Dearest Friends wearing matching shirts

13 lifelong childhood friends, the “Dearest Girlfriends,” celebrate their 80th birthdays with a big trip to Stratford, Ontario.

What better way to mark a birthday than by kicking up your heels on an all-girls trip? On Sept. 3, a group of 13 friends did just that, heading to Stratford, Ontario, to celebrate not just any birthday, but their milestone 80th birthday.

What makes this trip extra special for the freshly minted octogenarians is that they’re that unique breed of lifelong childhood friends. In the 1940s, they attended Hampton Elementary School in Detroit together; they graduated from Mumford High school in Detroit in 1957.

All active community members, Penny Blumenstein, Doreen Hermelin, Linda Klein, Bluma Schechter, Judy Rosenberg, Lois Rubin and Margie Krasnick still live in Metro Detroit, while others are flying in to join the festivities from farther afield — Susan Meretsky and Maureen Schwartzberg from Windsor, Ellen Warshaw from Texas, Seema Boesky from New York, Roz Lax from Chicago and Connie Lapin from California.

This is not their first trip together. About 10 years after graduation, Boesky invited her friends to her New York home for a weekend. They had such a wonderful time, they made sure to repeat the experience every 10 years. The friends have gone on memorable hiking, horseback riding and spa trips to Mexico, the Berkshires and Aspen.

“It’s all wonderful,” Krasnick said. “It’s a delightful thing we keep doing; and now here we are at this big birthday and we’re still going. It’s very exciting!”

She pointed out that no friendship can compare to one with someone you’ve known since you were 7 or 8 years old. They’ve been through so much together, shared family celebrations, suffered losses.

The entire group feels very fortunate to have such a vibrant group of childhood friendships. Lax said, “Our time together throughout the years has been a gift … of new stories of the present and fun stories from our past. Time is very special, and this group knows how to celebrate it!”

A week before the scheduled trip, the women were delirious with excitement and prepared for a fantastic time. The itinerary was organized as a labor of love by Schwartzberg, who is an independent travel consultant. While hammering out the details of the trip, she began all her group correspondence with “Dearest Girlfriends,” a sentiment the feisty ladies enjoyed so much, they had matching T-shirts made that read “Dearest Girlfriends” — all in Mumford school colors, of course.

A hired bus took the group to Stratford. On Wednesday, they started off with brunch and a performance of The Front Page at the Festival Theatre, followed by their much-anticipated celebratory birthday dinner at the Bruce Hotel. On Thursday, they enjoyed a theater tour, lunch and dinner reservations and a performance of Billy Elliot.

Every day’s a treat with these women and, still, they’re looking ahead and planning more fun. What’s in the cards for their 90th birthday celebration? Kraznick said, “We’ll be talking about that, for sure. We’ll probably want to go to the moon by then, who knows? My girlfriends and I don’t stop — it’s great!”


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