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.
(79) Mardee Malloy
Sun, 17 May 2009 19:25:17 +0000

I also grew up in Ames, Iowa. graduated in 1950 and left for married life in Michigan with 10 lifelong friendships. We have had a Round Robin letter going for around 57 or 58 years. I am sad to say for awhile it has been stopped. The book was given to me by my daughter,for Mother's Day and along with it a poem she wrote for me. The book brought back many memories.

Happy Mother's Day

The Girls from Ames
Who could have written it better?
You lived the story first hand
Through your "round robin" letter!

We all need friendship in our lives
That special one to talk to
I am the luckiest one of all
Because I'm blessed to have you!

Some say you cannot be
A mother and a friend
I will challenge each of them
To the very bitter end.

You love and support me
My mother, my friend
And when life breaks me
You're there to help me mend.

Your belief in me
You cannot hide
Whether 2 or 48
You are at my side.

You've given me so much mom
My nose and eyes of blue
Unfortunately I must add
I got your gray hair too!

But know that on this day in May
When we celebrate all mothers
I feel that I am doubly blessed
"˜Cuz mine's better than all the others.

I love you friend and mother
More than any words can say
Sit back and enjoy your present
On this, your special day.

Love Always, Shellie

(78) Cheryl Causey
Sun, 17 May 2009 17:39:02 +0000

I am a 45 year old "girl" who just began reading "The Girls from Ames." What an incredible story. Unfortunatley, my circle of best friends does not consist of 11, however, I have had a best friend since the age of 9. My best friend's name is Kim. Kim and I have been friends for 36 years. We have both been married, both have 2 children, and both have professional careers. We talk to each other everyday, and sometimes, several times a day. We do not see each other as often as we like, because of location; however, not one day goes by when one or the other is making that first phone call of the day...even as early as 7:15 am. I am truly blessed to have Kim as my best friend, and tell her frequently. Kim and I have been through so many life experiences together, and without her friendship, loyalty and loving words of comfort, I am not certain that I would have been able to cope with many of these experiences and challenges. I told Kim about the book, and we are reading it together...laughing, crying etc. It has resurfaced so many memories from both of our pasts as younger "girls". I have many other female aquaintances im my life, and have strongly urged them to buy the book and read it, also. Mr. Zaslow, thank you for allowing the Ames girls to open up and share their story of friendship with all of us, as I believe that most women would agree that there is almost nothing more precious than a lasting friendship with a group of "girls."

(77) fredda stout
Sat, 16 May 2009 14:41:30 +0000

The Same Sweet Girls (SSG's) are all 65, met over 50 years ago. Our annual reunion is in 3 weeks in Austin, Texas. While we will cry, talk and laugh as did the girls in the book. we plan things to keep the group rocking and rolling. We have rented a large house with pool and hot tub. Each SSG will bring 13 "things" with her as favors. There is no predicting what they will be--sentimental, silly, embarrassing blasts from the past, etc.
We will never leave the house and sleep very little. Each meal will have a theme like Senior Prom, luau, sock hop but you never know in advance. Each team does one day and the rest of us will be surprised. It may be a masseur, pedicures, an original game but more original than the one in the book.
3 are married to their original husbands, two are widowed, one never married, one is gay and six have been married at least twice.
We will have a wonderful, wonderful time but in the back of our minds we all know that we could lose someone. At 65 we are all full of life and eager for the next adventure; however, statistically we are aware that our times together are even more precious now.

Come visit and see why everything in the state of Texas is always bigger and better.

Thanks for our great book. It will be one of the 13 items at our reunion.

Fredda Stout

(76) Anne
Fri, 15 May 2009 04:54:08 +0000

I am also an Iowa girl with a group of treasured friends. Many of us went to Iowa State and we are all still very close. Our 40th high school class reunion will be this summer, and we are all going and will be staying together and can't wait. Most of us have moved out of Iowa, but it will always hold a special place in our hearts, and we always feel at home there, because of each other. I am really looking forward to reading the book (my Mother's Day present!)

(75) Audrey Mather Morton
Fri, 15 May 2009 04:25:16 +0000

Are we sure it is not Ames that makes us close to large groups of women? I graduated from Ames High too, but in 1956. I moved to Omaha in 1960 and on to CA. in 1962, but am still very close with high school friends. Our stories might be similar to these 11 girls stories except we were MUCH straighter. No beer in the corn fields nor open necking in front of each other. The most daring thing we did was share a "cig." I had slumber parties at my house to celebrate my birthday and invited every girl in my class...and we all got along very well. Some were closer to each other, but as a whole our class was fantastic!

