They may be old and they may be burned out here and there physically, but the four retired widows who meet daily at Table 12 in Meadow Lakes Retirement Community will be visiting the Estherville Library even if they're only characters a series of successful comedy-mystery novels.
Joy Johnson of Omaha, Neb., author of the series, will appear at the library at 1:30 p.m., Nov. 28. Refreshments will be served along with a lot of laughter. Johnson recognizes the value of public libraries and appeared as a calendar girl in Eastern Nebraska Library Systems Uncensored Librarians calendar for 2011. There are four books in the series: The BOOB Girls: The Burned Out Old Broads at Table 12, BOOB Girls II: Lies, Spies and Cinnamon Rolls, BOOB Girls III: Sandhills and Shadows and BOOB Girls IV: Murder at Meadow Lakes. All have laugh-out-loud components.
"I have a soapbox in the books," Johnson said. "I think older women, the seasoned Nancy Drews in our lives, are beautiful and not just spiritually or emotionally but physically. Just look at us. Our faces are chiseled by tears and laughter. Our hair is blown thin and white by winds of experience and there is so much knowledge and wisdom in our heads they can't hold it all so it trickles down through the rest of our bodies and that's why we get thicker as we age."
One Burned Out Old Broad who is a BOOB Girl fan is comedian Phyllis Diller. Three years ago Johnson received a card. "It had a bright red stiletto on the front and inside it simply said, 'Thank you for writing this delightful book. Phyllis Diller.' Believe me, I checked the address and it was Hollywood. The next morning I wrote to her and asked her to endorse the books. She wrote back right away and said, 'Use these words. The BOOB Girls are the GOOD Girls.' It's on the cover of every book.
Will there be a fifth BOOB Girls adventure?
"Definitely," the author said. "Book V will be The Red Cane and the readers will help choose the plots, the stories and the characters."
Characters in the books are characters indeed. Maggie Patten is a retired rancher from the Nebraska Sandhills, Hadley Joy Morris-Whitfield is a retired socialite, Dr. Robinson Leary a retired black professor and Mary Rose McGill represents mature housewives. New BOOB Girls, including a spy and a gypsy, appear in the books as well as a retired homicide detective named Marge Aaron. "Say it fast and it's margarine so she'd butter be good," Johnson quipped. The comedy-mysteries show us there is life after retirement and laughter can be found, even in widowhood. All the BOOB Girls are both retired and widowed.
The author, a humorist and international speaker, has one wish for her audience is to, "laugh so hard tears run down your leg,"
Prior to writing the series, Johnson co-founded Centering Corporation, North America's oldest and largest bereavement resource center and, along with her husband, Dr. Marvin Johnson, was also founder of Ted E. Bear Hollow, Omaha area's center for grieving children. She was an internationally recognized speaker on grief before writing the novels.
"Laughter is not a defensive mechanism," she says. "It's an offensive mechanism. We can attack our grief and sorrows with a good laugh. And as one of the characters says, 'Laughter is exercise. It's jogging on the inside.'"