YaYa Sisterhood gets its kicks on Route 66

Courtesy of Caroline Todd

Mary Husemoller offers a welcoming cocktail to guests at the YaYa Sisterhood Luncheon, a fundraiser for Durango Friends of the Arts, which was held at the home of Marian Pierce. The theme of the party was Route 66, and Pierce’s home was decorated with a wide variety of memorabilia from the years the famed highway served as the coolest route from Chicago to Santa Monica, Calif.

From the moment guests turned into Marian Pierce’s driveway to their final farewells, there was no doubt their hostesses at the fourth annual YaYa Sisterhood Luncheon were committed to the theme of U.S. Route 66, the legendary highway from Chicago to Santa Monica, Calif.

For those of my readers who don’t read so-called “chick lit” or can’t remember what I’ve written about this group before, the event, and the women who attended it, are named in honor of Rebecca Wells’ book Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood. It celebrates the bonds between mothers and daughters and those among female friends.

Before I go another paragraph, I need to name the hostesses with the mostest, because this luncheon could have been a Hollywood production. In addition to Pierce, they were Chairwoman Cindy Cortese, Susie Ammann, Carol Treat, Mary Husemoller, Buff Rogers, Karren Little, Penny Youngflesh, Chris Erikson and Teresa Lashley. While Kristi Nelson Cohen wasn’t an official hostess, she earned YaYa Extraordinaire kudos for her tireless efforts in helping with the decorating and putting everything to rights afterward.

At the turn to the Pierce home, a sign from the famous Jack Rabbit Trading Post in Joseph City, Ariz., informed guests they were at the right place, and a series of hot-pink signs down the driveway invited attendees to Get ... Your Kicks ... On ... Route 66. While the inside of the home was a man-free zone during the luncheon, Dennis Pierce and Ted Erikson handled parking duties for the 66 guests. (All the husbands had “honey do” lists, with Dan Ammann helping put together the fun commemorative cookbook with his wife, Susie.)

One step into the house, and the welcome cocktail, which Rogers creates every year, was in our hands. This year’s refresher, dubbed “The Roadrunner,” included Lillet Blanc, a French aperitif, grapefruit juice, simple syrup and champagne, served with sprigs of rosemary. It was delish.

What is a critical component on a road trip? Junk food, of course. Staying on theme, appetizers included Fritos and ruffled potato chips with onion dip and little pimento cheese sandwiches.

Lunch, prepared by Husemoller and Rogers, was amped-up diner food, including a meatloaf sandwich topped with an onion ring, coleslaw and macaroni and cheese. Treat baked a storm of pies, including slices of apple pie with a top crust or “Eve with a lid on” in diner speak, all available à la mode.

(Treat and her husband, Gary, once again donated the wine, which is no small gift for a group this size.)

Erikson and Youngflesh created several darling two-sided aprons that were for sale by bidding on diner order pads, and the sales drove the amount raised to more than $5,200, 100 percent of which goes into the Friends of the Arts’ Grants Fund. Patterns included a Western law theme with badges, one with old-fashioned campers, another with malts and milkshakes and a very popular shoe pattern.

Everyone’s first reaction was to catch up with old friends and check out the costumes, which were encouraged but not required. I have to admit I was quite impressed with my own cleverness – I went as a hitchhiker complete with baseball cap, backpack and cardboard destination placard, but Penny Haney was super as a souvenir store. Other women reflected different eras of Route 66 glory, with many focusing on the 1950s, when it was in its heyday.

Guests needed a lot of time just to walk around and check out the decorations. Holy cow! Who knew there was that much Route 66 memorabilia in the world? Pierce has a significant collection of her own, not to mention a whole room dedicated to the era with photos of classic cars on the walls and a jukebox to provide a soundtrack. Her cohorts on the decorating crew were Lashley and Youngflesh, who added collections of their own, and Erikson, a longtime DFA member who now lives in Chandler, Ariz., who returned to help with the party.

The table setup was ingenious, with the farthermost table dedicated to the first leg of Route 66 in Illinois, and each table going on down the road, each chock full of souvenirs and representations from that part of the route set on a table runner that looked like a blacktop highway. Oklahoma got two tables, since it’s the longest stretch. The end of the line, so to speak, was the Santa Monica Pier, complete with sandy beach and surf shop. Way cool.

In its previous incarnations, the YaYa Sisterhood Luncheon ended with a small ceremony to recite the creed, with the downside that afterward, everyone felt like it was time to leave. This year, the ladies switched it around and had the ceremony first, which was a great solution. With tongue-in-cheek solemnity, guests and hostesses agreed that “The YaYa Sisters are thankful there aren’t any TSA agents on Route 66,” and “The YaYa Sisters would rather enjoy the wind through their hair than care about having a bad hair day.” (Although Haney wouldn’t swear to the latter.)

I can’t begin to do it justice, but a marvelous time was indeed had by all as we left in our fabulous braided coronets, the traditional “Crown for a Day.”

Next up in the DFA fundraising world is the second annual Artist Market, which will be held from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. June 22 at the perfect summer venue, Santa Rita Park. There is still space for artists, and applications are available at Karyn Gabaldon Fine Arts, at www.durangofriends.org or by emailing Chairwoman JoAnn Trimberger at joanntrimberger@hotmail.com. Spaces are free, but artists are asked to donate a portion of their proceeds to Friends of the Arts, which supports local artists and arts organizations, including a number of programs for children.

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May flowers are blooming for the birthdays of Jamie Nelson, Steve Parker, Darlene Cheesewright, Sandy Beebe, Tom Everette, Chris Larson, Clarice Huckins, Hillary Wolfe, Sherri Libby, Carl Hotter, Rollie Roth, Rinda Slack, Ann Norris, David Kidd, Collin Jackson, Deon Mertz, Nick Skahill, Frank Anesi, Kim Buffalo, Jerry Hanes, McKenzie James, Phyllis Tucker, James Zink, Makayla Safran, Isabell Walt, Asher Smith, Megan Reid, Brandon Rolph, Cora Landgren, William Crouch, Christopher Larson and Donnie Wince.

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Get-well wishes go out to Jean Kuss, who underwent double-bypass heart surgery Monday.

The surgery went well, but, as anyone who’s been through major surgery knows, healing takes time and can be frustrating on occasion.

Her daughter-in-law, Janet Kuss, said the patient would greatly appreciate cards from friends. Send them to Jean Kuss, 10420A West Fair, Littleton, CO 80127; or drop her an email at jeankuss09@gmail.com.

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Nothing says happy anniversary like red roses and champagne for these couples – Bill and Jan Postler, Fred and Fran Rusk, Harry and Lynn Bell, Benjamin and Claudia Root, Jim and Ann Ruetschle, John and Jenny Hill, Randy Bondow and Dianne Milarch, Kevin Jones and Donna Suggs, Mike and Mandy Gardner, Marjorie Cornwell and John Waters, Ron and Mary Knowles and Ernie and Ruth Shock.

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Here’s how to reach me: neighbors@durangoherald.com; phone 375-4584; mail items to the Herald; or drop them off at the front desk. Please include contact names and phone numbers for all items.

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