(74) Kathy Weber
Fri, 15 May 2009 02:00:16 +0000

As youngsters, guys were playing hockey and women watched so 10 couples have gotten together for 48 years, have lost some thru death and guys no longer play hockey, but we still get together once a month.

(73) Bobbie Jo Dempsey
Fri, 15 May 2009 00:37:36 +0000

I just finished the Book and I am so sad. When reading about the girls and thier lives, I felt like I was transformed into one of the gang. Now I feel left out of the loop :( I could not get enough. I related on so many levels even though my group of friends was made up of both male and females. I laughed out loud and I cried openly, often on the train to and from work. I want to know how the girls are doing in thier fight against cancer. Has Kell found " The One" ? I'd love a follow up...But most of all, I would like to thank the author for seeing the hidden gem in this group of women. I'd also like to thank the Girls from Ames for sharing thier lives and the lives of thier families so openly. Your candid honesty was refreshing. I will be lending my book to friends, but I will demand it back as I am sure I will want to read it again. Bravo!

(72) Nancy Edwards
Thu, 14 May 2009 20:45:55 +0000

From: nancy edwards
Date: May 14, 2009 3:34:54 PM CDT
Subject: I am also a girl from Ames..........

Dear Jeffrey,

I just finished reading your touching and eloquent story and have collected up many thoughts along the way
which I could barely wait to share with you. I ask that you forward this letter to all the girls from Ames, along
with my email address should they choose to communicate with me. Perhaps I'll begin with a recent photo:

I am a divorced mother of three; grandmother of eight; live on a metro lake in Minneapolis in a 120-year old enchanted cottage; am
a seasoned therapist and a writer. I am 65 years old. Ames is the only home town I've ever had, although I was forced to leave
my entire childhood there behind at the age of sixteen and have only been back one time for a 25th. year high school reunion.

Reading your book felt like picking up a detailed history of everything about Ames from the point of my sad departure. It filled in
so much history, providing a picture of what my life might have looked like had I never left Ames. I lived directly across from
Brookside Park, my brother went to Grinnell, my first job was detassling corn (for only 35 cents an hour!), and my best friend
died mysteriously at age 27. So much of what you wrote was hauntingly similar to my own story, Jeffrey.

Your book is ageless and clearly resonates with all women fortunate enough to maintain childhood girlfriends but it is particularly
meaningful to another "girl from Ames".

Reading each chapter on individual women, what jumped out at me was my remarkable resemblance to Kelly. I was her; she was
me; I am her still. The rebel, the extrovert, a little wobbly on boundaries, extremely gifted in my field (as she is as a teacher),
prone to intimate connections with younger "mentorees" through spontaneous self-disclosure........the list goes on & on. As a
middle-aged divorcee, I've even had too many online dating experiences & disastrous results! In my twenties, I too had a
"bad girlfriend" with whom I was a little wild. At this stage of my life, which I refer to as "late middle-aged", there are only two
of my Wayzata high school classmates who brunch monthly who are divorced. They've worried about me incessantly,
just like Kelly's comrades! I earned the dubious title of Class Clown in my 1962 high school yearbook.

I only hope to God that I don't get cancer.

I divorced at sixty, took up free style dancing at local rock band venues, lost 40 pounds just dancing, and have many fans
who call me "Dancing Grandma". This is my other life when not doing therapy with very depressed middle-agers! Not a
dancing gig goes by without several much younger women telling me, "I want to be JUST like YOU!!" or commenting that
I am their inspiration in life. If I've learned anything in life (girls from Ames TAKE NOTE!) it's this: the older you get, the
more you can get away with:) Seriously. I think of it as "living outrageously" as opposed to "aging gracefully".

The real truth, however, is that I've always been outrageous but at sixty-five my behavior is applauded rather than scorned
or criticized. How sweet it is. I have only one mentor, an 82-year old named Kate, who works out at a cheap, local fitness
club. Also an extrovert, the day I met her she mentioned having broken her collar bone only one month ago snow-boarding
but has since resumed teaching belly-dancing to even older women! When I shared my wisdom about age offering open-
ended freedom, she replied, "I can get away with a hell of a lot more than YOU!". I'm sure she's right.

The girls from Ames are exactly around the ages of my own three adult children, so I can't help but wonder if any of their
parents or teachers knew my family? My dad, George Grooms, worked for Collegiate Manufacturing Company for 25
years designing college logos and eventually wonderful stuffed animals and college mascots. He not only designed the
Iowa State cardinal costume but the U of Minnesota's Goldy Gopher. He moved our family to Minnesota in 1960 to start his
own stuffed animal business (Animal Fair). It was wildly successful.

