Back together: Card club friends missed camaraderie during pandemic

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A group of long-time friends who would meet regularly to play cards reunited for lunch at Maggie’s Diner near McGregor in late July, marking their first get-together since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Pictured (front, left to right) are Kathryn Starkey, Marlene Abel, Kay Hefner, Linda Henkes; (back) Bona Dean Feller, Julie Breckler, Sandy McMillin and Marguerite Clinton. (Photo by Audrey Posten)

By Audrey Posten, Times-Register

 

A group of long-time friends who, for decades, have met regularly to play cards, gathered for lunch at Maggie’s Diner near McGregor in late July. It marked their first get-together since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

“It’s been a major form of entertainment. We’ve missed visiting each other and sharing our lives—the camaraderie,” said Marguerite Clinton, who makes up the group along with Kay Hefner, Linda Henkes, Marlene Abel, Kathryn Starkey, Sandy McMillin, Julie Breckler and Bona Dean Feller.

 

The Merry Mixers 500 Card Club first met on March 27, 1957, at Joanne Dull’s home. Hefner and Henkes were part of the original group along with Dull, Kathleen Milewsky, Bea Rubendall and Alice Staples. 

 

Other members over the years have included Doris Barrette, Janis Pilkington Fields, Eleanor Soulli, Pat Hallberg, Marie Jenson, Karen Weidenbach, Donna Nugent, Sharon Matthew, Sue Henkes, Ann Breckler, Nancy Kluesner, Mary McGrath Kemna and Joyce Nading.

 

The current members range in age from 73 to 87, and have met every two weeks throughout the fall and winter to play the card game 500.

 

Why 500?

 

“We all knew how to play it,” said Linda Henkes, “although we’ve had to break in a few.”

 

Results were originally published in the North Iowa Times, she noted.

 

“But I told them to quit putting the low in because I was always low,” joked Hefner.

 

The group originally played in the evenings, but switched to days as members got older. They rotate to one another’s homes, giving each lady a chance to host twice per year.

 

“We used to dress up,” recalled Clinton, “and put place mats and settings on the table.”

 

Although they love playing cards, for the ladies, the club is more about socialization.

 

“We used to take our husbands out, but quit that,” Hefner joked. “Then the losers took the winners out. We also went out for Christmas and exchanged gifts.”

 

Clinton, who started playing when she was 28, called the card club her best woman friends.

 

“They’re an important part of my life,” she said.

 

With 30 children, and many grandchildren and great-grandchildren, between them, the members have had a lot to share over the years: births, weddings, anniversaries.

 

“We’ve shared all our joys and sorrows,” Breckler said.

 

Although they kept in touch throughout the pandemic, the club was happy to meet face-to-face again, and look forward to a return to normalcy.

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