Calendar girls

The Bishop Gadsden 2009 calendar girls are (left to right) Joan Ward, Frances Carlisle, Fran Pfaff, Chance Scrantom, Martha Roberts, Kent Freeman, Harriet Barnwell, Elise Robertson, Jeanne Herndon (behind tree), Betsy Loeser, Marilou Watts, Happy Crow and

The 85-year-old had no idea sneaking into her neighbors' yard nearly nude would be such a thrill.

That is, until she became a calendar girl.

"I can't think of anything I enjoyed more," Happy Crow said. "And as I told my grandchildren, the last thing in the world I ever thought I would be, or want to be, would be a calendar girl."

Crow, or Ms. May, is one of 13 women from a James Island retirement community who posed for a 2009 calendar. Proceeds from calendar sales will go to the Bishop Gadsden Resident Assistance Fund, which helps residents beginning to face financial difficulties stay at Bishop Gadsden.

The calendar also intends to show that you can be beautiful and sexy at any age. The models range from 68 to 98 years old.

One woman poses in a tub, two in a pub. Another reclines on a picnic table at a county park.

Ms. June plays bridge in her birthday suit. Ms. September plays piano sporting only her spectacles.

"I think it's a great idea," said Ted Mappus, a resident of Bishop Gadsden.

The idea came from Jennifer Hartig, wellness coordinator for the retirement community. She hopes it will become a tradition, partly to feature more of the women who live at Bishop Gadsden.

"There are so many beautiful ladies here at BG," Hartig said. "That was probably the hardest part — deciding who was going to participate. But it kind of came down to who we thought would participate and who we thought could keep it a secret for six months."

Hartig began asking women to participate in April, and only two declined.

The women who agreed got together to watch "Calendar Girls," a 2003 movie based on the true story of middle-age Englishwomen who posed nude to raise money for a hospital.

Afterward, the local women shed their clothes — to the level of bare they felt comfortable with — and posed for their photos.

Just before the calendar was printed, some at the Episcopal retirement community had second thoughts about the project's appropriateness, Hartig said. But once the board saw it, and loved it, 1,000 copies were made.

The calendars are selling for $15, and the project could net $10,000 for the resident assistance fund.

Elise Robertson, 98, the eldest calendar girl, said she will be giving out the calendars as stocking stuffers to her children, one of whom is a minister.

Her younger sister, Porter Smith, who is 88, persuaded her to be in the calendar. "She just told me I wouldn't have to do much!" Robertson said with a laugh. "When you get (to be) my age, you get a little bit tired."

The two sisters represent January with panache — wearing furs while sipping wine inside the retirement community's pub.

Robertson said she liked the idea of the calendar and its cause.

"Any time you can help somebody out, you feel like you're doing a good thing," she said.

Crow, who posed in her neighbors' bushes while they were out of town, said one of her daughters bought 15 calendars, and another bought 10. Her children and grandchildren think it's great that she can do a thing like this at 85, Crow said. And she agrees.

"I used to think people were old and half-dead at 85," Crow said. "Not anymore."