Lasting Friendships through AAUW: Meet the Happy Has Beens by Melva Arditti

What do Los Angeles, Oakland, Sacramento, Missouri, Ohio, and Wisconsin have in common?

This disparate geographical conglomeration produced a group who, via their participation in Sacramento AAUW, evolved into that august institution known as “The Has Beens.”

Not has-beens as in the common usage, such as “been there, done that, got the t-shirt,” but – with apologies to our English professors – we each “has been” an officer of AAUW and will be forever grateful for its nurturing our friendship.

We met, mostly as newlyweds new to Sacramento in the early 1970’s and individually sought out the organization as a way to meet new people and, with luck, keep our brains ticking. Can’t speak to the latter, but the friendships blossomed into a treasured sisterhood that has been through births and deaths, marriages and divorces, children and grandkids. And we each found our eventual careers enhanced by the skills and contacts we gained in AAUW.

Our shared AAUW experiences were the glue that brought us together, but our shared affinity for observing what we call the “Big O’s,” (birthday decade celebrations) has exercised our collective creativity in delightful ways over many years. For example, for the music teacher, we had a formal dinner in the middle of her favorite music store, with musicians serenading us as curious shoppers milled about. For the businesswoman/runner we set up a candelabra feast in the center of the track field at American River College, with – what else? – runners running around us. And for the supervising teacher a 1950’s-style lunchbox picnic in the middle of Alumni Grove at CSUS, featuring a surprise guest (her former student) who we flew up from Los Angeles to recite a poem about her.

Sadly, one member, Kit Mahnke, is now deceased, and another has moved three hours away. However, she has strengthened our connection by gathering us for lunch every few months when she comes to town, and for that we are grateful.

So meet Melva Arditti, Patti Dusel, Cheryl Fuller, Sue Whetstone and Susan Weeks, all of whom are indebted to AAUW for inaugurating their friendship. We wish you all the same good fortune.