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.
(394) Leslie Mendenhall
Fri, 7 May 2010 19:08:34 +0000

I really enjoyed The Girls from Ames and was anxious to add our story. I believe we are an extraordinary group of women with a truly extraordinary friendship.

When I talk to people about my group of friends, our history and our vacation savings account they are amazed and astounded with how long we have been friends and very intrigued by the savings account we opened in January 2001.

We sometimes refer to ourselves as high school friends, each others best friends or just "˜the bunko girls'. Sixteen years ago we heard about a dice game that groups of women or couples were playing similar to our mom's bridge groups. We decided to give this a try as a way to connect every month and just spend time together. Some of us refer to it as the 90's working women's version of bridge. We enjoy all the social aspects that go along with the bridge game (mainly the friendship, food and drink) but bunko doesn't take any skill or mental process and by Friday night most of us don't have any of that left. I'm pretty sure most of us don't even know how to play bridge.

It was nine years ago that one of the bunko girls suggested we start a savings account so we could take a trip together when we turned 50. At the time many of us were turning 40 so we figured we would save over the next 10 years and take a truly spectacular trip. Although some of us could afford such a trip many of us couldn't without our savings account. Two of us opened the savings account at a local bank with the first deposit of $240.00. We moved the trip up a few years and went in January 2007 which is the year the youngest of us turned 45. We had $14,000 in our account to be split amongst 11 of us.

We rented a 7 bedroom house outside of Cancun Mexico. It was a trip of a life-time. We added 3 more to our group and 14 beautiful women spent 7 days looking out over the ocean over coffee every morning.

Most of us were born between Nov 1960 and the end of 1961. We have 27 children between us ranging in age from 8-28 years old. We have shared the tremendous loss of one infant son, 2 moms, 1 dad, 2 step-dads and many grandparents. We have experienced the marriage of one of our kids and the birth of our first grandchild. We have been through 3 divorces and one separation. We all know that we can call on anyone in this group for support. It is hard to explain how strong the bonds are when you have this type of history.

Two sets of us met before kindergarten and have been friends for more than 45 years. Several of us went to Elementary School together and 2 more of us met on the school bus in 3rd grade. Junior High was when several of us got together and became almost inseparable. Another we met in high school and still one not until we were in our teens and twenties. One of the members is the older sister of one of us.

As I mentioned, six of the friendships were formed when we started 7th grade at Pittman Hills Jr. High School in Raytown Missouri. This was also the first year we had our "˜Girls Christmas Party'. Now as part of our bunko tradition we just held our 36th Girls Christmas Party. This just blows me away when I think that many of us have spent almost 3/4 of our lives together.

We spent the night at each others houses, babysat together and yes even shared a couple of boyfriends. Luckily the friendships survived the latter and no one ended up marrying the shared boyfriends. We survived the pettiness and cruelty that teenage girls can inflict on each other and we even survived piling 10 girls into a car to drive to Sonic. We won't mention the other things we survived because many of us haven't shared most of this with our own parents and certainly not our children, many of who are teenagers now.

Nine of us graduated from Raytown High School in 1979. One graduated in 1977 and one in 1980. Most of us stayed in the Kansas City/Raytown area after high school and college. One of us graduated from O'Hara High School in Kansas City. At the time we started the bunko group in the summer of 1992, several of us knew the O'Hara graduate from our work at a local restaurant and one of us attended education courses at UMKC with her. When the idea came up to start a bunko group it was a natural to include her. At the time we started the group her sister was also playing. Being single in a group of married women with kids was probably making her feel pretty old and she left the group but came back and subbed a few times. We invited another sister into the group and she has stayed with us. We have several other sisters and moms who have subbed into the group over the years as well as other friends.

One of our moms recently asked us if we remember the party she had at her house when we graduated from high school. She shared that she had this party because she knew that we would all be going our own way soon and she wanted this last party for us. She told us this story at one of our recent bunko nights where we reminisced about that night which was almost 31 years ago.

Some of us talk over the course of the month in between bunko Fridays but you wouldn't know it if you came to bunko. There is so much catching up going on you can't hear yourself think. Most of us, if not all, live for our monthly bunko. It's our therapy.

I'm sure there are bunko groups that have played together longer but I don't know if you can find too many groups with as much history as we have. We have 45 years of memories, laughs and tears and lets not forget the memories of a wonderful week spent together.

We couldn't be more different in a lot of ways but oh boy, the memories we have made and are still making. I think we all know how fortunate we are to have this great group of friends.

We have been saving since our trip to Mexico and plan to take another trip in 2011 as most of us turn 50 years old.

