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Birthday club celebrates anniversary

By Ed Brock

Just over 50 years ago they were young housewives living on the same street in Forest Park who came together to celebrate the birthday of one of them.

After that one party the group of about a dozen decided to come together for each one's birthday.

"They did not have any idea that 50 years later they would still be together as a seasoned support group," said Elaine Rivers, daughter of "birthday club" member Mary "Tootsie" Callaway,

The club's regular meetings began with the celebration of Miriam C. Stanfield, who at the time was turning 28. At that time they all lived on Woodland Way, a neighborhood of young families, and were the wives of a future judge, a real estate developer and Georgia Sen. Terrell Starr. Along with Callaway and Stanfield the original group consisted of Ginny Cox, Joy Huie, Barbara Noon, Evelyn Foster, Francis Stroud and Allene Purvis. One other original member, Anne Gaunltey, stopped attending several years ago after moving away.

Celeste Starr, Barbara Gunter, Lilla Coggin and Marilyn Cox joined later. Starr said she joined after Stroud kept asking her to come as a guest.

"Finally she said well, you may as well join," Starr said.

Rivers said that one only has to picture actress Lucille Ball in her petticoat dress and high heels to get a picture of the attire during those early gatherings.

"Hats and gloves completed the outfit if the party went downtown," Rivers said.

On Tuesday they came together again for Stanfield's birthday, but since Stanfield has never forgiven her for releasing her age to the newspapers after that first party Callaway said she would not reveal it now.

Almost all of the original 12 were there at Pinehurst Tea Room in Stockbridge. One of them, Foster who was the wife of deceased Judge E.A. Foster, died about three years ago and Cox who lives in Woodstock couldn't make the party on Tuesday.

"It's great," Stanfield said. "This is a great group, a great band of women and we stand together."

Like Tuesday, sometimes a member misses a party. And sometimes, said Stroud, everybody attends except, as in her case, the birthday girl herself is not invited.

But for the most part they have gotten together, sometimes at one member's house and other times at restaurants like Pinehurst, for each member's birthday.

"After I moved 325 miles away I still came back for these birthdays," said Noon of Hampton who lived in South Carolina for a while.

Though Callaway now lives in Fulton County, Stroud says she is the glue that binds the group together.

"Tootsie makes the effort to bring us together," Stroud said.