Lois Potratz | Oshkosh, WI
My name is Lois Potratz and I belong to a Lois Club chapter in Wisconsin. It was founded in Minnesota, I think in 1979, but grew to have chapters all over the country. Half the states in the country have Lois Clubs of one kind or another. The name Lois celebrated its heyday in the 1920s and 1930s when it was one of the top twenty-five favored names for baby girls. Since then, however, its popularity has been in decline. These days it doesn’t even rank in the top 1,000 names.
We have a Lois Club song: ‘My name is Lois. Your name is Lois. We are Loises all. Join us for lunch, we’re a great bunch. We’re going to have a ball.’ You can get a Lois Club pin. At this big conference, they had stationery you could buy stamped with ‘A note from Lois.’ So there’s all kinds of fun little things. There are no formal meetings. We don’t have an agenda like some clubs do. The purpose is just to have those people who are fortunate enough to have the name Lois get together and enjoy one another. No religion, no politics.
One time we had a meeting with our Milwaukee and Green Bay Chapters in Fond du Lac at the South Hills Club. It was just so cool as there were almost 100 of us Loises in one big banquet room! A good friend of mine commented, ‘That’s just way too many Loises,’ but my thought was you can never have too many Loises.
I first learned about the Lois Club when I was the director of the public library in the village of North Fond Du Lac. I absolutely loved that job. When I worked at the library, several women that were Loises came in and asked me to join their group. And at the time, I was working and had family commitments and was just too busy for one more meeting on my plate. But when I retired, it felt like the right time.
My friend Lois Pflum shared a newspaper article with me that described our group as, ‘An exclusive club just for people with the same four letters in common.’ I thought that was funny. I wish I had asked my parents why they named me Lois. I don’t know why I am Lois. In our Lois Club we have talked about, ‘If you could pick your own name, what would you pick?’ And some said, ’I would keep my name because that’s who I am.’ But I thought, ’Your parents named you!’ I knew a Camille once and I always thought that was such a beautiful name. I know sometimes people change their names, but I guess I’m Lois forever.
I think women, especially, need to have a group. I know men have golf leagues and bowling leagues, which my husband did, but I think women need those connections even more so. We get really close with some of these friends. Especially nowadays, when we couldn’t meet in person because of Covid, we could email or phone. You absolutely need that. Joining groups helps one be a well-rounded person, addressing different areas of who we are. All the times that I’ve been with different Loises, we just enjoy one another and have a fun time. And that’s what life is about. Being a librarian, of course, I was in two book groups that each met once a month. And I was in my women’s Bible study group at church. After I retired, I joined a yoga class at our senior center. So I’ve got the physical part of my life, the religious part of my life, the mental and the fun. Women tend to share a lot of personal things in the groups they are part of, which helps keep us mentally and emotionally healthy. It’s so important. In this modern world, texting and Facebook are fine, but it’s not the same as having personal contact with a group. And eye contact and hugs are so important.
Lois’s story was produced by Rebecca Bloedorn.