Friends for life, and tea

The teapot was full of hot herbal tea, but the weather made the sweating pitcher of Arnold Palmers more inviting. An immaculate lemon tart, sinful-looking chocolate French silk pie and homemade whipped cream stood at the ready as the eight ladies sat around the Dover Shores living room chatting.

The day was like most of their Monday afternoons.

"We get together here once a week — 31 years of tea," said Patricia Dawson, who always hosts. "It's just great. We've gone through so much together."

The Newport Beach women — long known as the Walkie Talkies, although no one remembers why — have stayed together through the rituals of tea and walking. They have seen each other through the good and through tragedies, and weathered the change of time without losing their foundation: friendship.

"It means everything to me to see everyone every week," said Carlann da Silva. "It's almost like group therapy."

Walking brought the women together in 1981, when they were all neighbors. Rain, or shine, about 6:30 a.m. Monday through Friday, the women briskly walk around Dover Shores with Ann Attlesey's late dog Bosley, their mascot of sorts.

Dawson, da Silva, Attlesey, Hedda Morosi, Fran Deans, Coead Kenny, Judy Swedlund, Barbara Glabman and former member Ginny Frova, now in their late 70s and early 80s, first caught the community's attention in February 1987 when they were featured in the Daily Pilot's style section.

Back then, the women shared their secret bargain shopping locations, gave out movie recommendations and offered restaurant reviews. They discussed their children going off to college or getting married. They helped each other quit smoking.

The ladies still walk, just in smaller groups. The Monday ritual of teatogether is still honored.

"I wouldn't miss it for the world," Kenny said.

While much is the same for the Walkie Talkies, time hasn't stood still.

They now discuss the goings-on of grandchildren, even bringing them in tow. The ladies dole out reviews and recommendations, but also go to the group's three nurses for advice, Swedlund said.

"If you have a problem, there is always someone with an answer," Kenny said.

As the years have passed, the friends helped each other deal with losing husbands, and even children. The group has been through a lot together, Morosi said.

"We help each other get through," da Silva said.

Through the years, the group only lost one member, Frova, who moved out of state. It's a common refrain from the women for others to say they wish they had a group of friends like the Walkie Talkies, Dawson said.

The women themselves aren't oblivious to what a special relationship they have.

"I think we're so lucky to have it," Morosi said. "It's really just a lovely life experience. We're all so different. I don't think we'd be friends without this."

Twitter: @britneyjbarnes

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