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.
(124) Nancy C
Sun, 7 June 2009 04:57:22 +0000

I just finished reading The Girls From Ames and loved, loved, loved it. I was a 1980 grad from Iowa State and one of my best friends was an Ames grad. I shared many of the same experiences growing up in Mason City. Thank you for this wonderful trip down memory lane.

(123) Pam O
Sat, 6 June 2009 21:20:52 +0000

I could not resist reading The Girls From Ames, as I graduated in 1981 from Iowa State. My husband and I moved to Colorado 23
years ago and soon thereafter I was fortunate to meet some wonderful women friends that have been a part of my life for 20+ years. There are 13 of us in this group we affectionatley call the Ya Ya's. Twice a year we get together for "get-away"
weekends in the mountains. Our conversations at these get-aways have changed over the years from child rearing
and diaper changing to dealing with menopause and all the baggage that goes with it. We've helped each other through
various surgeries, illnesses and deaths in our families, as well as graduations, weddings and other milestones in each others lives. We look forward to the future knowing that whatever life throws our way we have each other to help us get through.
The Girls From Ames is a wonderful read and a true testament about the power of female friendships. I pray that my own daughters
will experience this ever important bond with the female friends in their lives.

(122) Roberta
Sat, 6 June 2009 18:48:18 +0000

I just finished this book and there were so many similarities (graduated in 1979) in my own upbringing that it was unbelievable. I, too, grew up surrounded by cornfields(and yes I too detassled corn!) across the Mighty Mississipp, in Illinois. Those friendships that I still have today from my childhood years, will always be stronger than any friendship made today. I truly enjoyed reading every word of this book and through tears and laughter it took me back through times of my life that I hadn't thought about for some time With that said, I thank you for sharing your friendship and your experiences. I wish you all the best.

(121) Kati Sullivan Lisansky
Sat, 6 June 2009 03:57:44 +0000

I just finished the book in two days with much laughter and tears. Like Karen,I live in suburban Philadelphia and I am part of a group of 4. Our friendships date back as far as 33 years (that is how old most of us are now) and though there were times that walking away would have been easier I treasure my friendship with these girls more then ever. Like the Ames girls we have a lot of shorthand in our speech, we talk about each other and annoy each other, and at times one may be closer to another then the others prompting jealousy,but in the end when I need to know that everything in life is going to be OK, I know they are the ones who will pull me through.
Right now we are all going through different stages of motherhood, careers, dating and marriage but all it takes is a good night out (we are all fortunate to be back in the Philly after 10 years of being scattered) to bring us back to what bonded us in the beginning( besides proxmity) and that is laughter and enjoyment of each others company. I am truely blessed to have these girls in my life: past, present and future. My thoughts and prays go out to these amazing women as the continue their journary through life together, forever entwined with each other.

(120) Julie
Thu, 4 June 2009 17:13:32 +0000

My mom gave me 'The Girls from Ames' to read after she finished it, which seemed appropriate. My mother is about to turn fifty and has had life-long friendships, ones that I have always admired, still admire, and try to emulate in my own way with my friends. Her best friend even moved across the state before elementary school, and they are still close friends to this day... as a matter of fact, I'm friends with her daughter, and I'm giving her (my mom's friend) the book this weekend. She, my mom, and two other women, will be headed on a "fifty" trip in the fall... just as they had done when they turned forty! As I was reading the book, I was organizing my best friend's shower and the book was a happy companion to that event. We are all so busy and all over the place in our 20's, but it's amazing that through the distance, even after weeks of not talking, we can come together and laugh like we're still in high school or college. These friendships maintain my sanity... it's true... having close girl friends is better than therapy!

(119) David HB Drake
Thu, 4 June 2009 16:07:59 +0000

Dear Girls from Ames,

Intersting that you just did a show on Wisconsin Public Radio out of Milwaukee WI.

I just finished writing an article about 2 weeks ago for Pirates Magazine (yes, I'm an "advice" columnist for Pirates Magazine)
on basically the same topic.

Back in the 1980's, I was part of a group called the "Ring of Steel" doing the theatrical sword fighting scenes from Shakespeare. There's something about trusting another person to swing four feet of steel at your head that cements lifelong friendships.

We just lost one of our "Lords of the Ring" this fall, which is what caused me to diverge from my usual advice column for Pirate wanna-bees to something more contemplative. Info on Pirates Magazine at

David HB Drake (Graybeard, the Ancient Mariner)


Looking back at the Wake"¦

'Twill be long, old man, 'fore our glasses clink,
'Twill be long 'fore we grasp your hand!
Then we dragged him ashore for a final drink,
Till the whole wide world seemed grand.*

Standing at the helm in the deepest depths of the night watch, with nothing but the moon and stars and waves for company"¦there are ghosts about.

I look over my shoulder at the wake of my vessel, a silvery shining path in the moonlight, there for a moment then gone forever.

