In 1952, a group of Jamestown High School seniors decided to start a social club that has kept going strong since its inception.
The group, called Gourmet Girls, has nine members, and four of the original founders are still participating.
According to Carol Gullo, founding member, the social club is more than just a group of friends, they are more like sisters.
Pictured in front from left: Rose Marie Pilato and Angie Ricotta. In back from left: Rose Marie Venable, Linda Calimeri, Brenda Caruso, Carol Gullo, Dianne Calamunci, Geri Gerardi and Jean Carnes.
"We feel we are a very special group, and we are proud of it," said Gullo. "We call ourselves Gourmet Girls because we are all excellent cooks and bakers. We're all there to pitch in when one of the families has a graduation, shower, wedding or a funeral. We go out to dinner for each member's birthday and have an extravagant Christmas party each year that we take turns hosting."
The group has had other members at various points in time, but some have either moved from the area, have passed away or left for personal reasons. However, there were nine original founding members, and there are nine members today; although only four are founders. The founding members include: Rose Marie Pilato, Angie Ricotta, Carol Gullo and Jean Carnes. Other members have since joined including: Rose Marie Venable, Linda Calimeri, Brenda Caruso, Dianne Calamunci and Geri Gerardi.
One reason that the social club was formed is that three founding members had fiancees who had been drafted to serve in the Korean conflict and were about to leave for boot camp.
"I think that we're just so extraordinary that you don't find this often, and I feel very fortunate that we all had each other."
Gourmet Girls founding member
"I think that we're just so extraordinary that you don't find this often, and I feel very fortunate that we all had each other," said Gullo. "There are a lot of groups from our generation that had clubs like ours. But, we have daughters now, and I'd recommend a group like this to them and anyone else, but it just doesn't seem like it happens anymore."
"What I think is spectacular is that we've gone from high school, to engagements, weddings, grandkids and eventually their graduations," added Pilato. "It was always something for us to look forward to. Because none of us worked, we were stay at home mothers. It gave us something to occupy our minds. We loved it."
The group started out meeting every two weeks and every time they were holding a celebration all their husbands would either hide in one room or go out on their own. But, when they came back, they always wanted to eat some of the food that was left over.
"Whatever doings we had they were right there along with us," said Ricotta. "But, when we had club they'd go out, then come back and eat all the good stuff because we are all good cooks and we all had our specialty. We don't open a can to eat. That's why we're called the gourmet girls."
The club also volunteered and made donations in various capacities. For instance, they participated in several years of the "Coats For Christmas" campaign that was sponsored by Anderson Cleaners, The Post-Journal, and WKSN radio and in the "Bundle-Them-Up" program, which was sponsored by The Salvation Army, the Greater Jamestown A.M. Rotary Club, Anderson Cleaners and The Post-Journal. They purchased a television for a boy who had become bed-ridden after a swimming accident. And, most recently, when one of the members of their group became ill, they pooled money together to purchase her family a Thanksgiving dinner.
"Every one of the girls in the group is beautiful in my eyes," said Ricotta. "Everybody is wonderful, and we all get along. When something tragic happens we're all there to make each other feel that life is worth living. Together we've been through the sad times and the happy times. These are not only my friends but my sisters too."
According to Gullo, the group holds an interesting coincidence in that the majority of the members have twins within their family. Pilato and Ricotta have twin grandmothers, Gullo has twin daughters, Calamunci has twin granddaughters and Gerardi has twin sons.