CONNERSVILLE, Ind. -- Back in the winter, a cellphone call came out of the blue one evening from a vivacious woman named Billie Bertch of Connersville. Before I could scramble for a notepad, she was off and running with information and a question.
Her book club members were reading Sweetland of Liberty Bed & Breakfast and would love for me to attend the discussion tea on April 9. Might I attend?
“Sure! I’ll be there,” I told her, scribbling the directions, then friending her moments later on Facebook. She told me the name of the club is A Dozen of Us. Our conversation was brief, and we didn’t get into background on the club. I assumed that it was a group of 12 friends who had formed a contemporary book club.
But when I got there today, as snow flurries sporadically drifted to the ground and the sun increasingly shone, I learned that A Dozen of Us (ADOU for short) certainly is not new. The Connersville literary club has been around since 1892 and there are 23 members of various ages on the roster. They read books, host speakers, sponsor scholarships, take part in community activities and enjoy – a great deal enjoy – each other’s company.
And, these women clearly love and celebrate their community.
Billie, just as vivacious in person as she is on the phone, got out the elegant silver and crystal for serving refreshments, provided in part by her friend and club sister, 92-year-old Marjorie Bastian.
On hand, as well, were other community leaders including a judge, a doctor, head of the Chamber of Commerce, an Edward Jones professional, and an assortment of vibrant retirees.
Ironically, one of the members, Kathy Sturgeon, remembered my sister-in-law, Linda, and said the two worked together at Ford back in the late 1970s-early 1980s. She thought highly of Linda, and I promised to pass on the information.
I liked what it said inside the club program, a quote from the writer Virginia Woolf from A Room of One’s Own: “Lock up your libraries if you like; but there is no gate, no lock, no bolt that you can set upon the freedom of my mind.”
These ladies have lived that out since 1892 – and counting.