THAYER -- The first Tuesday of every month several local residents can be found gathering in Patrick Freeman's retirement office. No, they're not in the Freeman's downstairs to review old law books. They are there as members of the Tuesday Book Club II.
The club was organized in February 2004. It is relatively new as far as local clubs go and has presently an all-female membership of 11. At the February 2005 meeting, all were in attendance except for two (still working) teachers, Kay Ellis and Billie Reeves.
Other club members are: Dorothy Ellis, Rosie Freeman, Jo Ann Stewart, Billie Rae Mooney, Carlene Williams, Wendy Carhart, Pam Baker, Betty Morris and Marge Shipp.
The Thayer Public Library plays an important role in the club and club members first thought they might hold their monthly meetings at the library. Rosie Freeman was gracious enough to offer Pat's office, which worked out better because it gives the club members more space and the freedom to express their views without disturbing public library patrons.
The ladies read a book each a month. They work closely with the local library which furnishes them the books at no charge through the State Library Mid-Continent Program. In January club members received a list of books available and they made their selections for the entire year. Club member Pam Baker, who is also a Thayer librarian, said the book club helps the libraries's Adult Services Program by selecting their books through the library.
This month the ladies are reading Wouldn't Take Nothing for my Journey by poet Mayo Angelou. Last month they read Crazy Ladies by Michael Lee West.
Reading is not the only activity book club members enjoy. They share a certain type of show and tell. At this month's meeting, club member Carlene Williams brought an antique cookie jar and Rosie Freeman, with the help of the number on the jar agreed to find a name and date for it. One club member recently brought an old photo and the other women helped her identify who was in the picture.
The women, from all backgrounds -- many are retired professionals, but some are still working -- share a great sense of camaraderie. It is evident they not only enjoy the books but also the time spent together. "We just read and have a good time," Freeman said of the book club.
This is not the first book club organized in the city. Carlene Williams remembers her mother-in-law, Faye Williams, belonging to a club. "Juanita Jackson is still living and she belonged to the same club, and so did Paulene Cover (now deceased)," Williams said. The subject quickly turned to memories of elementary school at Thayer with both Billie Rea Mooney and Betty Morris recalling that Jackson was an elementary school teacher of theirs.
"We had 12 members in the Tuesday Book Club," Jackson said. "At one point we were a federated club. We met once a month at the hostess of the month's house. Everyone read a different book and the hostess that month reviewed the book she read. Faye Williams was a member and Marilyn Cover introduced us to Japanese poetry. We read classics and novels that were fashionable at the time. We had some great women in our club," Jackson said.
There are no dues and no community service requirements. You don't even have to be a woman. One club member said, "We'll make room for the new. The more the better."
At the February meeting the ladies discussed last month's read, Crazy Ladies. When asked what was the worst book they had selected to read they were unanimous: it was probably a book about an artist. Former Thayer art teacher Wendy Carhart took this all in good-natured stride.
"I didn't get to read last month's book because I had started a book on my own," said Williams. She said she had been reading When Isam was Sheriff. "It is about a former sheriff from my home county, Webster County, Mo." She shared some of her memories of the sheriff. "He was the only sheriff in southwest Missouri who had to drop his pants to get his pistol out." Williams said. She told of how he had a string tied to his gun down his pants leg. She said this was done to avoid scaring the kids in the community.
All in good fun, some of the club members joked that the club was aspiring to join the Oprah Book Club.