Robin Washington column: I never met a Lois I didn’t like — or 28 of themIt was hard to resist shouting out “Hi, Lois!” in the lakeside dining room at the Pickwick the other day. Especially since that’s what all 28 of the ladies were calling each other — except one, who, at 3 months, hasn’t quite gotten the hang of pronouncing understandable words yet.
It was hard to resist shouting out “Hi, Lois!” in the lakeside dining room at the Pickwick the other day.
Especially since that’s what all 28 of the ladies were calling each other — except one, who, at 3 months, hasn’t quite gotten the hang of pronouncing understandable words yet.
Nicole Johnson spoke for her.
“I am the mom of Lois. I’m lucky to be here. She’s the guest of honor,” said Johnson, who journeyed from Tower with little Lois and her twin sister, Fiona.
“My grandmother’s name was Lois,” Johnson continued, “so when I found out I was having twin girls, I decided one of them was going to be Lois. She was my favorite grandmother.”
“Grandmother” was the operative word at Tuesday’s lunch, with most at the gathering of Northland Loises easily fitting into the category. That’s why they were so excited about Baby Lois.
“You rarely run into anybody with that name anymore,” said Lois Bester, one of the local Loises who started meeting in the mid-1990s, following the founding of the first Lois Club in St. Paul in 1979.
Although Johnson said her grandmother had been a member of the St. Paul club, she said she knew little about the local group — until the fuss started in St. Luke’s maternity ward.
“All the nurses couldn’t stop talking about the nurse named Lois. She had waited 35 years for a baby named Lois,” Johnson said.
Lois Teich picked up the story.
“For 35 and a half years I worked in OB, and there’s never been a baby named Lois until finally little Lois was born,” Teich said. “I had doctors campaigning for me to try to get some of their patients to name a baby Lois. It got to be a joke around there.”
Teich came in on a day off just to meet the new Lois and invited her family to the club.
Confirming the scarcity of Loises are rankings kept by the Social Security Administration based on Census records between 1880 and 2000. The 192nd most popular name for girls in the 1880s, it reached 22nd place by the 1920s and 21st the next decade, coinciding with Lois Lane’s debut in the first Superman comic book.
But it fell to 49 in the ’40s and 117 in the ’50s (when Hi’s wife, on page 3 of our comics section today, first appeared), and hasn’t cracked the top 200 since.
Two Harbors may be an exception.
“At one time when I first started in this club, there were 15 more Loises in Two Harbors,” said Lois Pelto, counting among them my favorite Lois, retired Lake County News-Chronicle colleague Lois Lundberg, who like the others except Pelto, never joined.
“No, she was always busy,” Pelto said, adding: “Wonderful person.”
Indeed, and it supports the club motto: “I never met a Lois I didn’t like.”
And that pretty much explains why they’re here, in case you’re wondering what ties these women together beyond their name.
“We ruled out having officers, committees and dues,” the national Loisclubs.com website states — confirmed by lunch organizer Lois Fichtner when I asked if she was the club’s president. “There would also be no business solicitations or political statements,” the website continues.
Rather, their reason for getting together is the most basic of all — because they want to. Or as Lois Janson put it: “I love to come to lunch, and I love the Lois Club because they’re a bunch of wonderful ladies.”
And a beautiful baby, too.
Robin Washington, who once started a Robin Club, is editor of the News Tribune. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.