Leslie Mendenhall

(393) Lindsay
Wed, 5 May 2010 20:50:47 +0000

I finished reading this book a few days ago and I loved this book. I have friends like this now from my church and youth group, and we are always together. We are the Green Ridge Gang. In total their are 10 of us, and were anywhere from 15 to 18. None of us live relatively close to each other but we manage ways to see each other until we can drive haha. I hope that even when our lives take us all over to different places we can still be able to come together now and again to be there for each other as we do now, even though theirs distance physically. We rely on each other, play games, go to the various church activites together, and enjoy just being kids together, and we love every minute of each others company.

Who we are:

Star- energetic, enthusiastic, eccentric sometimes the worry wart. often confused easily with what to do. closest to Eryn

Eryn- emotional, shy, prefers change, and eager to help, very fun-loving. closest to Star

Sarah (Ref)- extremely sweet and innocent, often bouncing around, loves being young, our strongest emotional support, often the referee. very outgoing, dancer. closest to Marissa.

Patience(Pazy)- loyal, independent, loves hugs, our jokester and comedian, often can be found playing tricks on us, but mature. talented pianist and singer. close with all of us

Samantha(Sam)- loud and fun, independent, awesome writer, smart and worldly, shes our advice giver. Closest to Tatiana.

Tatiana(Tat)- shy, emotional, very giddy, loves singing, crafty and witty. she sees things most people look over, she's our girl for constructive criticism. Closest to myself and Sam.

Reanne(Ray)- Boisterous and creative, relaxed and cool, shes our artist. Loves all things that are eccentric or exotic. Closest to Sam.

Marissa(Bubba)- our actress, bright, talented in may ways, thoughtful, outgoing and spirited. very hyper. she helps us with our dances and dramas we do for the church. Closest to Sarah and Tat.

Sydney(Syd or Gimpy)- our cowgirl, originally from Georgia and loves to ride horses, considerate, caring, sweet and mature, shy about her talents. beautiful singer and pianist. closest to myself.

Lindsay(Lin or Pavement Girl)- I'm the clutz and often the one most confused. i'm the mother hen, and always packing the first aid kit. shy, smart, loving, helpful. Closest to Syd and Tat. But I love them all.

We can all be classified as ditzy and clumsy and a bit mischevious, but thats what makes us so great together. Our common faith and love for each other I pray will keep us together until the end.

(392) Ellen Blackstock
Fri, 30 April 2010 03:13:48 +0000

Just finished reading The Girls from Ames on the plane going and coming back from Boulder, CO to take my daughter to check out CU. It was a great book and in fact read excerpts to her while I was reading. I have had a 33 year friendship with 11 "girls" from college. We were all nursing students that graduated from a Catholic All Girls College in Los Angeles. The year we graduated we started a tradition of a Christmas party that included our boyfriends and later our husbands. We have been wonderful support to each other through the years in good times and bad. Your book resonated with me and could think of my dear friends. I sent them an e-mail tonight and told them to pick it up and read your book. Thanks for confirming what we all knew...

(391) Dana
Thu, 29 April 2010 22:38:15 +0000

I just finished the books...with many tears and many laughs and more "Oh my God, that sounds like us!" moments than I could count.

We call ourselves, "8 is Enough." The implication being that, yes, we were enough. Somehow after the group hit 8 we decided that our group was complete. Did we have "mean girl" moments? Yes, we did. Obviously, we were a closed clique; the implication of our name alone is proof of that. However, I prefer to think we had more "good girl" moments. Like the time the girls flew in to be with me when my mom died, the time I flew to be with Nat the night her dad died, the time we sent Melissa pink roses during her cancer treatment, our support during break ups, difficult pregnancies, infertility, infidelity, and depression...and everything in between.

We are 34 and 35, and from the 8 of us, we've had:
9 marriages
3 divorces
15 kids, 1 on the way
1 set of twins
3 parents lost
1 sibling lost
2 with cancer
And two really big secrets

We are:

Melissa: introverted, a little old-fashioned, sweet

Nat M: funny, happy, optimistic, outgoing

Nat E: loud, opiniated, strong, outspoken, protective

Trisha: the romantic, sweet, and beautiful

Paula: intelligent, thoughtful, slow to open up to people

Courtney: well put together, professional, determined

Dawn: newly married after one divorce, pregnant, a fighter, carries a lot on her shoulders, the one with "the eyes"

and me, Dana: currently single (divorced) with a cougar-like dating record, intelligent, outgoing, and the group's "shoe whore."

