Every week, The Friendship Files features a conversation between The Atlantic’s Julie Beck and two or more friends, exploring the history and significance of their relationship.
This week she talks with a group of women who all picked up the ukulele after they retired. They’ve formed a four-piece band called the Shenanigans, and an unexpected new late-in-life friendship. Just before putting on a show for a group of children at their local library, they tuned their ukuleles and discussed their flashy performance style, how retired women are expected to be “invisible,” and the joy they get from being silly together.
Cyndi Buckles, 75, a retired secretary who lives in Des Plaines, Illinois
Dianne Rogal, 72, a retired government administrator who lives in Des Plaines
Linda Trytek, 66, a retired preschool teacher who lives in Deerfield, Illinois
Carol Wiemer, 77, a retired nurse who lives in Northbrook, Illinois
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.
Julie Beck: How did you all get into playing the ukulele?
Linda Trytek: I was looking for something fun to do in retirement. I was going to miss the nice group of people that I worked with and despaired at finding another group as fun. The Hummers and Strummers, which is a 20-piece ukulele group here in Deerfield, played at my school every year, so I said, “I’m going to come join you,” and seven years ago I did. That’s where I met Dianne and Carol.