“Hear Ye! Hear Ye! Hear Ye!” — Read a 1968 proclamation announcing the formal organization of the Sisters of Hips Aweigh (H.A.W.). H.A.W. was more informally known as the Fat Ladies Group.
This sisterhood of some of the Griffin area’s finest was organized to address a weighty problem. Boldly declaring that misery loves company and problems shared are lighter in weight, these women attacked their problem with mirth and weekly meetings. A sister could call on any other sister for any help she may need.
H.A.W. assembled for weekly meetings every Friday morning at 10 A.M. The weekly meeting site moved from home to home. Each member parked her feelings at home when the group assembled. Snide remarks and irreverent humor were in order. Humorous readings were given. No kids or men were allowed.
It was said that the husbands liked the Sisterhood because the women were better natured when they came home after the weekly meetings.
The original charter limited the sisterhood to twenty, but this restriction was lowered to sixteen in 1988. Charter members included Toddy Schmidt, Clara Keyes, Ada LeMay, Claire Peterson, and Kathy Keyes (Cowan). Rose Eason was the first new initiate. By 1969, Mary Juhl, Dorothy Reed, Ella Reigel, Eula Biggerly, and Velma Anderson had joined. Other sisters included, Ruth Baker, Lois Camus, Rheba Christopher, Pat Dunkelberger, Thora Flock, Irene Froboes, Yvonne Heffner, Imogen Leonard, Edith Leo, Alice Mack, Eleanor Perrire, Leona Peterson, and Eva Tobin.
Minutes were kept for each meeting. Officers were elected, including the President, Secretary, Under Secretary, and Flip Flap Officer, who was also known as she who guards the treasury. Other officers included the Record Keeper, Crowner of the Queen, Security Officer, Entertainment Committee Officer, Horn Blower, and Slip Writer. Each officer served until such time as the group felt like holding another election – “like in England.”
The sisters weighed and had their weights recorded at each meeting. Then they ate and enjoyed a program. Summaries of any weight changes were calculated at the annual Pounders’ Day meeting. Each member received one of three awards at this meeting, based upon these calculations. The Hippo award was presented to each member with a net weight gain for the year. The Turtle award was presented to each member with no weight gain. The Queen for a Day crown was awarded to each member who lost weight.
A big party was held whenever a member turned 75. Each sister turning 75 received a special telephone call from Ella Reigel who read a Western Union telegram announcing her Birthday and tickled her piano’s ivory keys with a classical rendition. Other special events included Christmas parties and Halloween parties.
Formal meetings ended after 25 years of frivolity, but Hips Aweigh still lives in many memories.
— STEVE LUNDIN
Copyright 2011 by Steve Lundin
Steve Lundin is a long-time resident of the Griffin community located in northwest Thurston County. He received a B.A. degree from the University of Washington and a J.D. degree from the University of Washington Law School and retired as a senior counsel for the Washington State House of Representatives after nearly 30 years.
He is recognized as the local historian of the Griffin area and has written a number of articles on local history and a book entitled Griffin Area Schools, available from the Griffin Neighborhood Association at a cost of $10.