Same Sweet Girls

The SSGs include Jean Abernathy Gregory and Vicki Brown Dobbs (standing), Rene Reynolds Mason, Myra Cromer Cash, Jane Lamberth Sepanski, Colleen Carlisle Murphy, Ruth Meacham Burgess, Kathy Janney Scott, Alisa Walker Shivers, Jenny Lynn Tankersley Henig, as well as (not pictured) Danice Carlisle, Janet Yates Scott and Nancy Ingle Stansfield

Defying the let’s-always-stay-in-touch odds, 14 women who graduated Alexander City’s Benjamin Russell High School together in 1972 have met at Lake Martin each August since 1993. Email now helps them stay in touch throughout the year, but the reunion weekend is always special. They know they will laugh, reminisce and strengthen the bonds between them when they’re together at the lake. 

The group includes a mechanical engineer that worked on the space shuttle; teachers; a nurse; a CPA; a volunteer dog rescuer; medical personnel; and even a former warden at Bullock Correctional Institute. More important than career success or lifestyle choices made after high school are the childhood memories that only they can share. 

Jenny Lynn Henig hosts the group at her Trillium home, which is named Elk Point. 

“For years, we would take trips to the beach, New Orleans, even a cruise, but once we started coming to my house on Lake Martin, it just felt like this is where we’re supposed to be,” Henig said.

They named themselves the Same Sweet Girls, after the Cassandra King novel by the same name, which includes a Lake Martin character. This year, 12 members of the SSGs made the trip from four different Southeastern states.

They imprint custom T-shirts and koozies with an SSG logo to mark milestone years, and each gathering generates a photo album to document the trips, antics and history of the SSGs and their commitment to the annual reunion.

“We weren’t all friends in high school,” admitted Alisa Shivers, the organizer of the group, “But when we got together at our 20th class reunion, we saw beyond high school cliques and knew we had a special connection. The reunion gives us the opportunity to relive our childhood with people who actually watched each other grow up.”

Some in the group have known each other since kindergarten; others since elementary school. Many of the SSGs attended dance class together taught by Ms. Marie, the mother of group member Colleen Murphy. Some members were college roommates or bridesmaids in each other’s weddings, but all have been together to share the births of children and grandchildren and offer support during family deaths or divorces.

Henig said she is especially grateful to the group because they all remember her father, who tragically died in a car accident when she was only 12 years old. 

The SSG members know they can count on each other, and they all feel a spiritual connection, even though they come from different faith traditions. They support each other with prayers when needed and are bound by trust, exercising confidentiality always. They reminisce about growing up in Alexander City and put together the sequence of events through each member sharing a bit of a memory from long ago.

The reunion weekend has few traditions. One member provides a smoked ham prepared by her husband, and the women count on the baker of the group to bring some homemade treats to share. Other than that, they are just happy being together.

“Lake Martin is the perfect spot to meet because this is where our roots are,” said Murphy.

This year’s gathering included a special toast to Lake Martin and a new T-shirt, as the SSGs turn 65 this year.