I hear the clash of swords, the yells of battle, the smell of sweat, the Ring of Steel.

No dream this"¦
I'm known as Graybeard, the Ancient Mariner, for a reason. I'm one of the survivors. The "maroon" that got voted on the island, the one who is still afloat after so many years. The one who is looking back at the Wake.

For they marry and go, as the world rolls back,
They marry and vanish and die;
But their spirit shall live on the outside track,
As long as the years go by.*

Tonight I look back over a quarter a century ago when real swords flashed, flagons were drained, wenches squeezed, and comely maidens rescued in the days of The Ring of Steel. After so many years it finally happened, though it should have long ago.

Kane, one of our "Lords of the Ring", has fallen.

The aging Sons of Locksley, looking far more like Sean Connery in "Robin and Marian" than Errol Flynn in "The Adventures of Robin Hood", gathered at his wake to honor his memory and toast him once again. He was the Wrath of Kane, the slayer of Able, the Kane Mutiny, raising Kane with a sword in one hand and a dagger in the other, but died of a broken heart. "O Romeo, Romeo, brave Mercurio's dead. That gallant spirit hath aspired the clouds, which too untimely here did scorn the earth."

We cheered the captain, we cheered the crew,
And our own mate, times out of mind;
We cheered the land he was going to,
And the land he'd left behind.*

It was the early days of the Renaissance Fairs around 1980 and we were a troupe of professional actors and stuntmen known as "The Ring of Steel" who did the fight scenes from Shakespeare at King Richard's Faire. We were Men in Tights, long before Mel Brooks thought of it, storming the ramparts of the Black Swan, clanking our chain mail and claymores in "the Scottish Play", and engaged in all manner of mayhem to cheering crowds. . There was Jose, the Latin Lover, Brian the Cyclops, our one-eyed enforcer and minion of the Sheriff or the Cardinal, Bob, the period weapons and costume master, Page, the Vietnam Vet turned actor, Phil, the battering ram, and of course, our own Friar Tuck persona, Ed. I was the Troubadour, guitar in one hand and sword in the other; always ready to skewer a music critic. These were people you trusted to swing four feet of steel at your head and know they would never harm a hair. These are truly friends for life. "All for one and one for all" really meant something

I bring this musty memory up to all you nippers who are holding forth in the bloom of your piratitude. This column is supposed to be about "Advice for Lubbers".
Well, here be Graybeard's advice this time around"¦

This be the treasure, mates! Don't bury it on some island and forget it.
What you are doing and learning in these times may well influence the rest of your life. The memories and friends you gather now will be what keep you afloat for the long voyage, so treasure them, for beyond here be Dragons.

We roared Lang Syne as a last farewell,
But me heart seemed out of joint;
I well remember the hush that fell
As the steamer cleared the point;
We drifted home through the public bars,
We were ten times less by one,
Who'd sailed out under the morning stars,
Into the rising sun.*

Bob, the fight choreographer of the Ring, became the actor who portrayed Captain Bligh aboard the HMS Bounty (1960's movie ship) for many years out of Tampa FL where I joined him and learned to be a shantyman and sailor. Page, the real soldier among us, is now a psychologist helping heal families. Jose, for all these years, continues to thrill audiences at Ren-Fairs as the flamboyant swordsman "Don Juan Gaspar". Ed, Kane, Walter and Dave went on to long careers in technical theatre. Phil wrote a book called "Sword of the Light" and I wound up working on tall ships as a musician and educator, and columnist for this Broadside.

And then there's Brian, the weapons authority who writes the Blood and Thunder column in this very Pirates Magazine (without his signature eye-patch). Not long ago, he and I sang "The Outside Track", the song that's interspersed in this article, in memory of those careless times, friends, and fallen comrades.

And one by one, and two by two,
They've sailed from the quay since then;
I've said good-bye to the last I knew,
The last of the careless men;
And I can't but think that the times we had
Were the best times after all,
As I turn aside, raise my glass,
And drink to this barroom wall.*

Standing at the helm in the deepest depths of the night watch, with nothing but the moon and stars and waves for company"¦there are ghosts about. I look over my shoulder at the wake of my vessel, a silvery shining path in the moonlight, there for a moment then gone forever

*Poem excerpts from The Outside Track by Henry Lawson, 1896

(118) Deb
Thu, 4 June 2009 15:49:13 +0000

Listening to your interview right now on WI Public Radio, will definitely read the book. Also will reach out to freinds I've lost some touch with because of your story. It's never too late!

Had to share a story about men's vs women's freindships, which you touched on on WPR: my girlfriends and I share all kinds of details and talk things out. My husband though: he was with 4 men he's known for years, on a fishing trip in Canada. A middle-of-nowhere, dropped off in the woods by seaplane kind of trip. Some electricity for basic power but no TV, video games etc. No other people around, for a week.

