Saturday, July 17, 2004

Laughter, loyalty, love link club

After 62 years of get-togethers, Globe Girls share a world of memories

By Cliff Radel
Enquirer staff writer

Ruth Gabriel (from left), Evelyn Longhauser, Margie DeNoma and Bettie Meeko - otherwise known as The Globe Girls - have been gathering monthly to gab, laugh and share memories since 1942.
Ruth Gabriel holds a photograph of six of The Globe Girls, taken outside Globe-Wernicke in the early 1940s.
SYCAMORE TOWNSHIP - The Globe Girls can turn back the clock with one word.

Just say "Club."

Suddenly, it's 1942. Four 80-something Greater Cincinnati women are once more in their late teens and early 20s.

As World War II rages overseas, they're on the home front. Working at Norwood's Globe-Wernicke office furniture factory, they call themselves, "The Globe Girls."

Once a month, the Girls take a break from supporting the war effort to share some laughs. They put their planned get-togethers on their calendars, marking them with one word, "Club."

So it was in 1942.

Sixty-two years later, the women of the "Club" still call themselves the Girls and still meet monthly. That's 744 consecutive meetings. The next one is Friday. They'll do lunch first at a restaurant, then have dessert in a park.

"We'll get a little sun, reminisce and laugh like a bunch of young kids," said Ruth Gabriel as she sat with her friends on the deck of the Sycamore Township home she shares with Larry, her husband of 60 years.

"We just get along. Always have," said Bettie Meeko of Westwood as she tried to explain the group's longevity.

She triggered the start of the club in 1942 when she entertained "10 Globe girls" at her parents' house in hopes of selling some cosmetics.

"We share common interests and values," said Margie DeNoma of Sycamore Township. "We grew up poor. But we didn't feel that way. So, we just jelled."

"If something happens - good or bad - we're always there for each other," said Evelyn Longhauser of Pierce Township.

"It's love," Gabriel proclaimed. "We just love each other."

Their love has survived many changes.

"After the war, we got married and had children," Gabriel said. "We used the club as a chance to get out of the house and let our husbands watch our babies for a night."

Now, those babies have babies. The Girls have dwindled to four. Everyone has passed the 80-year milestone. All but one of their husbands are gone.

But the club keeps meeting.

"Don't call it a meeting," Meeko requested. "We've never had an official meeting. Never elected officers. We just talk and eat."

Table talk consisted of recollections. And laughter.

They recalled how Longhauser's case of cold feet nearly scuttled her wedding day.

"The Girls piled into a room at the church," Gabriel said, "and convinced her to get married."

For this gathering, Gabriel baked a Key-lime pie. Her guests brought sandwiches. Her husband fetched drinks. Then, he tried to escape.

Larry Gabriel claimed he doesn't "like to hang around" what he calls, "the hen club."

The Girls begged him to stay.

His wife even offered to sing "A Good Man is Hard to Find."

Larry turned on a radio. Glenn Miller's big band started playing "Little Brown Jug." The 1939 recording put the Girls in the mood for more reminiscing.

Ruth Gabriel passed around wartime photos of the Girls. There they were clowning at Globe-Wernicke's entrance, now an empty lot on the north side of the Norwood Lateral. Another showed them singing while gathered around a piano. Yet another posed them next to Longhauser's car, a pea-green beast they called P.G.

"We drove to Dayton in P.G. to go dancing," Ruth Gabriel recalled. "Evelyn didn't want us to open any windows because her hair looked so pretty. It got so hot in the car, her hairdo melted."

The Girls laughed. This story begat more recollections. And one question. The four grandmothers wondered about the exact date of their first meeting.

No one knew for sure.

"None of us have real good memories anymore," Longhauser said.

On the contrary, they have great memories. Sixty-two years' worth.


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