If you live around Saddle Mountain Road in East Rome, you may have noticed a group of women and a couple men walking down the road around 7:30 a.m. every day.
The group has changed over the years, but the two constants have been Anita Smith and Barbara Allen — they like to jokingly call themselves “the Saddle Mountain Street Walkers.”
They met after Smith moved to the neighborhood with her husband, Stuart Smith, from Kansas in 1971. They began walking around 38 years ago and have formed a group of their own ever since.
Now, the Smiths are moving to the Spires at Berry College after almost 50 years of living in Saddle Mountain.
“When we started walking, our daughters were in high school. Now they’re in their fifties,” Allen said.
The group doesn’t like to think of themselves as very serious walkers and they spend most of the time talking, usually about their personal lives. Smith’s husband joined the group around 2000 to get in shape for a trip. He said he gets all of his news in the morning while “walking with the girls.”
“He got in shape and never left us,” Smith said.
Other members of the walking group include Helen Paracka and Nancy Ivester. Paracka’s husband, Dan Paracka, later joined the group to help her walk after she developed some health issues.
Ivester moved to North Rome a few years ago, but still tries to make it to the daily walks as much as possible. Neighbor Denise Brown also likes to tag along.
Weather is rarely a deterrent for the ladies, who will walk in temperatures anywhere above 20 degrees. They also often find themselves walking in rain and snow.
The group has supported each other through major life events, such as weddings, graduations and deaths, according to Smith. Some of the original members of the walking group have already passed on and are dearly missed.
“It’s nice to have a shoulder to lean or cry on,” Smith said.
While the Smiths aren’t moving for a while, the walking group organized a sendoff early Monday morning, with juice, coffee and blueberry muffins from Sweet Bar.
However, Anita Smith said they’ll definitely be back every now and then to walk the streets of Saddle Mountain.