Tell Us About Your Friends

We invite you to share your thoughts here on the Ames girls’ story, or to tell us about your own group of friends. (If there’s a follow-up project, we may be back in touch for more details. Thanks!)

Click here to share your thoughts.
(574) Tiffany
Tue, 6 September 2011 00:42:31 +0000

First, I wanted to say thank you for sharing your beautiful story.

I also wanted to comment on the town of Ames, Iowa itself. As a child, I was lucky enough to call Ames home for 18 short months. My family moved there when was in the 3rd and 4th grade in the 1980s.

Even today, I stay in close contact with some of the friends I made during my time at Saint Cecilia's grade school. This is something I can't say about many of the friends I made in other places I lived while growing up, which were also Midwestern college towns similar in size to Ames.

Until reading about the Girls from Ames, I found it odd that when there has been a crisis in my life, my Ames friends are some of the first to show their support. I lost my kidneys when I was 15, six years after leaving Ames. I was surprised when my Ames friends made the trip to see me at Children's Mercy Hospital in Kansas City, even before some of my extended family came to visit. Their long distance conversations helped get me through 8 years of dialysis and 2 kidney transplants (all before age 30). This isn't to say that I didn't also have wonderful support from my friends in Kansas, where I lived then and still live today, it's just that there is an extra special, almost inexplicable, quality to the friendships I first made in Ames. My Ames friends even invited me to my class' graduation at Ames High when I hadn't lived there in almost 8 years, and never actually attended Ames High, just Saint Cecilia's grade school.

Now after having read the book telling of others' experiences growing up in Ames, I believe there's something unique and almost magical about the town itself and the people from there. Whether it be the friendships formed there, or the number of highly successful people with ties to Ames in their childhood background, (I credit part of my Doctorate to Ames) Ames does something right.

I know I am extremely lucky to have been able to call Ames home and to have the friends I made while living there still in my life today. I am a better person today because of my experiences living there, and I am proud to say, I too consider myself a "Girl from Ames".


(573) Keri Mounce
Tue, 23 August 2011 23:59:18 +0000

I have a group of friends who I have been friends with for what seems like my whole life. While I dont see them often we communicate frequently with facebook. I know without a doubt in my mind that these two women would drop everything to be with me in a heartbeat. One girl, Kristin, is my sister even though we dont share the same blood. When we were 19 I began dating my husband. Six months later, he left for the marines. Kristin was ALWAYS there on the days he left from leave with a card, laugh, hugs, and quality time.

I also am blessed to have a group of friends that I have met through my job. These women have become my fenceposts that hold me up always. One, Robin, was with me in Chicago when I got the news that my beloved grandfather, was dying. She immediately offered to drive me back to my hometown of Streator, Illinois. This same woman, 3 years later was with her mom on their first trip to Disney. My husband came and got me at work and told me that his mother, whom I shared a special bond with, had passed away. I was devastated. I wasn't going to call Robin because she was on vacation. However, another special friend, MaryBeth called her. When Robin called me, her first response was, "I can come home". I can't express how touched I was. MaryBeth didn't leave my side very much that awful week. As I was shopping for a top to wear to the memorial service, I literally had a break down in front of the Fashion Bug in Springfield. I called MaryBeth in tears and hysterics. She helped to calm me down and the entire time without me knowing it was driving to Fashion Bug from work.

There is a third group of women that I have an incredible bond with and consider them my friends. They are my mother and her three sisters. I try every year and have at least one special day with each of my aunts and several with my mom. These women aren't just my relation they are true and deep friends.
Thank you for the opportunity to share my stories.
I am so thankful for this book.

(572) Kelli Steptoe
Sat, 20 August 2011 12:50:58 +0000

I haven't kept in touch with any friends from highschool but we moved into a neighbourhood when our girls were babies and everyone was the same age with children the same age and that was 20 years ago and these people have become our life long friends and all the kids went from Kindergarden to Gr.12 together and all keep in touch. It is very special. I am 45 and know the value of true friendship and really enjoyed the book. I hope that all the Ames women are healthy and happy.

(571) Deborah
Mon, 15 August 2011 04:21:36 +0000

To the Girls of Ames,
What an inspiring story of love & friendship!

My dearest friend, Anna & I met in 4th grade in Sunday School in Kansas City. By 6th grade we were at the same school, and bonded as we were the only 2 girls that would play football at recess with the boys. We had our ups and downs through Jr High & High School, but were side by side and best of friends through it all. Her brother was my 1st boyfriend, and I introduced her to her future husband.

