Nothing unites a group of women like a collective sense of fear. For the senior residents of 40 Woodland, the source of discomfort came from their decaying bathroom.
“The floor was soft and squishy. We were pretty sure we might die,” said Emily Selhorst Kremer ’04, who lived in the house in 2003.
Evidently, the University also recognized the apparent danger. The bathroom was completely renovated, and it eventually became a hub for Kremer and her three housemates — Jen Martinez Rataj ’04, Michelle Swift Perry ’04 and Melissa Lovesky Schafer ’04.
Schafer described how the four of them would squeeze into the bathroom just to enjoy the warmth of the small space heater.
“Between two and four of us would crawl into this bathroom, and we would just sit there and talk and be warm,” Schafer said. “I have a lot of memories of sitting on the floor in the bathroom.”
40 Woodland was commonly referred to as the “40 Oz. House.” Previous residents had spelled out the nickname on the frame of the front door in mailbox letters. According to Kremer, most people instantly knew where she lived as soon as she mentioned the student-made marker.
The friends constantly enjoyed time together, and their favorite tradition consisted of family dinners.
“Emily is the reason why I eat vegetables now,” Rataj admitted.
Kremer put her mother’s cooking lessons to good use, considering she made a majority of the meals. Occasionally, Rataj would take the reins and teach her housemates how to cook Cuban cuisine, while Perry and Schafer gladly accepted cleanup responsibilities.
Fifteen years later, the 40 Woodland women still get together as often as they can. While their growing families make getting together more and more challenging, they still reunite at least once each year. This summer, the friends attended The Great Darke County Fair in Greenville, Ohio, as a belated 15th-year reunion.
The women do not see their friendship fading anytime soon and are already planning for the future.
“We joke how we want to eventually live together again, like the Golden Girls. And if our husbands are around, they can just be in the basement. It’s like our fantasy, and our husbands all know this,” Rataj said.
As long as their husbands are onboard, we are, too.