Dale Larabee | Larabee Laments
I spent my first week as a college freshman in “rush week.” This is a wine-and-dine affair when fraternities went looking for pledges to become “brothers” and sororities for “sisters.” It was a heady experience until you pledged and learned you were in for six months of serfdom.
Kensington is like many communities in Uptown for we have a host of organizations looking for members. Ken-Tal, probably our oldest, for service and education. Garden Club and Sidewalk Gardens (beautification), Litter Pickers (trash), Planning (development recommendations), KSAC (holiday weekend, wreaths and lights), Talmadge Sisters (all-women social, service) plus others I will probably get in trouble for not mentioning.
The newest kid on the block is Ken Men, a men’s only group created by Doug Cooper in February. Ken Men is a “buddy group” formed to make new friends and do service projects when needed. Cooper told me his best friend lives in Chicago and, if lucky, they get together once a year. Cooper needed new male friends and figured his neighborhood was the best place to look.
“I was just coming home from work, eating dinner, some wine with Lorraine, TV and bed. Then get up and do it again,” Cooper said.
So he entered local chat rooms and put out a call for some guys.
“We now are 20 strong,” Cooper continued. “And [we] meet once a month for a couple of hours at different member’s houses to share pizza and libations.”
The group has no rules, no elections, no dues, no politics and no formal agenda. I asked Cooper what they did.
“Our best outing so far was a pub crawl,” he said. “We started at The Vine wine bar and moved west. We hit the Village Vino and then the hard-core group ended up at the Ken Club. We started with 14 and dropped a few at each stop. Honey-dos, probably.”
The men went to a Padres Game and a clean-up of the Route 15 entrance ramp. A core group meets every Saturday morning for breakfast. On the table are cooking demos, Ping-Pong tournaments, other “guy things,” and a gun range visit to learn how to safely handle firearms.
“I’ve never shot a gun,” Cooper confided.
Ken Men will serve when called. Shawn Murphy, a newly promoted Navy Captain, told me he learned of two homes in need of makeovers. His recognizance showed a house of Sussex was the better candidate.
“We like to put in 2 hours on a Saturday,” Murphy said.
The elderly owner was told what the Ken Men planned to do and said, “I don’t want a bunch of men around here.”
Guy Hanford of Kensington Video knew the owner; he and Murphy calmed her down. The group cleared an overgrown front yard and made progress on the back.
“We’ll finish it,” Murphy told me.
How long will the Ken Men be around? Anyone’s guess. The Talmadge Sisters, the women-only group mentioned earlier, was Cooper’s inspiration for starting Ken Men, is eight years old and going strong. Cooper’s wife Lorraine is a card-carrying Sister and has made a ton of new friends.
“We are all about friendship and having fun to keep the Ken Men alive and growing,” Cooper said.
Anyone interested in attending a Ken Men meeting or with a make-over project can contact the group by calling Doug Cooper at 619-726-4444.