We stayed connected through college, although she went out of state, and weeks would pass between our phone calls and letters.

We were at each others side on our wedding days, and at the birth of our 1st child. We are "sisters by choice" and have been together through every funeral, and life changing moment--the good, the bad & the ugly. Now in our mid thirties, we are currently in the "raising kids" stage which takes alot of time away from our friendship, but we always know the other is there. When we get together, no word has to be spoken. The other can read a look on her face and know exactly what is going on.

To have a friend that has known you through different stages of life is a gift. No history has to be told to lead up to a story. They are part of the history, and will forever be bonded.

I have had many dear friends come into my life since Anna, but none go by the name of "Aunt" to my children.

Blessings to each of you in your years together. To friendships that turn into family & bond us for life.

(570) Cara
Wed, 10 August 2011 01:19:14 +0000

I just finished the book about 5 minutes ago and had to get online immediately to get the updates. I laughed and cried reading this book and though I know how blessed I am to have lots of special women in my life and this book just made me appreciate them more. I moved around a lot as I was growing up but have manage to keep my connections with my girlfriends no matter where we are and no matter how much time might have went by since we last communicated. My own sister died a year ago in July and the women who love me that showed up for her service, some of them which I had not communicated or seen in person in years, really warmed my heart. I realized how loved I really am and I know that they all know I would do the same for any of them. I am now thinking that I should reach out and have a reunion of my own. Many of my girlfriends know each other but many more of them have me as their only connection and I feel like a cherished planet in the middle of a universe of beautiful, smart, talented women who each bring something different to my life.

(569) Jennifer
Tue, 9 August 2011 14:10:52 +0000

I just completed the "Girls from Ames". What a fabulous book! I'd like to thank the girls for agreeing to share their friendship with all of us women.

I like the "Girls from Ames", I am born and raised in the heart of Iowa. I have great memories of the keg parties in the cornfields, and college boys from the nearby town. I was part of a close group of friends. I had two that I was closer to. My story is different as I met a fork in the road much earlier than my girlfriends. I became a mother at age 20 while they were still in college and enjoying that life. I finished college later in life and had another child. When I had my 1st son, I wasn't ready to be a mom, but I embrassed it and focussed on his needs rather than my own. When I would get together with some of the girls, things were differnt, some actually didn't want to be seen in public with me and my son. So I surrounded myself with those that I felt truely supported and loved me, the two that I am still quite close to from my high school girlfriends.

I learned early on that many of the girls that I was friends with in high school, were not very excepting of those that are different. They were not true to how I had long thought they were. Since that experience, I am a bit guarded to female relationships. I wish that my connections with those girls had worked out, however, like Sally, it has made me a much stronger person.

Thanks again!


(568) LuAnn
Sat, 6 August 2011 14:09:14 +0000

The Girls from Ames" was a retirement gift from my "girls" of almost 50 years, all but one of us from Elkhorn, Wisconsin. Loved the book, and I love my friends. To be accepted unconditionally,(I'm the gay one) loved and supported over all these years...friendships like these are a long friendships even moreso! What I found interesting in comparison (although I hadn't really thought of it before) is that in our group, 3 have no children, 3 are single and 2 have only one child. We are not as spread out as the Ames girls, so we get together more often, but the "for sure" is a sleepover at our house each June....go out for fish, have a bonfire, play old records, share memories and generally have a good time together. Here's to friendship and the girls from Elkhorn!

(567) Susan
Mon, 1 August 2011 02:22:39 +0000

I just finished your book... except 'the acknowledgments'. I enjoyed identifying with the group. I have been in a bridge group for over 25 years. There are eight of us. A couple of the girls have moved away, and one left due to time constraints; but, we found 'agreed upon replacements'! This is the longest 'group' of women I've been with over the years. Due to the positive feelings I get with 'groups' of women, I soon joined other groups of women: Bunco group, grade level teacher group, line dance group,and a golf group. I love the comraderie we share, as well as the problem solving. We need this dialogue to prove to us that we are okay, and are doing the right thing with our spouse and kids/grandkids! Having developed many friendships in the various groups my life is happier. I thank God for my friends daily!
I wish God's blessings on all the Ames girls... good health and much happiness!

