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Copyright © 2001 Express Publishing Inc.
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Friendships span 
half century

‘Handkerchief Girls’ remain 
a tightly knit group

Express Staff Writer

Friendship is what family should be, only this time you get to choose.

For instance, 50 years ago in Bexley—a suburb of Columbus, Ohio—a class of 117 graduated from high school. Most of them had been through their entire school years together. Among those who graduated with the Class of 1951 was a tightly knit group of girl friends. Ultimately dubbed the "Handkerchief Girls," they went on trips together, were in each others weddings, were godparents to each others kids and, several years ago, celebrated their joint 60th birthdays by gathering for a slumber party, despite the fact that they live all over the country.

A photo of the original "Handkerchief Girls"
was taken in Bexley, Ohio, in 1951. Barbara Hogan, of Hailey, is first from the left in the third row, in the red sweater.

One of the Handkerchief Girls is Barbara Short Hogan, a co-owner of the Hailey Hotel, who moved to the valley 19 years ago.

A petite and vibrant lady, who spoils her neighbor’s dogs, she’s apt to invite her friend’s children over for the night. And at the heart of Hogan’s life is her attachment to her friends, the Handkerchief Girls.

"Saralee and Janet gave it to Bev for her wedding" right out of high school as the "something new," Hogan said.

Then the handkerchief went through the rounds of all 16 of these gals, as the something borrowed, and then in the second generation, it became the something old.

The "Handkerchief Girls" met in September
at their 50th reunion. Barbara Hogan is second from left in third row, again in a red sweater.

One of the group keeps it in a safety deposit box in their old home town, and whenever it’s used, the bride must sign her name to what is now a long list, going back 50 years.

It’s a remarkable testament to the power of friendship. When they get together, Hogan said, it’s as though no time has past.

This past September, 80 out of the 117 graduates from Bexley High School class of 1951 gathered together. As Hogan points out people in the picture, "that was my first boyfriend, there’s Bev, that man lives on my street now," … and on and on.

Hogan is as proud of her connection to her friends, and their longevity and closeness, as she is of her three sons, who were raised in California and still live there with their growing families.

Hogan offers this suggestion: Young girls should find something that they cherish and share it, it will be the tie that binds.

As for her group of friends, and that ancient yellowing handkerchief carefully stowed in a safety deposit box, she remains in awe. "It’s crazy, I don’t understand how we do that. We just do."

Of course, when pushed, she comes up with a theory, "We love being together. And we forgive each other for our faults." And most importantly, she said, "anything that happens, we’re always thrilled with what the other can do."


The Idaho Mountain Express is distributed free to residents and guests throughout the Sun Valley, Idaho resort area community. Subscribers to the Idaho Mountain Express will read these stories and others in this week's issue.