Mavis Minahan (pictured) and Joanne Neuman came over as war brides, wives of World War II servicemen stationed in Australia. Jennifer Asher arrived more recently on an airplane, the result of a protracted online romance. She married her correspondent one year from the date of their first e-mail and has been in the Springs now for six years.
Members of the 26-year-old Aussi Kiwi Group of Colorado Springs share different stories of how they wound up so far from home -- what they still call Australia or New Zealand, even for members like Marion Watkins who have lived stateside for 30 years.
"It's like a family for people who are away from home, " said Jude Molloy, daughter of Mavis Minahan, and host of the recent monthly meeting. "We're really just a social club, we don't really do any good."
Molloy's statement was contradicted many times over one recent evening as women from cities like Melbourne, Adelaide, and Christ Church, New Zealand repeatedly stressed how supportive the group has been to them in times of personal crisis like deaths of family members far and near.
Many women found their way to the club merely by opening their mouths. Their accents were detected by a fellow Kiwi (New Zealander) or Australian at the drug store or supermarket, and before they knew it, they were noshing down curried egg sandwiches and Pavlova (a Perth-derived pie of fluffy beaten egg whites and whipped cream) while sharing stories of home.
A few cautionary words to Americans: Lumping Kiwis and Aussies in the same boat is akin to conflating Texans with New Yorkers. In addition, should you ask an Aussi or Kiwi about their countries, please come up with something more original than "Wow, I've always wanted to go there." As founding member Gail Calloway is likely to respond: "Go ahead, there's 14 flights a day."