Still meeting up – after 50 years

STILL BESTIES: The Monday Nighters, back from left, Pam Gush, Lilias Beamish, Joy McWilliams, Gay Bulbring, and front, Moira Seaman, Peggy Moore, Pat Fields and Myrna Shaw at a luncheon where they celebrated 50 years of friendship. Picture: SASHIKA PILLAY
STILL BESTIES: The Monday Nighters, back from left, Pam Gush, Lilias Beamish, Joy McWilliams, Gay Bulbring, and front, Moira Seaman, Peggy Moore, Pat Fields and Myrna Shaw at a luncheon where they celebrated 50 years of friendship. Picture: SASHIKA PILLAY

Bay women stay in touch through thick and thin

THEY say that blood is thicker than water, but when you’ve been friends for 50 years, you must be doing something right.

The Monday Nighters, as the Port Elizabeth group of women call themselves, started in May 1965 and reached their 50-year friendship milestone this year.

The sprightly women are from all walks of life and have overcome life’s challenges as well as glowing moments together, one of the groups’s members, Gay Bulbring, said.

The majority attended Collegiate Girls High School and the Holy Rosary Convent. However, the traditional school rivalry between the “Convent Cats” and the “Colli Dogs” did not affect the strength of their fairytale friendship. Gay said: “We’ve seen it all and it hasn’t changed a thing”.

A giggling Pat Fields elaborated on their journey together; the Monday Nighters shared ups and downs, heartaches, marriages, dealing with parenthood but, she continued, the best part of it all was that although as a group they were all different and diverse, they grew together and still fitted together perfectly.

Originally the group would meet on Monday evenings but as they finished school and started their own homes things changed.

Gay said: “Jobs, running after children, school meetings and day-to-day life just started getting in the way”.

Pat Fields, talking about “the good old days”, said that “in those days, we had our own housework to do; we had washing and ironing to do as well as children to raise.

“Our husbands were businessmen and golfers, they had good weekends, so Mondays we demanded they be home by 7pm so that we could meet with the other Monday Nighters – we were all young mothers, you know.

“Our meetings allowed us to knit together while discussing feeding problems, or behavioural issues, but more than anything it allowed us to chat and have a little tea party.”

Regardless of illness or pain, these women carry one another through, no matter what. The advantage of having a group like this, says Gay, is that “we know everything about each other, we were there for each other from the beginning ; we’re a network”.

“When in need, the women create a network, call and help out in whatever way they are needed; hospital visits, childcare – anything, always.”

This marvellous network, as Gay calls it, did not disintegrate due to suburban life routines – the group simply shifted to meeting once every three weeks on a Wednesday afternoon. According to both Gay and Pat, whenever they leave their homes to go to a Monday Nighters’ meeting (which they announce), they are always met with a smirk from either their husbands or children, who are obviously pondering if their mother or wife is a little dilly – considering it’s a Wednesday and the sun is shining.

Even though they have lost members, moved towns and schedules have shifted, somehow, their paths have managed to end up back in Port Elizabeth; living a more subdued life and reunited with special friends, these women are happier than ever.

-Storm Oliver

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