The Boys Without Dads Club gathered a few nights ago in Albert’s garage to watch the Braves play in the World Series.

The garage is outfitted like a makeshift living room, complete with two sofas poised before a television that is roughly the size of a rural school district.

There are bean bag chairs, cork coasters, a Georgia Bulldogs banner, an Atlanta Braves flag, and an ancient GE refrigerator stocked thick with soda and other high-octane libations.

Twelve young men watched Albert’s TV, slugging Coca-Cola and malt beverages, making various remarks at the screen, calling the umpire ugly names. A few guys played eight-ball on an old pool table.

Not a smartphone in sight.

The garage door was slung open and the cool night air was alive with crickets. It was forty-nine degrees in rural North Georgia.

“C’mon Freddie!” one young man chanted to the batter on the TV.

This was followed by a round of slow claps. The kind of rally clapping most guys do during televised games to prove they are “real” fans even though the players can’t hear them.

“Let’s do this, Braves!” shouted another.

Clap, clap.

Meantime, Albert’s wife, Lynn Ellen, scurried around her kitchen, tending to her oven, shoving pretzel sticks into cheddar balls, sprinkling paprika on anything that sat still.

Her faux-wood laminate table was littered with snack foods. Mushroom puff pastry bites, sweet-pickle deviled eggs, ham-and-olive roll-ups, and of course, Lynn Ellen’s famed Swedish meatballs.

“All men love my meatballs,” stated Lynn Ellen.

Lynn Ellen is eighty-three. Her husband clocks in at eighty-five. They have been married since “Ike” Eisenhower was a household name.

Most club members in Albert’s garage, however, were between ages seven and fifty-nine.

“This is a great club,” twenty-four-year-old Oscar told me. “Al is a stand-up guy, and he’s a mentor to so many of us.”

Still, calling it a club is a little misleading. It’s just an informal group. There are no rules here. The only true requirement for the Boys Without Dads Club is that you must (a) have a pulse, and (b) that’s about it.

Even the club’s name is all wrong inasmuch as there are ten female members.

“I think a name change might be in order,” Albert’s wife insists.

The club formed four years ago when a single mother with two boys moved into Albert’s neighborhood. Albert and Lynn Ellen were your typical nosy neighbors, peeking through the blinds. They watched two teenage boys come and go from the house and noticed something important.

“They didn’t have a dad,” said Albert.

So he invited the boys over to watch a ballgame. He fully expected that the boys’ mother would turn his offer down. After all, Albert was just the hapless old guy next door.

But the mother jumped on the idea. She dropped the boys off at Albert’s place, then left a pair of skid marks in his driveway.

“That first get-together was awkward,” Albert admitted. “They didn’t know me; I didn’t know them.”

But everything changed when Miss Lynn Ellen broke out her Swedish meatballs.

The two boys and the elderly man had so much fun they decided to hang out again. For their next meeting a few more neighborhood guys joined the clambake. One man was mid-thirties, a civil engineer, and—surprise—he was fatherless, too.

And an official club was born.

“I took it as a sign,” said Albert. “We all needed each other.”

Albert’s story is a long one, I don’t have room to tell it, but I’ll hit the highlights. Albert grew up in a boy’s home (read: orphanage). After joining the military, he met Lynn Ellen. The couple tried to have children, but weren’t able. Thus, our heroes learned to quell their parental yearnings, and they remained childless for sixty-six years of marriage.

“He’s always had a soft spot for kids,” Lynn Ellen said. “He was the only man in our whole church who volunteered in the nursery every Sunday.”

Handfuls of members keep joining the BWD Club. And they range from all ages, creeds, and genders. A few members have grandkids. Other members aren’t even old enough to drink.

Some club members are people from Albert’s church who really need a friend. Such as one member who we’ll call Grant.

Grant is forty-three. His father committed suicide when he was twenty-one. His mother is an alcoholic. Grant struggles with profound anxiety from growing up in a splintered home.

“Al and Miss Lynn are my lifelines,” said Grant. “They let me stay in their guestroom when I’m going through a rough patch, they always invite me for Thanksgiving.

“And every Christmas they have presents under the tree for me and the other guys. They listen to me when I need to vent. Al is there for me.

“You just don’t know how much it means to have people actually treat you like they’re your blood family. I mean, sometimes I get pretty depressed and feel like I have nobody left in my life. But then Miss Lynn invites me over and… I don’t know, man. They just care.”

Grant wiped away a solitary tear.

“Plus,” Grant added, “her meatballs really are the bomb.”

Braves won. Seven zip.


  1. Susan H Poole - November 5, 2021 8:57 am

    Thank You, Lord Jesus, for compassionate folks like Albert & Miss Lynn Ellen. And thank You God for Sean who touches the hearts of his readers. Mighty grateful, too, for that Atlanta Braves World Series trophy!⚾️

  2. Dean - November 5, 2021 9:13 am

    Sounds like the kind of club that benefits so many people. They are enriching life’s and doing such a great ministry for their community. Keep up the great work and I wish every community was so fortunate to have great people like that.

  3. Leigh R Amiot - November 5, 2021 10:27 am

    What Susan H Poole said!

  4. Rhett Talbert - November 5, 2021 10:49 am

    Another home run. Go Braves!

  5. Te - November 5, 2021 11:51 am

    You just wanted another excuse to brag that the Braves won. Just try to deny it!

  6. PEGGY THOMPSON - November 5, 2021 12:01 pm

    Beautiful story…wish life now was as good, easy & caring as it was then.

  7. Paul McCutchen - November 5, 2021 12:25 pm

    Sounds like Al and Lynn Ellen are a pair of God’s angels. Doing good things under the radar.