We are moms, teachers, nurses, dieticians, photographers, shelter directors, and business owners. We are eerily connected. I feel a pull and a longing for them that I can't explain to anyone who hasn't experienced it themselves. After a lifetime of looking for love (and failing miserably), I realized they are my soulmates. I have 7 soulmates. Who gets to be that lucky?

(390) Kathie Wilson
Thu, 29 April 2010 22:07:49 +0000

I just finished reading the book this afternoon. My sister passed it on to me after reading it herself because it reminded her of me and my friends of 50 plus years!
We are a group of friends that all went to Great Falls (MT) Central Catholic HS, graduating in 1972. Some of the girls have known each other and attended school together since grade school. The rest of us met in high school.
We have been meeting for lunch or dinner once a month for at least 25 years. Four years ago 6 of us went on what was to become our first annual weekend trip. We just returned Sunday from this years trip. We are now up to 8 and always have such a wonderful time together. One of the girls flies in from St. Paul, MN while the rest of us still live in Great Falls. We are all married, three of us to our high school sweethearts. We have 19 children between us and -- grandchildren.
The relationships between the Ames girls are so similar to ours. We have shared so much together. We have been through marriage, divorce, births, family illness, and death with each other. We can act crazy and laugh until our sides hurt or we can cry and know that we all understand each others joys and sorrows.
Thank you so much for sharing your stories with us. I plan on passing on my copy of The Girls From Ames to my best friend from high school with a message and hope that she will then pass it on to the next one and eventually we all will have shared the same copy and left a message.
Karla, I hope you still love living in Montana. Even on a snowy and cold Spring day like today! It is no wonder that the majority of us have stayed here, it is such a beautiful place to live and raise children!

(389) Carol Jensen
Thu, 29 April 2010 07:59:22 +0000

I was born in 1964. When I was in 2nd grade I met my BFF, Sarah. We were great friends. At Winter Break I was pulled from public school and put into private school. I was there trough 5th grade. The entire time I missed my friend. In 6th grade I was put back into public school & wondered if I would find Sarah. Turns out, she was in a Latin class with me. She didn't recognize me at first, but we quickly renewed our friendship. Now, in 2010, we are still friends. We are so different, but we complement each other. She helps me and I would like to tghink I was of some help to her. I love her like a sister.

(388) Pat Hulst
Tue, 27 April 2010 20:59:32 +0000

Hi Girls;
Just a quick note to tell you that I just finished your book at 12:30 last night. I had recommened you book to my PEO book discussion group. We are meeting tomorrow and I hope they all loved it as much as I did. There are 6 of us who have know each other for 62 years now. We went to kindergarten together in 1948. We are now all 67 and have a great time whenever we are able to get together. We mostly keep in touch by phone or e-mail. But when we talk it is like we talked yesterday as nothing have changed. We call ourselves "The Vintage Friends of Atwater" That is the community in LA that we lived in. I will keep you on my favorites and check in with you often. Love, Pat Hulst

(387) Joan
Sun, 25 April 2010 04:04:28 +0000

I loved the book!
Next week, 6 female school friends from Unity, Saskatchewan are meeting in Fairmont, British Columbia for our annual reunion. We are all 80 plus; 3 of the group were born there; I arrived in Unity to start Grade 3; 2 others came a bit later. Two of the group are deceased, and one can't travel because of ill health.
80 years of friendship is pretty special.
We need to do a story about ourselves> We'll talk about it when we get together.
Joan T

(386) Karen
Fri, 23 April 2010 13:59:44 +0000

I loved your book and could not put it down - thru laughter and tears.

I was born in 1964 and grew up in northern Illinois, amongst cornfields as well and could relate to so much in this book.

I did not meet my 2 BFF's until my early 20's, but we have been thru much of the same things all the girls in Ames have. We are each other's support systems and have been through cancer, death, jobs, children, husbands, etc. We are lucky enough to be able to see each other frequently for dinner and now can travel with each other (and hope to be able to do it more).

Women are incredible and strong and this book has made me realize how much we need each other and these bonds can never be broken. To the Girls from Ames, may you all be blessed.

(385) Melina Brown
Tue, 20 April 2010 23:51:00 +0000

I just finished your book. I felt compelled to write about a group of special woman I am friends with. No, we're not friends from way back.... But we ARE joined by a special bond. We are a group of 46 women/moms who have ALL been touched by childhood cancer, like Karla and Sheila's family. In September, we are shaving our heads for St. Baldricks, hoping to raise $1 million toward the CURE of this disease. I couldn't help notice that throughout the book, childhood cancer was described as "rare". It's not rare - on any given weekday, an average of 46 children are diagnosed. That's TWO classrooms of children. My son Levi was one of 46 diagnosed on September 2, 2004.