(566) Mandy Benedict
Fri, 29 July 2011 19:48:02 +0000

I call us the Fabulous 9. We met our Freshman year at Lindsey Wilson College in a small town called COlumbia, Kentucky. Soem of us were not instant friends, but over the year, we grew closer and closer. We are all so different. When I read your book, it reminded me of my girls. In college we were just fun loving, free spirited souls. We are still those souls, but we are also now a teacher, a cop, a counselor, a mother, a wife, and many more hats we wear. It is fun to think about the days in college when we were so different. As you sadi in teh book, these girls know the real you, who you were before you wore so many different hats. My friends now know me and a step mom adn a counselor, but they dont' know me as the war protesting- hippie child I was back then. My eight girls knew me then and can tel lyou about teh anti war signs in my college window or the tiem I broke my ankle runnign from campus security. Your book is awesome nad inspiring. Thank you.

(565) Abigail Mapes
Thu, 28 July 2011 22:37:30 +0000

It is true. Reading this book left me nodding and smiling and in tears as I realized this gift of friendship that has been given to so few, was given to me too.

My best friend Hannah introduced me to another pair of best friends, Kristen and Nichole, during a hot, Southern summer at church camp. We were 17 and had just finished our junior year of high school. Something happened that summer...some of us call it magic, some of us call it luck, but we all agree that it was not an accident we were brought together.

We were bonded together in such a way that we became inseparable. People never believed that we had known each other for such a short time. It was one of those things about life that you just can't explain unless you have experienced it yourself. We just went deep, fast. And somehow we all knew this and held on with all we were. We spent every weekend together...laughing, taking hundreds of what became known as "tradish pics," eating cookie dough, floating in the hot tub, and just being young and vibrant girls who were so in love with life.

We all parted ways for college and cried like our hearts were breaking. We remain connected by four journals. They rotate among us and are exchanged every time we are together in the same Starbucks parking lot in our hometown. We follow the rules we outlined at the front of every journal and agree to share our hearts in these precious pages. Every moment of our friendship is documented in each one.

We are now entering our senior year of college about to embark on even bigger journeys. But the journals connect us. The hugs we share bind us. And as we watch each other grow up into strong, beautiful women we hold onto that part of us that will always be 17...young and free and full of life.

(564) Jan
Wed, 27 July 2011 02:10:53 +0000

I just finished reading the book. I have loved it! Your relationships - that have spanned your lifetime - well, that's something I've always wanted, always pined away for. I've had some friends in adulthood that have made me feel that I was asking too much and wanting something that didn't exist or was unnecessary. They have felt content to have their husbands and children. Although I love my husband and children dearly, I have felt such a yearning to have a real connection with female friends. Even though I have some dear friends, I've never found that comfort zone, that level of understanding and connection that comes with friends who've shared your history, who went through life's highs and lows WITH you. My friends now only know me as an adult. They never knew my dad, who was killed in a car accident when I was a senior in high school. They don't know my siblings and all the experiences that have made me who I am. Many of them just don't know, or understand, me. I spent my childhood living in 4 different locations, so never had what you guys had growing up. And OH, how I envy the gift you all have - what you've given each other. Thanks for sharing your story with me. It warmed my heart.

(563) Amy Joanning
Mon, 25 July 2011 23:54:24 +0000

What a great read. Born, raised and still living in Boone, Iowa (just 15 miles West of Ames) I loved reading about the names of places, streets, cornfields, and who could forget detasseling (or we'd like to forget!)

Being in my 30's my closest friends are the ones I made in highschool. We were never a click, our friendships grew in the years after each of us graduated attending and being in each others weddings, throwing baby showers, etc.

When my very best friend Amanda moved to Colorado in 2003 I didn't know how I was going to cope. In the first 6 or so months after she moved I would mail her a hand written greeting card letting her know how much I missed and thought of her. Thank goodness for technology! We emailed, skyped, and text. To all of our delight she just moved back to Iowa two months ago :)

We also had a Taco Time in Boone but was bought out a few years back. The Ames Taco Time is the only one left and still a favorite stop.

Thank you to the Ames girls for letting us all into your lives and showing the rest of the world that there are more then cornfields in Iowa :)

(562) Madaline Carnabuci
Mon, 25 July 2011 02:28:34 +0000

I just finished The Girls From Ames, a book I've been meaning to read for some time. Like others who have written I thought, upon hearing about it, that's MY group of friends!

I have been friends with the same group of (now women ages 45-57) girls since elementary school. One of our husbands started referring to us as the "six pack" although there are actually 7 of us. We all amazingly enough still live in the same area (the 7th moved out of state thus the six pack moniker, as the six of us are frequently physically together more often!).

