By TONY STINNETT, Courier Sports Editor
If you happen to be traveling through one of 95 Tennessee counties on the first Tuesday of a given month and notice five ladies having the time of their lives, they are probably from Cannon County.
They travel. They eat. They shop.
More than anything, they enjoy one another’s company.
These five ladies are Audrey (Rogers) Cawthorn, Nancy (Young) Davenport, Naomi (Arnett) Smith, Joy (Gilley) Spain and Peggy (Wilson) Tate.
On the first Tuesday morning of each month since July, 2003, all five ladies meet at the Rite Aid parking lot in Woodbury and begin their adventure.
They call it “girl’s day out.”
The group actually began with seven members, but Faye (Northcutt) Knox returned to work and Sue (Mason) Campbell passed away in June, 2013.
“It’s true friendship, that’s what it is,” Cawthorn said, discussing the special bond these ladies share. “All of us were retried and didn’t have too much to do so that’s why we started doing this. We really look forward to it. I think we get to missing one another so it is definitely something I look forward to doing.”
The crew attended Woodbury Central together in the 1950s. They were in the Class of 1958 and came up with the idea for girl’s day out following their 45th class reunion. Naomi Smith joined the group following their 50-year class reunion.
“We asked Naomi if she would like to join us at our 50th reunion and she was excited to do that so we brought her into the group,” informs Spain, who was an outstanding guard for Woodbury Central.
“This is something we share and enjoy. It is our time together.”
Tate drives her van so all five ladies can be together during their travel. The ladies split the cost of gas.
“I am the driver because I have a van,” Tate says, laughing. “Plus, this way if we are somewhere shopping and see something we want we just load it in the van and off we go.”
And, do they go?
The girl’s day out bunch has visited 30 of Tennessee’s 95 counties. They have traveled to six states, including Alabama, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky and North Carolina.
Their travels have taken them throughout the state of Tennessee as they have visited Bedford, Cheatham, Clay, Coffee, Cumberland, Davidson, DeKalb, Fentress, Grundy, Henderson, Lawrence, Lewis, Marshall, Montgomery, Maury, Moore, Overton, Pickett, Putnam, Rutherford, Sevier, Sequatchie, Smith, Sumner, Trousdale, Warren, White, Williamson and Wilson counties.
One of the highlights of the day trip is lunch.“We always pick a place to go eat,” Davenport shares. “I love to get outside, especially now that the weather is getting nice. I enjoy going every month. I wouldn’t trade these moments for anything.”
Their club is a democracy.No one person sets the agenda or plans the trip. In fact, most times the ladies have no idea where they will end up until they pull out of the parking lot and begin the discussion of the day’s events.“Not any one person decides where or what we are doing,” Tate suggests. “We just get in the van and go. We like to visit consignment shops, different stores and we always look forward to a good lunch. The shops usually come after lunch.”
This month the ladies visited Lebanon and had a delightful lunch at Sunset Restaurant. They visited shops under sunny skies with high clouds and temperatures reaching into the low 80s.Needless to say, the sun shines on their beauty and friendship.
“These are the best friends you could have,” Smith says. “It’s a good group, fun group. I enjoy the conversation and talking to them, just seeing what they have been doing. I love the eating and different places we go. It’s just fun.”
One summer the ladies visited nearby Rock Island for a camping get-away.“Joy (Spain) Gilley rented a cabin at Rock Island and we spent a few days there cooking, walking the neighborhood, playing games and getting very little rest,” Tate said.
“That was a fun time,” Smith said. “That was a real good time.”So was the trip to Chicago, where the ladies had hoped to attend a taping of the Oprah Show, but with no luck. These ladies are persistent.
“We didn’t get tickets but while we were in Chicago we did ride by the studio so we at least drove by where Oprah is taped,” Tate said. “That was a fun time.”Of all the places they have been, none compare to home.“
The best part is when we first started,” Tate said. “We would go to an area of the county where one of the ladies is from, where we group up, and we talked to them about our childhood and growing up there. We want all around Cannon County. It was really good.”
Happiness and genuine love and friendship can almost be felt when you visit with the jovial ladies. They have a bond. It is called true friendship and they are still making memories today they can cherish more than 50 years after attending Woodbury Central together.