1930s women’s club still going strong

(DeSoto Times-Tribune photo by Alexander Cox)Members of the Pleasant Hill Women’s Club meet Wednesday for their monthly luncheon.

OLIVE BRANCH — On the last Wednesday of every month, a close-knit group of women meet to socialize and discuss the latest topics of conversation. They are simply a society that has passed the test of time and is embedded in good-hearted Southern tradition. They call themselves the Pleasant Hill Women’s Club.

Founded in 1937 by Ro Bridgforth, her mother, mother-in-law and several other friends, the Pleasant Hill Women’s Club was once a group of women who met regularly at members’ homes for luncheons.

Long-time member Jeanne Liming, an 81-year-old from Olive Branch, said the original club members had guest speakers who taught them how to arrange flowers and how to cook. Members also cleaned their homes to perfection before they hosted the monthly luncheon, giving their homes the famous white glove cleanliness test to determine if their job was finished.

“Back then, it was a real women’s club,” Liming said with a smile. “It seems like all we do now is just visit.”

Now, the group’s purpose, according to Vice President Jeanne Stanbro, is “to have fun.”

Stanbro moved to Olive Branch from Pass Christian, Miss., after Hurricane Katrina.

“I was a stranger in a strange land,” Stanbro said.

She said the group was a great way to meet people and make friends.

“Most of the organizations I belong to have a purpose,” Stanbro said. “This is the only one I belong to that’s purpose is to get together and have fun.”

If fun is their purpose, they seem to accomplish this on a regular basis. The club is currently composed of 25 women whose ages range from 30 to 86-years-old. Their last meeting was Wednesday at Sweetpea’s Table in Olive Branch.

The tone for the meeting was set when Stanbro, who walks with a cane due to a knee injury, walked into the dining room and said, “When people ask me about my cane, I tell them I tore my meniscus. Then I tell them I lost my job as the back-up kicker for the New Orleans Saints.”

The members caught up on each other’s lives, partook in a short yet heated religious discussion and talked about the newest nomination for Supreme Court justice among an extraordinary amount of other things.

In order to become a member of the club, one must be invited to a luncheon by an existing member.

“Then we decide if they are fun enough for us,” Stanbro said.

There is a 25-member limit for the club, which means that in order for people to gain admission, an existing member must leave or, in some cases, pass away.

 Between lunch and dessert, the hosting member, Margaret Schoenberg, a first grade teacher at Hope Sullivan Elementary School, gave out door prizes.

It’s not all fun and games for the club, however. At their annual Christmas dinner, hosted by founder Ro Bridgforth’s daughter, Sissy Sanford, the club raises money for various charities in lieu of giving each other gifts.

“The Christmas party is really the heart of the organization,” Stanbro said. “We give the proceeds from the party to the charity of our choice.”

In the past, the group has supported House of Grace, which is a shelter for abused women, and the Wellness Clinic.

Alexandra Cox: 662-429-6397

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