement to large to come in between, no joke too silly to tell, and no moment not worth the effort. There was nothing to keep them together but a willingness to be friends.

They call themselves the UnGroup but it must be part of their humor. UnGroup suggests they are unorganized, unformed, and lacking rules or membership. However, there are four gigantic diaries chronicling fifty years of evidence to the contrary.

IMG_4557.JPG There’s even a logo!

I mean, what unorganization records every detail of their friendship? The UnGroup, that’s who. The 1st Diary keeper and starter, Phyllis, even used hashtags back in 1964.

#Pie

The second generation knows quite well that the UnGroup formed in 1964, but when my dad mentioned it was the 50th anniversary, I was shocked. It’s almost unbelievable to witness a group of couples come together so well that they maintained it through fifty years. It’s a little bit of magic, a whole lot of willingness, and a lot like family… or better.

I’ve always referred to the UnGroup as the third side of my family. There is a saying that your first friends are your cousins. Yes, they are. This 3rd side feeling was greatly apparent this past weekend when the 2nd generation put together a truly unorganized reunion (in comparison to the 1st generation, that is) in honor of the 50th year. I was hugged and it was ok. I was called Steph and it was very ok. There was no ice to break, just friends to talk to. The 3rd generation even took to the magic of becoming friends and cousins. Not all of the 1st generation or 2nd generation UnGroup was able to make it to our gathering. But, I look forward, as we head down the road to 60 years, to the possibility of meeting up with the 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th generation UnGroup non-members (to paraphrase Jerry F) again and again. Perhaps, at least once a year as is dictated in Book I of the UnGroup diary?

I’m thankful my parents found life long friends. I’m thankful they were willing to go the distance for friendship. I’m thankful I have a third side of the family.
1st Generation
Charlie, Mary, Jim, Betty, Bob, Tom, Phyllis, Jim, Sandy, Jim and Diane

1st Generation at the campfire in the sky
Jeanne, Jerry, and Carol

IMG_4555.JPG 1st generation non-members attending the 2nd Generation 50 Years Gathering

IMG_4558.JPG Playing Progressive Pictionary at the 50 Years Gathering

IMG_4566.JPGThe 30 Year Reunion

IMG_4565.JPG Roses, Flack and Masing go camping ~1992

IMG_4567.JPG Ever wondered what it’d be like to climb the backside of Sleeping Bear Dune? The Roses, Masings, Flacks, and Fausts kids can tell you ~1984

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Out Of Alignment

I’m afraid this unseasonably cold weather is my fault because I broke the “Every Holiday Has Its Day” rule. I have a Fall post that I mentally composed over a month ago but never got around to doing anything about it. Once I posted about the US Capitol Christmas Tree, I figured it was now out-of-season for the previous post. However, I didn’t realize that I’d be facing Valentine’s Day weather within next week. I feel like the universe is begging me to balance things out by posting out of turn in the other direction.

I’ll take your thank-yous in advance of the upcoming forecast. Please note it may take 4 days to 4 months to go into effect.

Prairie Webs
One cool, damp fall morning, I headed out to Midewin National Tall-Grass Prairie for a hike. I don’t run anymore. I seem to be pretty content with hiking. So be it.

Let me remind you that the prairie is fairly flat and with the exception of standing next to giant ragweed you should be able to see for miles. Trust me, it’s eerie to be standing in brilliant sunlight only to see a wall of fog just a quarter mile down the trail. To be fair, it’s eerie to stand next to 6 feet tall giant ragweed knowing that you’ll need to shoot Benadryl shortly.

IMG_4405.JPGMaybe the fog wouldn’t have seemed so ominous had I not come a across several of Halloween’s most common mascots.

IMG_4404.JPGThese webs were most likely produced by a Yellow Garden Spider or a Spined Mictathena, both common in Prairie Creek Woods at Midewin. These orbs are small in the spring and summer but get bigger and bigger as the season comes to an end.

I tell you, bigger and bigger is a fitting description for these orbs. I never noticed the orbs earlier in the summer but just before Halloween…wow. It’s as though Mother Nature wants you to know your silly decorations are no match for her.

First, she beguiles you with a splendid array of reds and yellows in the trees. You wander around blissful with a pleasant smile on your face thinking it’s just so pretty. Then Mother Nature has a laugh as you run into a single strand from a fall orb weaver. As you freak out from the feeling of the silken strand across your face, a severe chill goes down you back when you HEAR the thread snap. If your brain isn’t frozen with fear, you think “how big does a spider have to be to produce a thread that you can hear snap when you walk into it?”

IMG_4406.JPGThe sunlight happened to highlight the dew droplets on the silk thread spanning the trail ahead of me.

IMG_4403.JPGThe use of spider webs in Halloween decor didn’t just develop from intense arachnophobia, in nature they represent oncoming fall as much as colored leaves.

Happy Fall Everyone!

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An Early Christmas Season

I believe that the Christmas season doesn’t start until the last Turkey leg has been gnawed down to a splintering bone. But, I made an exception for the U.S. Capitol Christmas tree.

The Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie, which is part of our national forests, took advantage of the opportunity to bring the 88 feet tall White Spruce from the Chippewa National Forest to a couple of small towns just a few miles apart as the only IL stops on its tour to Washington, DC.

I felt a strong urge to go see the Capitol Tree because I am somewhat of a holiday freak and still get very excited about Christmas.

Was it worth braving the prairie winds and unseasonably below freezing temperatures?
Of course it was! Did you not just read my Holiday Freak declaration?

It was worth the early celebration and inhospitable climate, but I was disappointed that you can only see a couple of feet of the tree through a vinyl window. I mean, I get that there would be a lot of wind damage to the boughs driving down the highway, I just wish they could have dropped open a full side so maybe I could have hugged the tree or something.

Happy Thanksgiving! (I’m back to my old ways again! )

IMG_4545.JPG The Older Kid and me in front of the tree

IMG_4550.JPG I put the Younger Kid on my shoulders so that he could sign my name up high. I recommend that you bring a ladder if the tree comes to a town near you.

IMG_4546.JPG The Truck

IMG_4547.JPG I didn’t say it…

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That’s not indigestion!

For more years than I can count, I have been avoiding carbs. Ok,most days I don’t even try but there are plenty of wonderful carbs that I HAVE passed on because of weight control.

Last weekend, I had one of the worst stomach aches ever. It wasn’t quite food poisoning quality ache but, after 2 days of non-stop pain and a few seconds that might have rivaled food poisoning, I knew things just weren’t right.

I’ve joined the diverticulitis club.

Most of my pain comes from eating. Turns out simple carbs are the easiest thing to eat. Good proteins are evil. Mmmm, hand over the pasta!

Here’s hoping incredibly small potion sizes make up for all those carbs.

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