TIM SMITH/BRANDON SUN
The Met girls — Shirley Gray, Simone Desaulniers, Polly Fairbairn, Loretta Seymour and Gladys Henson — enjoy coffee and conversation at the Forbidden Flavours in The Town Centre on Thursday afternoon. They have been meeting for coffee every week for more than 25 years.
Through good times and bad, a true friend stays by your side. They are there to offer sound advice, share in your achievements and support you through times of grief.
It takes effort to maintain that close bond, something five Brandon women, known as the Met girls, have made a priority over the past 25 years.
Every week since 1988, Simone Desaulniers, Loretta Seymour, Gladys Henson, Shirley Gray and Polly Fairbairn have made it a tradition to meet for coffee.
"I really treasure every one of these women," said Henson, 69. "They’re just unbelievably good friends."
All five women first met when they worked at the Metropolitan department store, which was located on the 800-block of Rosser Avenue in downtown Brandon. It was closed in 1988 and eventually torn down to make way for The Gallery, which is now The Town Centre.
Henson and Seymour, 72, have a friendship that dates back more than 50 years, as they both began working at the store in 1959.
"It was better back then than nowadays," Seymour said. "A lot of people work together now and a lot of times they don’t even talk to one another … they just go their own way. Today it’s different."
The Brandon Sun caught up with the Met girls on Thursday at The Town Centre, where they meet weekly at Forbidden Flavours.
The women reminisced about the good old days and talked about how much things have changed over the decades.
"It was so busy downtown," Seymour said.
The women remembered a bustling downtown and all agreed it’s unfortunate the vibrancy didn’t last.
Fairbairn, 94, worked at the Met from the early 1970s until it closed in 1988. Desaulniers, 75, worked in the ladies wear department from 1980 to 1988.
The Metropolitan was a large store that offered women’s and men’s clothing, toys, hardware and had a lunch counter.
"We were almost like a family in the store," said Gray, 80, who worked at the Met from 1975 to 1988. "It was good. We did our own inventory, not like now — they do it all with the computers."
The women look forward to their weekly meeting and have become a big part of each other’s lives.
"We’ve all been through a lot of trials and it’s nice to know we can talk about it here," Gray said. "I lost my husband five years ago, and if these girls weren’t here, I don’t know what I’d do."
The women have become a fixture at Forbidden Flavours and even have their own reserved table on Thursday afternoons. At one point the group was larger, but some women have moved away or passed on.
Last month marked the 25th anniversary of the coffee group meeting and the women plan to continue with the long-standing tradition.
Seymour said friendships like these are "what keeps you going."
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition March 1, 2013