We are from all over the country and from all different walks of life. Through our bond, we have come to know and respect one another. We are thrilled to finally "meet" this September when we shave our heads. Our bond, though not years old, is strong and loving. I love their children and love these ladies! I am SO proud to be a part of this group!

Watch for us in September 2010!!

(384) Kelly Long
Sun, 18 April 2010 14:00:10 +0000

Dear Girls from Ames,

I just finished reading your book and loved it. As a divorced 38 year old with a child, there was so much I could relate to and I especially related to Kelly! I have one best friend, Mandy, rather than 9, but we have been friends since birth (our parents went to high school together) and I honestly don't know what I would do without her. She has been there for me through everything from cancer scares to putting on her "Big Girl Shoes" as she calls them and hitting the town so her newly single bff can have some fun (she is married with 2 kids). Thanks for having this website and sharing your updates. I was so glad to read both Kelly and Angela are doing well. Thanks again for sharing your story.

(383) Karen Brooks
Fri, 16 April 2010 21:43:20 +0000

Dear Girls from Ames, After reading your book I feel like you are my friends. I am an avid reader and have read hundreds of books in my 55 years. Ladies, I have to tell you this was the best book I have ever read in my life!!! I couldn't put it down. I read it straight through. I identified with so many things that you all went through. I can't thank you enough for sharing your forty years of friendship with the world. Your friendship and love for one another and your families oozed off of every page. I never thought in my lifetime I would read such a wonderful book. I wish you all good health and happiness. To Kelly and Angela I say "fight like a girl". Sincerest wishes and best of luck. Karen J. Brooks, Anderson, Indiana

(382) Cindy Barnett
Fri, 16 April 2010 19:40:14 +0000

I just happened upon this book. I've never seen it before, but will be reading it stat.
I am in the middle of planning what we're calling "The Crestline Girls Reunion". We are a group of 6 girls who've known each other for 45-47 years. Four of us, since kindergarten, all of us since 2nd Grade. Our story is not one of living our lives within the radius of each other and tracking each other's lives, our story is that all of us were together through 9th grade, and then a number of us moved with our families and went on to "live our lives" apart. Only a couple of us have kept touch with each other - UNTIL NOW! Thanks to the magic of Facebook, we have all found each other once again and are amazed at how close we all still are - even though we haven't been together for years. It feels just like yesterday that we were together. So, to celebrate our good fortune, we are having a reunion in our hometown of Crestline, California - up in the San Bernardino Mountains where we all grew up together. It promises to be an amazing event. Details are still to unfold.

(381) Lynn Dougherty
Thu, 15 April 2010 03:47:37 +0000

My best friend and I have been the Bobbsey Twins for 46 years when she moved to the neighborhood during our 4th grade year. After my moving away 38 years ago, we still talk every day. We survived walking home from school in the neighborhood singing, "We're raving, roving streetwalkers" not having any clue, much to our mothers'chagrine when one of our neighbors reported to them, what a streetwalker was to finding our way through very different college experiences. She lived the life of an independent woman at a huge university and lived at home and attended a small college. We struggled not to lose our friendship through those years but never lost each other. I knew we'd be okay when I got this from her after a time when when we had so little in common. She sent the lyrics to Sister Goldenhair Surprise,"I just keep thinkin' about you, Sister Goldenhair Surprise. AndI just can't live without you, can't you see it in my eyes. I've been one poor correspondent, I've been too, too hard to find but it doesn't mean you ain't been on my mind." We've survived marriages, children and not having children, death of beloved parents, and now the challenges of being happy in this crazy world in which we live. I couldn't do it without her and I'm thankful every day that I don't have to. We are Frog and Toad, the geriatic version of the Bobbsey Twins.

(380) Sharron
Wed, 14 April 2010 02:20:43 +0000

Hi! I love a good book about friendships:)

I have a best friend of twelve years and I love her to death. We have been there for each other for so long. She's been there when I've cried, laughed, been sick in the hospital, lost my dad, and even when other so-called friends hurt my feelings. I would do anything in the world for her. I wouldn't trade her for the world. She's actually my sister-in-law. Yes, we are that! She knows my shoulder is always there and no one can ever take her spot in my heart. I would give her the shirt off my back.

My childhood wasn't great. She has been helping me get through a lot of things. I am very grateful for that. She has been through some things in her life as well, and I have been there as the calming voice for her when those bad days come.

My point in sharing these thoughts is that I am so glad I actually know what real friendship is. I am happy I have been able to experience this in my lifetime. There is nothing like having a special friend in your life that you know would never leave your side. Even when you get mad at each other, it all blows over and the love is still the same:)

Thank you for this book:)

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