As a child one thing I looked forward to was when Mom had her card party over. There were 8-10 women in the card group and they met every other week at each other’s houses… so they were only at our house a couple times a year, but it was always an “Event” we looked forward to. First of all it meant good food. There were salads and desserts and all kinds of interesting things Mom would put out for her guests that we were allowed to “sample” after everyone else had eaten. These included junk food and pop… something we did not have a lot of normally. My favorite of my Mom’s friends was Joy because she loved M&M’s. Mom always got M&M’s for her and we were allowed to have some too. (Plus Joy would sneak us some when Mom wasn’t looking)
I think a lot of women at the time had groups. We lived in the kind of neighborhood where there were women who met for book clubs and for Tupperware parties and even a few investment clubs. Mom’s group played poker. There was betting and smoking and swearing and laughing well into the wee hours of the night. These women all went to high school together and were a very close-knit group. They did not let just anyone in. I think they were mostly cheerleaders and baton twirlers from Mom’s school (Class of ’61) but they were a rowdy bunch!
When my sisters and I were little, if we didn’t argue in the living room, Mom would forget that we were awake and we’d get to stay up well past bedtime. When we were older we got to waitress (it was a big deal at the time) and fetch food and drinks for the ladies and they’d “tip us” with coins. Then, finally, we KNEW we were mature when they would let us sit in for a hand while they made a phone call or ran to the bathroom. When we did go to bed it was very hard to sleep because of the talking and the laughing that continued well into the night. (I think these parties always ended by 1 AM or so….. but to a kid that is LATE!)
One of the rules they had was that everyone started out with the same amount of money. I think it was $20 or $25, but I don’t remember. When someone lost it all they got to play for free. They played a game called “High/Low” where there were two pots of money… one for the best hand and one for the worst. To say you were going for the best hand you had to have a quarter, so if you were broke, another player was always making sure you had at least one quarter. At the end of the night, everyone left with at least a quarter. No one ever lost everything.
Thirteen years ago last Sunday, Mom was the first of all the card group members to pass away. The whole group took it hard and every one of them showed up. They asked to be pallbearers and we said yes. (My uncles were not thrilled to have a bunch of women helping them with the casket… but I am pretty sure the card group felt the same way about them!) The other thing they asked was if they could put a quarter in Mom’s pocket. We said yes to that too. We knew she’d be waiting for her friends in Heaven and we wanted to make sure she’d be able to play. :)