Since 1948, Evelyn (Hinz) Krenz has been a member of the Cootie Club. Originally a group of farm wives in the East Farmington community, members gathered to play pinochle and share a meal. When the game was done, various prizes were distributed. Then the bountiful meal was served.
What started as an offshoot of Assumption Catholic Church Circle has grown and changed. Members are partnered and host once each year. In earlier generations, some of the men came to eat before chores. Today, offspring of old-time members express fond memories of getting off the bus and coming into a lively house filled with women laughing, talking and having a grand time.
Somewhere along the way, the game changed to Cootie, a silly progressive dice game. The group began calling itself the Cootie Club but the laughter and chatter didn’t change. Sometimes it’s really difficult to get through the 10-round game due to heavy laughter and conversation. There are no rules and regulations, only enjoying each other’s company.
Ev Krenz’s sister-in-law, Bea Hinz, joined in 1945, and like Ev, had also been a member for 71 years at the time of her death in 2016. Emily Hinz, Ev’s mother and Bea’s mother-in-law, belonged before they did. Now Bea’s daughter, Joan Tonnar, is a third generation member.
The club goes way back to Lena (George) Viebrock’s era. And Lena’s three daughters would follow: Lola Murphy, Rose Mielke, and Mildred Handrahan.
Rose’s daughter-in-law, Georgine, has been part of the group for 47 years. Her daughter-in-law, Pam Mielke, has been a member since 2009 and incredibly is a fourth generation participant of the ongoing neighborhood club. Rose’s daughter, Elaine Norlander, was indeed also a member.
Mildred’s daughter-in-law, Sara Handrahan, has been part of the group for 41 years and Margaret, Mildred’s daughter, joined upon moving back to East Farmington when she retired, which makes both Sara and Margaret third generation members.
Gertrude (Paul) Mielke was also a member when her daughter, Kathleen Larson, joined in 1988 to help her mother in her later years. Kathleen remains in the club today.
Mickie and Lori Baillargeon are second and third generation members, respectively, as both Mickie’s mother, Emma Jahnke, and mother-in-law, Danelda Baillargeon, were also long-time members. Emma’s sister, Ann Klink, and her sister-in-law Tilla Potting, had also been participants.
The remainder of the 16 current members are first generation who have been welcomed into the club. They include Laurene Traynor, Celine Mussell, Renee Neumann, Marion Neumann, Diane Newman, Helen Demulling, and Judy Carlson.
Although possibly not a complete list, deceased members include Angie Leisch, Charlotte Demulling and ‘Aunt’ Billie, Edna Bochman, Ethel Brandt, Geri Jahnke, Kathryn Boucher (Lola Murphy’s daughter), Nettie Viebrock, Peggy Hinz, Josie Krenz, and Margaret Brandt…who reportedly always served her delicious hamburger, rice and celery hot dish in a big blue roaster. However, it wasn’t only Margaret who served a yummy meal. For generations, hostesses have put forth their favorite delectable and scrumptious family recipes.
As a transplant to East Farmington upon marriage, this Cootie member cannot imagine living in a finer community than East Farmington (and don’t tell anybody, but she’s not even Catholic).