The very best part of having my novel published is meeting readers. In the past 10 months I’ve had the pleasure of being in the company of some fine, interesting women who, like the ladies of The Bridge Club, have shared a friendship through many decades. I would like to introduce you to one group that invited me to join them for an evening after they had read The Bridge Club. I couldn’t begin to tell you all they have shared through the years, so these words were sent to me by one of the members. Enjoy their story.
A Brief History of B & B Interest Group
This group was formed in September 1969 by a small collection of Toronto friends, most of whom were physiotherapists. We in turn brought along co-workers, neighbours and other friends. It began as an investment club and was named “B & B Investment Club” as most of us were home with babies (in those days!) and so were investing our Baby Bonus cheques. You can imagine how much that was!
After 4 years, during which we lost a little, gained a little but learned a lot, we felt we knew more than Bay Street (home of the Toronto Stock Exchange) , which wasn’t too exciting at that time and so we disbanded. By then, given the savvy group that we’d become, our name had changed to “Bull & Bear Investment Club”.
After two years (Sept. ’75), having missed the camaraderie & stimulation we had shared, we decided to re-invent ourselves. This time as an Interest Group. Out of convenience, the name B & B remained as that was what was on our bank account. The group had started with around 20 members and has continued to fluctuate over the years between 18—24 members, most of whom lived in the west end of city. In 1975 I moved to Oakville, but wanting to remain with group, I started inviting a few Oakville friends to come with me … mainly for company on the drive since most of our meetings were still at night. Presently we are now pretty evenly divided between Oakville and Toronto.
By the late 70’s we had evolved into quite an interesting and more diverse group; some had returned to work, many were still home raising children and some were career women with no children. Thus, we had extremely varied interests. We also had a wonderful array of interesting friends, leading to great contacts and resources for our topics/guest speakers. We have seldom paid huge honorariums for our speakers; as you are well aware, most receive a potted plant, bottle of wine or donation to their favourite charity. We’ve been very fortunate to have such willing and generous friends.
Over the years we’ve continued to meet monthly, except for summer. Meetings are either at each other’s homes or are outings, tours, etc. Our June meeting is always a wind-up party (lots of great food & wine!) during which we discuss which book/books we might read over the summer before our September “book review” meeting. Luckily we have 2 high school English teachers in group who usually lead this. We’ve covered best sellers, Canadian authors, current/hot topics,, (occasional trashy novel….always good summer read)! On occasion, as in this month, we’ve been very privileged to actually meet with the author. The program for the coming season is also discussed with suggested topics, names, dates drawn from hat … we usually work in pairs. Point of interest … our June parties started out as pot luck (when we had no $$), then evolved to dinners out (while we left dads home to babysit), then once dining out was no longer a novelty we had dinner catered in our homes … now that we’re all retired (several are “pensioners”!), we’re back to doing pot luck … although it’s certainly quite a spread, along with our Xmas party which I forgot to mention!
Over the years we’ve had many interesting and timely topics, enjoyed guest speakers ranging from judges and divorce lawyers, ministers, doctors and child psychologists, ballerinas, sculptors, gourmet chefs, wine connoisseurs, fitness experts, furriers, gemologists, genealogists, interior designers, gardeners, retirement planners, representatives of many worthwhile charitable causes (to which we in turn donate), not to mention interesting travelogues, usually presented by our own members as we (eventually) traveled the world. Tours have included Ford Plant, Woodbine Race track (one of our newer members even owns a racehorse; she was a very welcome addition), back stage at National Ballet and new Opera House, AGO, ROM and Gairdner exhibits, Air Farce, new CBC building and many more fascinating places.
On reading through our history one can easily see how our group and its interests have evolved over the years; about the only thing we haven’t covered is longterm care facilities or “alternate burial” options!
It’s been quite a ride and lots of fun along the way. Our members have come and gone for various reasons but the majority have been together for at least 20 years , including some originals. We currently range in age from mid-60’s to 80. We’ve had only a couple of divorces, 3 widows, 2 heart attacks, 1 death (age 81), too much cancer, and of course several joint replacements. I suspect that, in the near future, most of our meetings will switch to daytime as fewer people like to drive very far at night. I do think/hope, however, that given our long history/association, we will all do our damnedest to hang in with this very special group.
Sounds like a plan! My sincere thanks to each of you in the B&B Interest Group for a great evening of excellent conversation, lots of laughter, and a most delicious buffet table! Thank you also for your perceptive questions and comments about The Bridge Club. It’s incredibly rewarding to hear readers express how they relate to a writer’s work and your praise was most appreciated. The highlight of the evening, for me, was experiencing the obvious affection and respect you have for each other and for your enduring friendship. As kids say these days, you rock!
If this group of friends reminds you of one you know, I would love to hear from you. These are definitely stories worth sharing. It’s a big part of what makes the world go around.