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.
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.
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.
Charlie, Mary, Jim, Betty, Bob, Tom, Phyllis, Jim, Sandy, Jim and Diane
1st Generation at the campfire in the sky
Jeanne, Jerry, and Carol