  8. Melanie - November 5, 2021 12:30 pm

    Hugs for Albert and Lynn Ellen and everyone who found their way to them. ❤️

  9. Suellen - November 5, 2021 1:17 pm

    Thank God for people like Al and Lynn Ellen. Our best friends were never able to have children. I know it is a source of sorrow for them but they’ve spent their whole life volunteering and helping people. She taught the little ones in Sunday school for years. I always told her that she had many children because all those kids loved her. The world is a richer place for people like this are in it.

  10. oldlibrariansshelf - November 5, 2021 1:28 pm

    Thanks, always, for sharing the quiet heroes.

  11. Heather - November 5, 2021 1:46 pm

    Sean, you take the time to recognize the most important people in the world, by sight, by listening, by a God-given instinct. So many of us hear, but don’t listen, or look, for the people with a story. I think everyone has a story. I wish my brother had met al and Lynn, or that they had lived next door to us.

  12. billllly - November 5, 2021 1:50 pm

    Thank you, God, for the Alberts and Lynn Ellens of the world, and thank you, Sean, for the stories of these people!

  13. Kate - November 5, 2021 2:03 pm

    Bless all the wonderful people who create those very special neighborhoods where kids feel safe and there is laughter, love, and caring.

  14. Christina - November 5, 2021 2:07 pm

    What remarkable hospitality and love from Albert and Lynn Ellen! Makes the Braves win even better!

  15. Diane Reeder - November 5, 2021 2:11 pm

    Recipe for meatballs……I know some folks that need them😁

  16. Gayle Wilson - November 5, 2021 2:28 pm

    Another story to restore our faith in humankind. I read a quote that went something like this – each day there will be more good deeds than bad that occur. We need to keep our eyes and our mind open to the good. Thank you Sean for continuing to keep your eyes and mind open, and sharing with us…your faithful readers.

  17. LIN ARNOLD - November 5, 2021 3:01 pm

    This makes my mind see so many memories.
    My Dad was in the Army … communcations … and always had a slew of young GI’s that worked for him. Most were away from home and family for the first time in their lives. Our house was their version of the USO. They called my Mom “Mama Mary”. My dad was “Sarge”. The 4 of us kids ranged over a 9 year span. I vividly remember sitting on the floor with one or more of these “brothers” playing pick up sticks, jacks and other floor games. I remember doing Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners in shifts because one group of GI’s would eat with us, then drive Dad’s car to the Comm Center, relieve the shift coming off duty so they could drive Dad’s car back out to our quarters and we’d eat again!!
    Fast forward to my own children. Our house was always the gathering spot for our kids’ friends. They called my husband by his first name. And I was Mama Lin. But now those “kids” are grown now, with families of their own, jobs, and little time for us “old folks”. I don’t see them very much anymore, but thanks to current technology, we stay in touch via Facebook, etc. My oldest son has maintained the family tradition. He is an Olympic Weight Lifting coach and there always seems to be a few of his weightlifters at his house.
    Thank you for my trip down memory lane.
    Lin in Gainesville, GA

  18. Stacey Wallace - November 5, 2021 3:23 pm

    May God bless Mr. Al , Miss Lynn, and Sean.

  19. Tom Wallin - November 5, 2021 3:27 pm

    Very cool. I love Al even though I don’t know him. Great story. Thnaks.

  20. imcdbw - November 5, 2021 4:21 pm

    Love, love, love it! Such a ministry! Tears as I read it. Keep writing, Sean!
    This Texan thanks you for not gloating. : )

  21. Carole A Cornell - November 5, 2021 4:42 pm

    I had to wipe a tear or two. Such good people!

  22. Jane - November 5, 2021 5:21 pm

    Your stories always reach and touch my heart. So thankful there are still people like you with stories of people like Al and Lynn Ellen who affect the lives of others in such a positive way. God Bless

  23. Nancy Crews - November 5, 2021 6:36 pm

    ♥️your writing.

  24. Larry Wall - November 5, 2021 7:36 pm

    Sean – we, your readers, would love to know how you came by this delightful story of these two wonderful people. It obviously is only no older than three days given the game day and the day that you would report it to us. We North Georgia folks believe in taking care of our neighbors. Young and not-so-young.

  25. Karen - November 5, 2021 7:44 pm

    Every neighborhood should have an Al and Lynn Ellen. What a beautiful ministry,

  26. Linda Moon - November 5, 2021 8:37 pm

    No smartphones! Those young men just made my very busy day. And the Braves made my day/night when they won the World Series! And, as always, Writer, you made what’s left of my very busy day because of this story of the Club and its founders. Everyone’s a winner!

  27. Sarah - November 5, 2021 8:40 pm

    When I read your writing, I always wonder how much of it is true. I hope it is.

  28. Terry - November 5, 2021 8:42 pm

    You hit one out of the park with this one, my dear.

  29. Dianne - November 5, 2021 9:27 pm

    Albert and Lynn Ellen do have “kids” in all shapes and ages. How blessed they are to have this family around them, and what a blessing they are to so many others. Thank you, Sean.

  30. elizabethroosje - November 6, 2021 2:02 am

    That makes me so happy thank you Sean 🥰

  31. Karen Snyder - November 6, 2021 3:34 am

    Braves won…yay! Even better, all of us win when you share such beautiful stories.❤️

  32. Darlene Humphries - November 6, 2021 11:31 pm

    God bless them!!! We need more stories like this about the real HEROES in our world!!!

  33. MaryAnn A Dunham - November 9, 2021 2:14 pm

    What wonderful people! Albert and Lynn Ellen are providing much needed blessings to everyone who comes to them! I wish they could be “cloned” so that other children without dads in their lives could have someone to love them like family. People like these two are badly needed by so many young people. Many crimes and other tragedies occur because too many boys don’t have someone to fill the holes in their hearts that most of them don’t even know they have.


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