I don't know what they talked about for a week, because when I asked what this man said about problems with his job, what that man said about his daughter upcoming marriage, another's health problems etc, he kept saying, 'we didn't talk about that'.

I kidded him that two female strangers in a public restroom could share more personal information in 5 minutes in the bathroom, then he and his good friends talked about in a week!

(117) Carol
Thu, 4 June 2009 01:11:50 +0000

I loved reading The Girls from Ames. I read the book ever so slowly because I didn't want it to end!
One of the best things that happened for me after being widowed nine years ago was to have a "get away" weekend with my long time girlfriends. The shared memories, laughter and tears were priceless and came at a time when I needed them most.

(116) Gloria Kirby
Wed, 3 June 2009 15:33:17 +0000

This book is us, the "girls",the "Mag 7" (for Magnificient 7)and lifelong friends
going back when some of us were babies. I
read the book in 2 days as I could not put
it down. The seven of us have kept in very
close contact all of our lives and are now
in our 67th year. We all grew up in Morton,
Il. and are still as close as when we were
children--maybe even closer. About 20 years ago after families were raised we started traveling together every other year starting with short trips. Now we travel
every year and do a long trip every other
year. Through the years our lives have been busy and we have been far from each other in distance, but never in our thoughts (thank goodness for e-mail). We also have been through marriage, divorce, deaths of spouses, children and parents and are always the first to call when these things happen. When together we laugh, cry, reminisce and there is non-stop talking for days on end. Like the "Ames Girls" we have laughed so hard we have had quick trips to the bathroom!! Our time now is even more precious as we realize we are at an age where things could drastically change for us. So now we huddle in even closer. We have also been thinking of writing a book and thanks to the "Ames Girls" part of their story is also our story.

Mag 7 - Pat,Sharon,Lynne,Judy,Shay,
Jane & Gloria

(115) Peggy McNaughton Clough
Wed, 3 June 2009 13:01:17 +0000

Just finished last night and I loved it! It brought back many memories. I've been blessed with many great friends. I've been lonely lately and miss my friends. This book has enouraged me to stay in touch with my friends. It takes effort when we're all so busy. But it's soooooooooo worth the effort!!

(114) Katie
Wed, 3 June 2009 01:59:45 +0000

What an awsome book! Even though I am only 16, this book has inspired me in many, many ways. I hope to have my friends and my friendship be able to be as strong as yours! Thanks!

(113) cora DeLoia
Tue, 2 June 2009 15:35:44 +0000

We have been wanting to write a book, just like this. We've been friends for over 45 years. Now in our mid 50's, we are girlfriends living all over the country/world, who have shared experiences in goodtimes and bad. As a result of one of our girls having been diagnosed with Ovarian Cancer in 2008, two of us recently started and received our non profit status for the Girlfriend Recovery Club, a non profit web based organization offering support for women in physical and emotional distress.
Still working on the website, we would love to discuss it with you, get your thoughts and feedback.

(112) Stacy C.
Tue, 2 June 2009 14:09:03 +0000

Wow! A brilliant and true account of how important our friends are in our life! As I face the big 4-0 this month, I am comforted by the stories and experiences the girls shared in the book. I grew up in a small city north of Minneapolis (of course its not so small now) and had a great life feeling that we had it all. I have recently been able to reconnect with the great friends from elementary school and am realizing how crucial it is to keep those memories alive. Whether its to remind me of where I came from or to open my eyes to where I am going, I am so blessed to be surrounded by these friends. I also have been lucky enought to have formed new friendships with wonderful women who will be in my life forever, through the thick and thin :)
Us girls, we gotta stick together, don'tcha know?!
Thank you so very much for writing this book!

(111) Ginny Westman
Mon, 1 June 2009 20:36:39 +0000

Hi girls. Haven't seen any of you since 1979 when I moved to CO. (although I was allowed to come back and go on the France trip the next year) So sorry to read about Sheila. I had a traumatic brain injury last year but woke up and recovered with lots of prayers. I had Dr. Bond and Dr. Sturdivant (both from our church) I was on track and swim teams and was Mr. Freeman's 8th grade basketball manager at Central. I worked at the pool (Municipal, not Carr's)for Coach Witmer. I was at that Bread concert too and took dance from Barbara Jean VanScoy. I only made it through one day of detassleing before I quit - same with walking beans! You did better. :) So fun to read the book. I have lived in Nevada for the past 20 years. My parents were just in Ames for their 20th ISU reunion. They called me about the WSJ article so I ran out and bought it here. (Ames was all sold out, of course!) Although we didn't hang out in school, I remember you and liked you, Nancy too. I think I liked everyone. Who was not to like?

(110) M.
Mon, 1 June 2009 19:44:02 +0000

School friends come an go but my family friends will always remain my favorite. We've been friends since we were like 2. I can tell them anything and I love them like family.

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