by CLIFF AND NANCY HILL
Last Friday evening we had just settled down for a quiet evening of reading. Around 8:30 the phone rang and a guy named Larry tipped us off to a loud and boisterous party going on in a residence in Rockford. Thinking there might be a story here, we headed out to check it out.
Pulling into the driveway of the address given, we found ourselves at Grandma’s House, the bed and breakfast owned and operated by Rockford Mayor Janice “Chi Chi” Rogers and her husband Larry. (Yes, he was the caller!) We could hear loud laughter coming through the walls.
Thinking it might not be politically correct for us to be there, we were just about to leave when the front door flew open and Chi Chi beckoned us in. We quickly found out Chi Chi was hosting a pajama party, of all things, for four of her closest friends. Now here’s the best part: they weren’t just any women—they were the mayors or mayors pro-tem of Cedar Springs, Rockford, Walker and Wyoming.
The lady mayors had met earlier for dinner at Rockford’s Reds on the River, where, we were told by the others, Chi Chi had “worked the room” like the consummate politician she is. After dinner, the get-together moved to Grandma’s House for a first-ever sleepover. These twice-annual get-togethers had usually been dinner out and good conversation. This year was different, because Mayor Carol Sheets of Wyoming and Mayor Linda Hunt of Cedar Springs were both retiring from political office after many years of distinguished public service. So the idea of a pj party in celebration was hatched. Other than the two retirees, and along with Chi Chi, mayors pro-tem Pat Capek of Cedar Springs and Barbara Holt of Walker were part of this tight group.
Obviously this is a close group of friends who over the years have developed a strong personal and professional relationship as a result of a common shared interest in city governance. They are dedicated and talented women and extremely proud of their combined 89 years of public service.
With a self-deprecating sense of humor, the ladies described themselves as “old broads.” They were seated around the dining room table in the evening’s designated attire. In evening attire from t-shirt tops and “red flannel” pajama bottoms to satin lounging pajamas, they were a sight to behold and immensely enjoying themselves.
Yes, they were talking politics and for that matter anything that struck their fancy. No subject was off the table. Your reporters would love to report on what we heard that night, but we were sworn to secrecy and told everything uttered was “off the record.” (It was priceless stuff!)
We spent a couple of hours doubled over in laughter while enjoying a libation or two, took a group picture, and bid our adieus.
As we left, we asked “First Husband Larry” what his plans were for the evening. He replied, “I’m out of here,” and so were we. Party on, ladies!
(P.S. As we left, Chi Chi whispered to us she was sure Larry would return the following morning as he would never miss the “famous” Grandma’s House breakfast.)