I feel as though I am one of these girls from Ames but also can imagine myself as their "mentor" for I'm a generation ahead of
their journey and a pretty good story-teller (as is my older brother, Steve, a published author). Truth be told though, the
women about whom you've written have something I sorely lack: close sisterhood enduring over a lifetime. I'd give anything
to have this, Jeffrey, but I never went back to Ames and wasn't in Wayzata long enough to form such bonds. After high
school, I was only at the University for a year before getting pregnant, then "having to get married". That's what they used to
call it, especially since abortion wasn't legal for another decade. After three kids and ten years, I divorced, thereby cutting most
ties there were. A second marriage lasted way too long and by now, it seems most mature women have long since formed
their closest friendships. As you wrote, there are no friendships more intimate than the earliest ones. Not all of us are blessed
to have lived lives in a way which provided this luxury.

So, while I'm very moved by your story, I'm also left a bit sad because what these women have is something for which I've always
yearned. I see it once a month when I brunch with my Wayzata classmates, most of whom grew up together which I did not.
I fear that this level of intimacy can only evolve from childhood and probably not replicated in adulthood ?

Thank you for writing and for listening, Jeffrey. If you're curious about just how much fun I'm finally having in late middle-age,
visit my silly web site:


Nancy Edwards (formerly Grooms)

*Please note: I attempted to email this (along with my pic)
to Zaslow's listed email address & it bounced back! Please
email me with how I can get this to him!!!!!

(71) Brenda Hennessey
Thu, 14 May 2009 14:05:11 +0000

I just finished the book. My mother-in-law just died and had 4 friends from nursing school that have been her friends for over 50 years. The love and bond that they all shared reminds me so much of yours. May you all have 50+ years together as well. Also...I grew up down the street from Stonehill College where Jane teaches. I couldn't believe it!

(70) Molls
Tue, 12 May 2009 20:38:32 +0000

I am about to depart from Ames--> my home away from home for five years through college and jobs. I wrote an editorial, just before reading your book, and I thought Id share it.
This book clearly hits home for me in so many ways. It could not have come to me at a better time.
I will cherish it always.

What brings you to Ames?

It's a question most people get asked here. It's like you cant just happen upon this place by accident. That you have to have a purpose for getting off on Exit 111B and going West towards Ames. Some people said it was the sports: whether they came to play one or they came to watch them, they were here to be a Cyclone. Others came for the academics, to become an Iowa State engineer or Architect. There was Greek life, theater, agriculture, and hope. Maybe I came for a little bit of all of that, the promise of possibilities.

I came because of a feeling. From the second I stepped on campus it was home. I never imagined myself in the middle of Iowa for five years, but then again I didn't imagine a lot of things. I didn't imagine myself meeting girls who I could consider sisters, whom I talk to daily and who know me better than I know myself. I didn't imagine tailgating at 5 in the morning, driving around cornfields as a sufficient way to spend your time, or learning to love a place more than I thought I had loved the city. I didn't imagine falling in "love" and then getting heartbroken, in pursuing a long distance relationship when I was only twenty, or falling in love for real this time, and learning how hard it is to let it go. It was always about the feeling though. The feeling you get when you finish a final, or go to FAC and having a genuinely amazing time all before 7pm. It's the feeling you get after staying up all night in Panama City beach, and watching the sunrise with people you suddenly realize are more family than the ones you left at home. The feeling comes when you sit and talk about nothing with people from all over the country, late night study sessions at Perkins, and dollar movies at the mall. It's the singing at the top of your lungs on a road trip to Chicago, nights in Iowa City that you're thankful to have survived. It's a small town forty miles north of Des Moines, and 180 miles south of where I'll be in a week's time"¦that I will forever think of as my own.

I'm leaving so much of myself here, so much of my heart will always be locked away in every part of this town which has touched me in ways I never thought possible, and in ways that I couldn't even begin to describe.

I'll never forget this place; I couldn't do it if I tried. There is so much of me that wishes all the possibilities that Ames (a place that people think is just a pit stop on your way to something better on your drive down 35) would never have to come to an end.

My heart breaks as I say my final goodbye, because I am saying goodbye to so much more than a little town. I'm saying goodbye to memories, to friendships, to hopes, to a future that never happened, to a love so great I can't even wrap my mind around it.

