Those wonderful ladies of 1939 celebrate again

By Cecilia Nasmith


As a relentless succession of landmark birthdays led Alma Draper toward her 70th, the Cobourg resident made the bold decision to embrace the inevitable - and celebrate the occasion with joie de vivre.

Not to mention a slew of contemporaries.

That was in 2009. Draper put out a call for all Northumberland ladies who shared that remarkable birth year of 1939 to come together for one big blow-out celebration. By the time of the big day, she was hostess to 81 women who could share similar memories of war-time shortages, the sock hops of the Fabulous 1950s, the freedoms that came about in the Swinging 1960s and so much more.

Draper decided to hold a repeat celebration five years later, in 2014, and hosted 98 ladies for a big 75th-birthday party.

For 2019, Draper is doing it again. Time to celebrate the big 8-0!

And coincidentally, that's about where the number of tickets sold to date stand, she confirmed.

Though Draper had the original brainstorm, she has assembled a reliable and winning team to help her, including Roma Colbert.

Colbert has attended both previous celebrations, and was delighted to have the opportunity to help make the 2019 one happen.

Among Colbert's gifts, Draper said, is her winning way of approaching local businesses to help with the prizes, and she has come away with a real treasure trove.

The list includes six individual tickets to selections from September's Vintage Film Festival, rose-bush table centrepieces from Pineridge Nurseries, a $90 gift certificate from All Creatures Great and Small, a $75 gift certificate from Cobourg Paint and Paper, a $25 gift certificate from In Harmony Day Spa, two $20 gift certificates from the new downtown local-foods mecca Market and Smor, two gift sets from Shoppers Drug Mart, a Twice As Nice gift certificate, two oil-change-and-lube gift certificates from Cobourg Honda, a Northumberland Film Sundays fall pass, and a Capitol Theatre voucher for two tickets to an August performance of Million Dollar Quartet.

There are also donations from individual 39ers, like the umbrella Colbert contributed and a beautiful painting of white and purple trilliums by Loty Hlapcic.

The lunch-and-entertainment format has proven a winning combination, and a June 18 date at the Best Western Plus Inn and Convention Centre is planned, starting at noon.

The entertainment was tap dancing in 2009 and a lively musical combo in 2014. For 2019, Draper said, those in attendance will enjoy music by the Joyful Noise group.

Draper and her crew actually began last June to organize for this year, making those first contacts with previous attendees to invite them back. With the most part, they are delighted at the news of another party. Draper recall the e-mail she got from Florida from a lady who asked to have a ticket saved for her as she wouldn't be back until May.

Greetings on behalf of the town will be delivered by Councillor Nicole Beatty, who had expressed a wish she could be part of the guest list. This is a complaint the organizers hear from local men born in 1939 (with a few of them threatening to come in drag so they can enjoy the party too).

At this point, it's something of a reunion as well as a celebration, with ladies discovering they have more in common than they imagined and looking forward to renewing acquaintances.

Draper had something of the sort happen to her, when she encountered another lady who, like herself, originally came from London, England. Enquiring further, she discovered they had attended the same school, even though they had never met before her Cobourg party.

The guest list is open until May 25, by which time all tickets must be reserved. They are $35 each, available through Draper (905-372-5839), Betty Anne Wass (905-372-5682) and Roma Colbert (905-269-8215).

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