We were born in the early 50’s and grew up in a small Central Florida town that was famous for its Watermelon Festival, Poinsettia Ball, ferneries, citrus groves, packing houses, and clean, fresh water lakes. Our mothers did morning coffee with one another, traveled together, and celebrated birthdays together. Over the years, this tribe of women supported each other through great joys, sickness, betrayal, and the devastating loss of children, beloved friends and parents. They were the tribe who were members of the PTA, Room Mothers and the original activist’s for kids with disabilities in our schools. We went everywhere with them as they visited one another for cocktail hour, or to the beach and the “scrubs” for girl’s weekends. They hauled us to Brownie & Girl Scouts, Ballet & Piano Lessons, Swimming & Golf Lessons, to Birthday Parties, church youth groups, and Teen Dances at the Methodist Youth Center.
They wore their hair in French Twist’s, sported cotton house dresses and clam diggers with blouses tied at the waist. They dressed their feet in flats and loved cashmere sweaters with tiny mother of pearl buttons. They smoked Kent cigarette’s, drank bourbon or blended Canadian whiskey and we were intoxicated by the heavenly smell of orange blossoms mixed with the tribes scents of Chanel No. 5 and Arpeige. They were deeply southern and incredibly talented. They were high spirited, high maintenance, and almost always a bit irreverent. They were stay-at-home housewives, artists, musicians, nurses, florists, managers of school cafeterias, entrepreneurs, and teachers. Yes, they were ALL teachers and they took the process of teaching their daughters like any great CEO, very seriously!
They taught us the graces of southern living and what it meant to be good daughters: that music, art and literature were necessary for a cultured life. That faith in God, love and hope would guide you through any storm. That higher education opened doors of opportunity, and that we should never turn down the chance to travel the world. That thinking for ourselves and developing independence were crucial to our survival. That choosing the right china and silver patterns was absolute to a successful home and entertaining. That you had to plan for weeks to throw the perfect party, that all thank-you notes must be handwritten within 30 days, that there really was a difference between stoneware and bone china but you had to have both. That Waterford was the best crystal, that “real” pearls were the perfect accessory to everything, and that there was a proper way to polish silver and set a formal table. That you always wore black to a funeral and that baked ham, a casserole and banana pudding were the only appropriate foods to take to a grieving family (that you knew well). They taught us the importance of music and dance as we grew up listening to musicians ranging from Elvis and Frankie Valley, to Dave Brubeck and Aretha Franklin, to Pachelbel's "Cannon in D" to Floyd Cramer….. all playing on Saturday night amidst the fog of cigarette smoke and bourbon amplified by the dual speakers in the Danish American console stereo that was part of their home décor.
They were a force to be reckoned with, a tribe like no other. And our hardworking Daddy’s, the loving, kind, honorable men that they were, spent most of their time just trying to stay out of the “tribe’s” way! Bless their hearts….
And we, the daughters of the tribe, are now in our 60’s. We came from Lee Elementary, Beverly Shores, and Skeen Elementary. We collided in the 7th grade, never looked back, and created our own undeniable force! We are good students, loving sisters, great daughters, wives, mothers and grandmothers. We are gracefully charmed southern women who don't take any crap and have remained friends even though time and distance has separated us. We learned well; the most important lesson of all…..”Family isn’t always blood. It’s the people in your life who want you in theirs, the ones who accept you for who you are. The ones who would do anything to see you smile and who love you no matter what (unknown).” We are now “the tribe”; we are a really unique, very small, badass gang…. We are the Twisted TuTu Sisterhood and this is our time, this is our story!