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Jill Atwood reportingMost of us are lucky to have one or two close friends that we've kept in touch with since grade school... but tonight you'll meet nine women who bring new meaning to the words friendship and loyalty.
They call themselves the "Nifty Nine", and it all started in Salem, Utah, 73 years ago. It was a time when kids rode horseback to school, and enjoyed long leisurely summer swims in the pond. And at home...life on the farm was hard work, but no one knew any different.
And it was here, Salem Utah, 73 years ago in a much simpler time, that something extraordinary happened.
At first there were just six little girls...
Myrl Warner: "WE PLAYED HOPSCOTH AND JUMP THE ROPE AND MOVIE STARS WE GOT A HOLD OF EACH OTHER AND SHOWED EACH OTHER OUR DOLLS ON CHRISTMAS."
A fews years later three more joined the group.
Long hikes, school dances, and chasing boys brought them close...
Nine girls that would soon grow into young ladies, and lifelong friends.
"WELL...WE'RE DIFFERENT BUT WE'VE ALWAYS BEEN IN LOVE WITH EACH OTHER REALLY..."
The girls graduated from high school in 1941... months later the United States entered World War II. One by one the gang started to split up... between church missions, marriage and the war... the self proclaimed "nifty nine" found themselves spread out all over the country.....
Venice Keele: "MY HUSBAND WAS DRAFTED ABOUT SIX WEEKS AFTER WE WERE MARRIED AND HE WENT TO FORT SMITH ARKANSAS..AND WHEN I COULD I FOLLOWED HIM OUT THERE."
And like many women during that time..these women also kept up the war effort here at home....
Elma Miner-Emery: "YOU'LL NEVER BELIEVE IT BUT I WAS A JUNIOR AIRCRAFT PAINTER..LAUGHS."
A letter, an occassional visit..a phone call...kept them in touch over the years..through life's ups and downs...two of the nine are cancer survivors, three lost children after birth, and five of them are now widows.
Today...amazingly...between them they boast...175 grandchildren, 202 great grandchildren and 9 great great grandchildren.
Elma, Fawn, Margie, Venice and Myrl still live in the area, Della, Evelyn and Pauline live out of state, and Maurine...Myrl's twin sister, passed away three years ago.
Fawn Shell: "HOW MANY GRANDKIDS DO YOU HAVE...ASK VENICE HOW MANY GRANDKIDS I HAVE...HOW MANY GREAT GRANDKIDS DO I HAVE."
The group...now almost all 80 years old....still gets together whenever possible...they reminisce about old times, and exchange new stories about the lastest grandchild.
They are all still remarkably healthy..in fact one or two can still read without glasses.... Perhaps...their longevity is owed to a certain code they still live by.
"HAVE FAITH, SEEK KNOWLEDGE, SAFEGUARD HEATH, HONOR WOMANHOOD, UNDERSTAND BEAUTY, VALUE WORK..TASTE THE SWEETNESS OF SERVICE AND FEEL JOY..CHUCKLES..."
Just one more photo for the scrapbook...one more good-bye hug, one more nifty nine memory to talk about next time.
The gang is still very active in the church, and travels a lot. Venice Keel..is the last of the group to turn 80...that happens in February..and she plans to celebrate that milestone in Hawaii.