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Polo Fields friendships stand the test of time in Forsyth County

From left to right: Carl Dickey, Lois Johnson, Tom Akselsen, Evelyn Akselsen, Ernie Quin, Eleanor Griffiths, George Griffiths, Dareena Mead, Erna Clendenning, Bob Clendenning, Lynn Clark,Howard Pier and Marjorie Dickey. (click for larger version)
January 29, 2013
CUMMING, Ga. — People become friends for various reasons. Hobbies, sports and common interests bring people together, but in today's world of busy schedules, it's hard to maintain true, long-term relationships.

Perhaps we can all learn something from this group of friends.

"We've been friends since about 1989," Tom Akselsen said.

The group of friends, all now in their 80s, has had regular Wednesday night dinners together for about 23 years.

(click for larger version)
"We all lived in the same neighborhood, the Polo Fields, and were club members," he said. "We'd play tennis and golf together, and the women also played bridge, and things just went from there."

Akselsen said the group went from a few couples to about 24 people total.

"I've lost count now, and of course, some have passed," he said.

He said the group became so big because they didn't want to exclude anyone who heard them talking about getting together.

"We would all have the Wednesday night buffet at the club, and that eventually branched out into dinners at restaurants," Lois Johnson said.

Each friend brings something different to the group, which may be part of the reason these friendships work.

"We're all from different states, and the men all had different careers," Evelyn Akselsen said.

"Most of them were established in their careers when we met, and were all at an executive level," Johnson said.

Ernie Quin and his wife Jay, both friends of the group since its inception, added additional members to the group, who were welcomed with open arms.

"My mother-in-law lived with us for most of our marriage," he said, "and the group took her in, making her one of their own. That's what we do."

Quin's grandson, Marine Capt. Michael M. Quin, was also a welcomed member of the group.

"We loved Michael," Johnson said. "When he was in town, he would sometimes fly his helicopters over our neighborhood."

Capt. Quin was one of the seven Marines killed in an aviation training accident over Yuma, Ariz. last year.

"Even now, when I hear a helicopter overhead, I think of Mike," Johnson said.

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