I get by with a little help from my friends – John Lennon
We make many friends throughout our lifetime and if we are lucky we have a handful of enduring relationships that span the test of time. Enter The Boondocks Gang… but let me start at the beginning.
My husband, Eddie, went to Samford University in Birmingham, Alabama and was a member of the Pi Kappa Phi fraternity. When we were dating I remember meeting and spending time with some of his fraternity brothers and their wives who also attended Samford. Some lived here and others were out-of-state. I liked everyone but we were so scattered and some already had families and demanding careers go getting together was difficult.
Fast forward to 2007…this was 21 years after Eddie and I got married. Of everyone in our group, we had the youngest children but 2007 was the year our oldest graduated from high school. So we felt like we could travel a little more as the kids got older. We had been getting together with Steve and Valorie Parrish occasionally when they lived in Hoover but then they moved to Guntersville. We thought we’d never see them again! Or, rather our visits would be fewer and far between. But they planned a get-together at their new home on the lake and invited us and Rick and Cheryl Stevens (who live in Kentucky) to visit. The next year, 2008, we decided to get together again and this time the Doug and Karen Madison who live in Huntsville were able to join us! We had a blast and I documented our weekend in photos.
In 2009, we started having our theme based get-togethers. It was the 40th anniversary of Woodstock and I brought some Woodstock themed items for us to enjoy. I asked everyone to wear tye-dye shirts and we all had a blast. At first I wasn’t sure if everyone would go with a theme but I was pleasantly surprised! This was also the year we got our name. We went to dinner at a little place on the lake one night and decided if we were going to continue getting together every year, it would be fun to name our little group. The restaurant was called Boondocks so I suggested we call ourselves The Boondocks Gang and it stuck! This was also the year the Bensons (Anthony and Karen) joined us too. The Boondocks Gang was growing! Of our group, Val and I were the only two who did not attend Samford so we didn’t have the history the rest of the gang had but that never seemed to matter. And in the process, I think we both feel like we know every story they’ve all shared together over their years of friendship!
The Parrishs’ home became our clubhouse and we went through their home renovation and the addition of a garage apartment with them. We went from once a year get-togethers to trying to see each other several times a year. In 2011 we added a New Years celebration to the mix with the first one called Champagne Jam. We’ve had themes from Hawaiian luau, Jimmy Buffett, to our most memorable…our Rock of Ages party! We’ve ventured out-of-state as well with a Bourbon Trail and Churchill Downs trip in 2013, Savannah in 2012 and Atlanta also in 2012. Our gang continued to grow with David and Sandy Downs, Dan and Cindi Darnell, Jim and Robin Helms and Johnny and Lisa Pruitt.
There was only one year where everyone, and I mean EVERYONE was able to be together…well, that is, except for me. We sent a poll around early in 2011 for everyone to select weekends that worked so we could get the party planned. There was one date in July that worked for every except for me. It took so long to get the dates nailed down that I just called Val and said – “y’all need to go ahead and the get-together without me.” I had a conference in Washington DC and couldn’t back out at that point. Val freaked out a bit since we plan our events together and I come up with the theme. But we talked through the plans and she got more comfortable with them. Turns out this was the largest group we have ever had at the club house – 8 couples plus Eddie! And Val had a little something up her sleeve…
She bought a blow-up doll at Spencers and decided to enlarge a photo of my face and put it on the doll. She also had an assortment of clothing for me to wear too. Eddie walked into the house and started bringing in coolers, etc. and never noticed the doll against the wall until Val finally got his attention and pointed it out! Then the real fun began! The girls included me in every activity that weekend. They also clothing changes for everything! When they went to the boat dock, I had a bathing suit cover-up. I was included in all the group photos and even went to the grocery store with them to buy food! Best of all, while everything took place, the gang was sending me photos the entire time and to this day, it feel like I was actually there! Talk about feeling loved! This was the best!!!
I love these people…we’ve been through a lot together over the years and as we get older these friendships mean more and more to all of us. Personally, I may not have had the opportunity to know this group when they were in college, but I feel just as close to them regardless. So on the tenth anniversary of the birth of The Boondocks Gang…cheers to these special people in our lives and here’s to the next ten!