By Julie Ann Madden
It started out as an embroidery club for local women in 1947 but less than a year later, the 12 women were getting together to play the card game, Pinochle.
Deloris Milbrodt of Akron, the only remaining charter member, noted some weren’t great at embroidery. “We soon decided we should play cards.”
In addition to Milbrodt, the original 12 members were Arlene Johnson who now lives in Sioux City; Donna Rogness, address unknown; and Cora Jans, Marian Kilstrom, Dorothy Klemme, Shirley Klemme, Shirley Miller, Joyce Port, Arlene Swift, Virginia Swift and Geneva Tucker, all deceased now.
At the end of the first year, the club carried over $3.20 in dues. Eventually dues were $10 annually, and the women spent some of the money taking their spouses out to eat at Christmas time. There are no dues now.
The group also used to draw names for giving Christmas gifts to one another.
“I’m glad it wasn’t an embroidery club when I started,” said May Lou Lewison who joined the group in 1949, and the other seven Pinochle players laughed.
Ramona VanderHelm joined the club in 1951 and Joy Dirks became a member in 1966.
From 1972 – 2006, the 12 club members were Jan Boyd, Joy Dirks, Marian Kilstrom, Dorothy Klemme, May Lou Lewison, Vivian McPherson, Deloris Milbrodt, Clarice Nystrup, Carol Port, Joyce Port, Arlene Swift, and Ramona VanderHelm.
They used to meet in the evenings but somewhere along the way, they changed to meeting in the afternoon. Vivian McPherson hosted the annual Christmas luncheons for many years.
Milbrodt hosted the club’s 40th Anniversary at First National Bank on Sept. 19, 1987. They invited old and new members and their spouses to participate in the celebration, which included a social hour and catered dinner. The cost was $4 per person.
In 2011, the club dropped to nine members: Margaret Correia, Joy Dirks, May Lou Lewison, Vivian McPherson, Deloris Milbrodt, Clarice Nystrup, Hyla Olson, Karen Schroeder and Ramona VanderHelm.
As they look forward to 2014, the membership is now just eight members.
The members originally met in each other’s homes, taking turns hosting the meeting. In the last few years, they moved to the Akron Pizza Ranch due to its handicap accessibility.
“No. 1, we want to play cards — Pinochle,” said Nystrup. “Then it’s the friendship and fellowship.”
“And so we can eat,” said Dirks.
“Even the substitutes (which members find to take their place when they can’t make a meeting) say they have fun,” said one of the members.
In August 2012, the club members wanted to continue playing cards so they moved it to the Akron Care Center where one of the members now resides.
They enjoy the new Akron Care Center’s neighborhood activity rooms.
“But we won’t play in the graveyard,” said Lewison.
“We frown on that,” said Nystrup and the group erupted in laughter when The Akron Hometowner visited them in September.
The “giggling, noisy girls,” as their spouses affectionately have called the club members, meet the third Monday afternoon of each month for 10 months a year.
“Nothing keeps us from playing — not snow, ice, rain or tornadoes,” said Nystrup, explaining one time some members encountered a tornado on their way to a member’s home in Le Mars; and another time some of them crawled on their hands and knees across a member’s icy sidewalk to get to the meeting.
“We like getting together with different people you don’t always get to see,” said Correia.
“We’ve shared a lot of laughter and a lot of tears as we’ve shared the joys and sorrows of our lives,” said Nystrup.
They play six hands of Pinochle in each round and the number of rounds varies — whatever they have time for which is usually about three rounds, said Nystrup who is the club’s secretary/historian. Sometimes they play four-handed, five-handed or six-handed. And sometimes, it’s two tables of four players each.
The hostess, who supplies the “light lunch,” pays the highest point getter of the meeting a dollar now and the one with the lowest point accumulation gets 50 cents. It was probably a dime when the club started, said Milbrodt, remembering it also being a quarter.
Sixty-six years ago, point tallies were recorded for each individual player each month. Today, the tallies aren’t recorded.
Pinochle partners sit across the table from each other, and whatever is “Trump” takes everything, they said.
Including the passage of time.