Ages 65 to 82, they call themselves the “Dirty Dozen.” The chic and vivacious bunch has been meeting every other week for nearly 40 years, bonding over a regular schedule of tennis, bridge, drinks and lunch – in that order.
Purple is Jeanne Murphy’s favorite color, and being the hostess this week, she’s made sure everything is flush in it – from the silverware to the Daiquiri glasses to the patio umbrella that gives shade to 12 ladies gabbing.
As lobsters are cracked and drinks are poured, the group of old friends settle into a routine they have repeated many times before.
The patio fills with raucous laughter. Memories weave their way through the conversation, and jokes – from four decades of friendship – act as punctuation marks to the summertime gathering.
Ages 65 to 82, they call themselves the “Dirty Dozen.” The chic and vivacious bunch has been meeting every other week for nearly 40 years, bonding over a regular schedule of tennis, bridge, drinks, and lunch – in that order.
“If it’s Wednesday, it’s the dirty dozen,” said Candy Heath of Hingham.
“We make a party out of anything,” added Mary Bigler of Hingham. “Nothing is out of line for us.”
The majority of the women are from Hingham, but some claim Braintree, Cohasset and Weymouth as home.
Not once have they missed a regular luncheon.
It all started on a summer day in 1970, when Helen Emily “Gil” Kilbourne decided to have five of her friends over for lunch. Heath suggested each person invite a guest, to make 12 for a tennis round robin.
The theme stuck, and from then on it was the six “originals” and whoever they invited. Guests who proved they were a good time and could keep up were invited back . . . again and again, if they fit just right.
With the exception of Heath and Bigler, all of the current Dirty Dozen “originals” are former guests. Bigler said they took over for permanent members when one of two things happened: “They moved to heaven, or they moved to Florida.”
That’s not to say they are newbies. Even the most recent addition to the “originals,” Barbara Claypoole of Hingham, has been on permanent status for 20 years.
While fun is a key ingredient to this friendship of 12, longevity has also lent them a distinct bond. They have been together through divorces, through illness and death, through births of children and grandchildren.
Through it all, the friendship has not skipped a beat.
Murphy, who battled cancer last year with the support of her friends, summed it up: “It is a very, very special thing. It really is.”
Patriot Ledger writer Jennifer Mann may be reached at email@example.com