You might call them the ladies who lunch.
For the past seven years, four 87-year-old women who attended the Gilbert and Bennett School in Georgetown have been getting together over Christmastime to share memories at a special luncheon.
This past year, the women dined at the Norwalk Inn, arranged by Dorothy (Carlson) Hall of Westport, a member of the group. “The lunch is pretty special and something we all enjoy doing,” said Hall.
Since 2011, the group has met in Connecticut on Dec. 27, two days after Christmas. Because Hall lives nearby in Westport, she chooses the restaurant. Other members of the group joining in are Marjorie (Haajamen) Gordon of Medford, N.J., Margery (Eyes) DiTommaso of Oceanside, Long Island, and Barbara (Garrick) Ochs of Greenville, S.C.
The women met eight decades ago in first grade at the old Gilbert and Bennett School on New Street in the Georgetown section of Wilton. The school served grades 1-8. When the women graduated from eighth grade in 1945, they transferred to Danbury High School, where they all graduated in 1949.
From there, the women went their separate ways, keeping in touch with each other over the years through Christmas cards.
Seven years ago, Ochs came up with the idea of getting the group together for lunch, two days after Christmas. This was convenient for Ochs, because each year she drives up to Connecticut at Christmas to visit her sister in Brookfield.
“Can you believe it? Barbara drives up here every year on her own. At 87, I think that’s pretty great,” Hall said with a laugh.
At the annual lunches, the women update each other about what’s going on in their lives. Hall, a retired teacher, lives with her husband Gordon Hall, while the other three are widows.
Each year, Derek Gordon, a professor at Rutgers University, drives his mother Marjorie to the lunch from Medford, N.J. “I think these women are inspiring,” Gordon told The Bulletin. “It means a lot to my mother to visit with her old friends,” he said.
Hall recalled the old days when the girls attended the Gilbert and Bennett School. They all lived in Georgetown, which is comprised of Redding, Wilton, and Weston, and had to walk more than one mile every day to get to school. “There were no buses at the time,” Hall said.
Unlike today, when teachers are expected to supervise students on the playground, things were much looser back in the 1940s Hall said.
In third grade, she recalls, she hurt her arm after falling off some monkey bars on the playground. There was no teacher around to help. Hall said there was a small room in the school where teachers would often sneak off for a smoke, leaving children unattended. Hall’s wrist and elbow were swollen from the fall, so the school’s principal took her to a doctor in Georgetown, who told her it was bruised. When her father got home that night he took her to a different doctor who informed her that her arm was broken. “That’s how things were then,” Hall said.
At their annual lunches, the women are more likely to talk about their current health issues and their families. “We’re having a good time sharing stories, it’s something we look forward to and really enjoy,” Hall said.