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A casual card game among friends

John SchroyerPost InPhoto:12301319,left;dependent Staff
Post Independent/Kara K. Pearson
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CARBONDALE – Shirley Parks hasn’t lived in the Roaring Fork Valley for years, but during a recent vacation here from her Arizona home, she found herself at the Crystal Meadows Senior Housing facility playing bridge.Though she lived in Aspen for 17 years, Parks didn’t start playing bridge until last summer, when she spent two months in Carbondale. She immediately fell in love with the tightly-knit circle of players, so much so that when she returned this summer for a visit, finding them again was her top priority.”When I came back, I said, ‘I gotta find my ladies,'” said Parks.”The camaraderie here is wonderful,” Parks explained. “In today’s world, to get up in the morning and think that you can come and be with eight ladies and you don’t have to worry about anything, you know it’s going to be a nice day, and you don’t have to get all gussied up.”

The bridge group, which has been going steadily for decades (nobody knows exactly when it began), has been held every Thursday at Crystal Meadows for 10 years. The ladies pay only $1 per person for a four-hour time slot, and usually about eight to ten players show up.The game itself, which is similar to hearts or spades, is a test of memory, strategy and calculation.”Bridge is a mind game. It’s like sudoku or crossword puzzles,” said Gina Sterrett, whose mother started one of the first rotating bridge groups in the valley in 1920, when Sterrett was only a child.And though bridge players can find a game in any number of places up and down the valley, what makes this one stand out is that it’s just for fun.

“It’s a different brand of bridge. This is loosey-goosey, and they’re cutthroat,” said Sterrett, referring both to other games in the valley as well as the Tuesday night game the group hosts at Crystal Meadows.The more well-known bridge games in the valley are hosted by the American Contract Bridge League (ACBL), which has clubs in Glenwood Springs and in Aspen. But the ladies at Crystal Meadows aren’t very big fans of those games. They’re too serious.”If you say something wrong, they look at you and growl,” said Elaine Hert, who guesstimated she’s been playing bridge for around half a century.Said Joan Pomeroy, who’s lived in the Roaring Fork Valley for 50 years, “People have written very funny books about bridge tournaments. I mean mother and daughter at each others’ neck and husbands and wives getting divorced – over bridge.””We’ve all played with people that you would think the world rose and fell on a stupid card game,” said Pomeroy, and echoes of agreement sounded around the card table.



But you won’t find such attitude at Crystal Meadows on Thursday afternoons. What you will find are eight ladies who are quick to laugh and quicker to welcome in some company.Contact John Schroyer: 945-8515, ext. 529 jschroyer@postindependent.com

Bridge events:Tuesday at Crystal Meadows Senior Housing Commons IV, 7 p.m. to 10 p.m., partner required, $1 entry feeWednesday bridge class at the Methodist Church at Holland Hills in Basalt, 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., freeThursday at Crystal Meadows Senior Housing Commons IV, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., $1 entry feeACBL games, rules, and sites listed at http://www.acbl.org


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