Judy, Diane, Colleen, Jane, Jean, Kendra, Marcia and Marty, eight friends who graduated from West Lafayette High School in Indiana in 1962, come together via Zoom every month. Now scattered across the country from California to Florida, North Carolina to Wisconsin to Indiana, staying connected is important to them. But Zoom is far from their only strategy.
Since the year they collectively turned 50, the self-titled “1962 Gals” have been traveling together every two years. It wasn’t until a few years ago, however, that the monthly Zoom chats began. “We really have our friend Lilly to thank for this monthly gift,” says Jean. “We began these regular communications a few years ago when she was terminally ill. She wanted everyone together, and we’ve been doing it in her honor ever since.”
“It’s an absolute delight to make these connections again,” says Colleen. “When we’re together, it’s like no time has passed. We have a shared history, and we pick up right where we left off. I look at everyone and I see my friends from the ‘60s. It’s not until I see our high school photos that I realize we’ve even changed.”
The group has traveled all over the U.S. and beyond, but took their first Road Scholar adventure in 2019, the year they all turned 75. “We did New York City, the Best of Theater program, and boy, we really did New York!” Diane laughs. “We know we’re capable of organizing travel and an itinerary, but we chose Road Scholar because we didn’t have the bandwidth at the time, and it wasn’t fair for one person to carry the whole load,” she explains. “It was such a good decision! I had never traveled with Road Scholar before, but my parents had, and I only ever heard good things.”
In fact, almost everyone in the group had parents or friends who had traveled with Road Scholar before, and a few members have been on several programs themselves. “It was everything I had heard and more,” says Diane. “We had an absolute blast.
“This is a really, really good way to learn through travel,” adds Jean. “We’ve done a lot and been to a lot of places together, but you do get to the point you want someone else to do the arranging for you. This is my fifth Road Scholar program, and I know what to expect. Like everyone else, I can’t wait to get the catalogs and figure out where to go next.”
In fact, they had great fun perusing a Road Scholar catalog, choosing a program that was the right length at the right time of year and a place they all wanted to go. “New York City excited the whole group,” Diane says.
“We arranged to arrive a day ahead of the program, just in case of delays and to spend time together,” says Colleen. “We had a ball, and we have some great photos!”
It was the ideal way to ground themselves together before beginning their week on Broadway. “Our group leader was incredible,” Judy says. “And so much substance was packed into every day! It was beyond what I expected.” The lectures were a hit, and Dan Eagan, the expert instructor on the program was, as Judy puts it, an absolute standout! “Everything you hear about Road Scholar is true,” she continues. “Even as part of the larger group, everyone felt included; it really felt like we all belonged together.”
“We were so lucky with the shows we saw,” says Kendra. “Hadestown and To Kill a Mockingbird were two shows everyone was talking about that year.”
It’s due to the success of that first Road Scholar adventure that they’re planning their second one, Mackinac Island in the summer of 2024 to celebrate the group’s 80th birthday year.
“I happened to have a Road Scholar brochure when we were tossing ideas around,” says Diane. “We’re all originally from the Midwest, though we live all over now, so I suggested Michigan and everyone was game.”
The location is a homecoming for some of the group, a few of whom are going to tack on extra days to see family and friends.
“Just the fact that we’re doing this makes me feel good about turning eighty,” says Colleen. “We might stagger a bit — ‘That’s the wine!’” someone interjects, and they all laugh. “But we’re lifelong learners. We’re not afraid of new things.” With Kendra’s birthday falling on the first day of their program, the group has even more to celebrate.
“It takes a long time to make an old friend,” says Jean. “Some of us have known each other for 75 years. We don’t have many secrets. We’ve grown together, we’ve gone through joys and tragedies and all the changes that come in life as individuals age, move into retirement communities or assisted living facilities, downsize and reinvent ourselves in new surroundings, even becoming leaders in those communities. We’re going through these stages of life together, and there’s great comfort in that. We knew each other’s parents and siblings, have celebrated additions and felt the loss of loved ones together. There’s a depth to our relationships because of that shared history.”
Diane agrees. “All we want to do is be together,” she says.
Interested in finding new ways to connect with your group of friends? Explore how to travel with your group on a private or partially private group program with Road Scholar.