And with that goodbye I whisper a grateful "Thank you""¦for changing my life, saving my life, and helping me continue my life. There isn't enough gratitude in the world to express how such a little town can do such big things for one person. And for that, I am forever grateful.

"Growing up happens in a heartbeat. One day you're in diapers, the next day you're gone. But the memories of childhood stay with you for the long haul. I remember a place, a town, a house, like a lot of houses. A yard like a lot of other yards. On a street like a lot of other streets. And the thing is, after all these years, I still look back...with wonder."- The Wonder Years

(69) kristi clemensen beeksma
Tue, 12 May 2009 13:51:58 +0000

I was so excited to read this book and had a hard time putting it down. I have maintained a close friendship with 4 girlfriends, with whom I grew up with in a small suburb of Minneapolis. We still make a point to get together on a regular basis 20 years after our high school graduation, yet all of us have known each other since preschool or early grade school years. I treasure these friendships most of all. Maybe because there is so much history, but also because the years spent with them were such formidable years for us, and I wonder how different each of us might be had we lived elsewhere or even ran with a different circle of friends in those days. Through college, marriages, babies, new social circles and other hectic aspects of daily lives, we have always managed to make some time for each other. This book re-enforced my belief of how important good girlfriends and lasting friendships are. As the last of the 5 of us to have a baby (expected this summer), I hope to instill the importance and value of friendship to my daughter, and will save this book for her to one day read.

(68) Lori Cox
Tue, 12 May 2009 03:06:33 +0000

I read this book and loved it! I wish i had a group of friends like this. I felt sad closing the book so came to the website hoping maybe there would be updates on the "girls" since the book was written. I do have a sister i get together with every couple of months she lives in Ct and I in R. I look forward to our sister weekends as we have come to call them. We laugh, play games and such. I love womens friendships it does make the rest of your life more rich. Thanks for a sharing your wonderful story. Great Book, one i will pass on to a friend. zRUdx

(67) Debbie
Mon, 11 May 2009 21:01:57 +0000

I grew up in St. Lambert, Quebec, Canada and came of age with a group of 9 other girls in the 70's and this could be our story. Some of us have been friends since grade school, while others joined the group in high school. We are all now scattered across the globe - from California to Boston, across Canada and even one in Australia. We try to re-unite somewhere each year, and always stay in touch via email in between. we have been there for each other through thick & thin - births of children and deaths of parents; marriages and divorces; all of lifes' ups and downs. Only difference between the Ames Girls and us is that we call ourselves "The Hens". We are all reading the book and will be getting together in Boston in the fall to talk about it. Thank you for writing such a thoughtful book about the power of friendship between women.

(66) Joan
Mon, 11 May 2009 20:14:10 +0000

I, too, am an Iowa girl. I grew up in the town of Estherville, 15 miles from Spirit Lake (home of Sally) and the Lakes Region where several of the girls spent their summers. I graduated from Iowa State in 1986 and am the same age as "The Ames Girls."
My friend, Amy, and I have been very close (BFFs to use today's acronym) friends since first grade with Mrs. Strong at Maniece Elementary School. Though I now live in New Jersey and she lives in Cedar Falls, Iowa, and we only see each other every year or so, it is as if time has stopped. We are certainly never at a lack for conversation!!! And just like the Ames Girls, e-mail has definitely helped us stay in better contact.
Additionally, I believe Sheila was in several of my child development classes in the fall of 1985. My degree is also in the field of Child Life Specialist. This was a relatively new program at the time so there was a pretty small group of us. I also did my internship in the spring semester of 1986. I can almost picture Sheila across the room in one of Dr. Sam Clarke's classes. Her sparkling eyes are what I remember best! I realize that I will never know for sure, but it was, for me, one of the goosebumps moments while reading this book!
I was so excited when this book was chosen for our book group. I thoroughly enjoyed it, cried like a baby many times while reading it, and will recommend this to my dear friend Amy and all my newer local friends as well!!! Thank you, Mr. Zaslow!!!

(65) amy
Mon, 11 May 2009 14:24:41 +0000

i grew up in queens, new york. it was a great place to grow up. i am fortunate enough to still be close with 3 friends from my childhood. i know my friend jane since i am one year old, so that makes our friendship 53 years in the making! my friend jane and i have been friends with debbie since we are 4 years old! so that makes it 49 years! at age 11 i was fortunate to meet barbara in junior high school, so our friendship is going on 43 years! i introduced barbara to jane and debbie early on in our friendship. i must say i feel very lucky to know these beautiful, caring souls! i couldn't ask for better friends! loving your book by the way! thanks!

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