I cried as I read this book. So much is familiar. People often wonder that I don't have as many close college friends, or comment "how can you still be friends with the same people?"

Some stories this book reminded me of:

**When we went to college I remember one of the girls and I who always wanted to be "cool", writing letters to each other (pre email!), she'd write to Madaline "where's the party" ***** and I'd write back to Jannice "here's the party ******. LOL, little did we realize that made us instantly NOT cool! We wrote this on the envelope in the address!

**Even through periods when we're not "in touch" as life gets away from us all and we all have our own challenges in life, it is comforting to know that each of us is out there for us. One annual ritual we still have is the annual girls holiday get together at one of our houses. We used to do a Yankee Swap, but we were all too nice to each other and would always keep the gift we picked! Since as we often say, 'we share the same brain' not surprising. As different as we are there is a certain commonality that transcends any differences. It really is like additional DNA!

I can go for an entire year without seeing my friend who moved and it is still like zero time has passed. It's like this whenever we all get together. The little jokes, nicknames for people, "code words" it'a a marvelous gift.

**Once we were at our friend's brother in laws, playing the game "Taboo" where you have to guess a word without saying the most obvious clues. It was guys against the girls and in no short order the guys complained how unfair it was because we were clearly using our bank of stored common shared memories to decode the clues!

**I moved to a different town sophomore year in high school. You think I would have made a new group of friends. Instead I found another awesome friend and brought her into the "girls" She is still in our group to this day and it's like she's always been!

Thank you for your book, it is beautifully written and thanks to "the girls", (even though WE are "the girls", there is room for all of us!) for sharing some of their innermost secrets and thoughts with us.

(561) Anne Engelbrecht
Wed, 20 July 2011 00:23:55 +0000

My 22 yr. old daughter, Maryanne, an avid reader, bought me your book as a Christmas gift. She knew I would really appreciate reading your story. I'll briefly tell you why. I grew up in & still live in Brooklyn, NY. I attended college in Iowa from 1976-1980 at Westmar College in LeMars, IA, (unfortunately WC is now closed). WC was recruiting for sports in the NYC area in 1976 & they came to my high school. I graduated from WC in 1980. Living in IA was at first "culture shock" for sure, but by soph. yr. I had adjusted very well to college life. I can totally relate to your stories, IA life, all the ups & downs, how all of you got through so much together, & evolved into the woman you are today. I met my husband Mark at WC & we both graduated in 1980. We moved back to Brooklyn after grad. & married in 1982. My daughter Maryanne gets back to IA many times to see her Grandma, Mark's whole family & grew up flying out there from NYC for many family visits. It's been a wonderful part of her life to have "Iowa Roots!" I wanted you to know I'm so glad she bought me your book as I can relate to your lives, the period of time you grew up in, etc. There are so many parts I can remember from my college friends, such as detassling corn, Lake Okoboji (yes, Mark's family would have an annual family reunion there for yrs. do I know it well!!). Thanks for writing this book, I wish you all well. I almost feel like I know all of you. I hope I can meet you sometime. It's a wonderful book. All my very best to you all. ~Annie Engelbrecht, Brooklyn, NY~

(560) Araceli Mendoza
Sat, 16 July 2011 23:19:40 +0000

I just finished reading your book, being passed along a group of 5 widows who met @ joyful again retreat. What a wonderful piece of art & life's mirror for everyone to enjoy & relate to universal need to belong & be with treasured friends. The current 5 friends found through life hard realities of loosing our husbands to cancer are the cornerstone of our greatest support & walk to funding new normals. I do gave a long & similar friendship as the girls from Ames. My 9 high school girlfriends in the Philippines. Though distance separates us- I am in suburb of Chicago, Linda, a prior nun - remain single, no child, in new jersey, Neth in aucland, new zeland, no child & 7 in the Philippines. Amy suffered from colon cancer-has children from husband who was a divorcee/ no child from their union, nary 1 child, Dora & flor have adopted children. All of us has loving husbands (though I lost mine-aug 2,2008 he left with treasures untold:3 beautiful/loving children). Distance was not an issue - especially now with email, skype, & traditional postcards in mail. We are having our first class '75 high school reunion in the Philippines Feb 4, 2012. Can't wait to reminisce "life journeys" thru the years . Powerful realities that women do really have special bonding unlike any other species.

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