Margaret Thompson, from left, Vernice Self and Alma Crouch play a game of '65' at their joint birthday party Thursday. The ladies have been playing cards together for more than 20 years and share birthdays within a week of one another. Thompson turned 85, Self turned 90, and Crouch turned 95.

Photo by Hans Hallgren

Margaret Thompson, from left, Vernice Self and Alma Crouch play a game of '65' at their joint birthday party Thursday. The ladies have been playing cards together for more than 20 years and share birthdays within a week of one another. Thompson turned 85, Self turned 90, and Crouch turned 95.

Celebrating 270 years in 1 week

Local trio, ages 85, 90 and 95, has a surprise birthday party

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— Margaret Thompson, 85, Vernice Self, 90, and Alma Crouch, 95, gather every Thursday to play cards and relax.

This week, a chorus of Happy Birthday interrupted their routine.

Before their game Thursday at the Golden Meadows Apartments, Thompson's 51-year-old son, Chuck, decided to throw a surprise birthday party - for all three ladies.

The three longtime Craig residents have their birthdays within one week of each other. Margaret's birthday was Wednesday; Self and Crouch will celebrate theirs Monday and Tuesday, respectively.

"I kept wanting to tell them," Chuck said. "It was really hard to keep it a secret."

For Crouch, it was one surprise that she will pay back.

"Just wait," she said to Chuck. "I'll find a way to surprise you."

The party was Margaret's second surprise of the week.

"This week, I had a surprise party for my 50th year in the VFW," she said. "I joined on March 3, 1959, and on Monday, they surprised me with a pin. It's a lot of surprises in one week."

Margaret said whenever someone new moves to the building, they are greeted with an invitation to play cards. That's the way it has been for more than 20 years, when all three moved in, and the game has doubled since the deck was first shuffled.

"We've been doing this for a long, long time," she said.

So long that each of the women can recount the others' extended family from stories told around the card table.

"I have 19 great-grandchildren, and eight grandkids," Margaret said. "And Vernice, you have 11 grandkids and 22 great-grandchildren?"

"And two on the way," Self said.

The group varies the games from week to week, but "we never play bridge," Margaret added.

"We just play a lot of cards," she said. "We'll play 65, Phase 10 and Mexican Train. But no bridge."

When asked which of the three is the best player, fingers begin pointing.

"I don't think any one of us is the best," Thompson said. "I don't think any of us are great, but we keep playing anyway."

Though the group laughs and jokes constantly throughout the night, no one in the building seems to mind, Self said.

"We're not nearly as noisy as we used to be," Self said. "Not since we got the land lady to start playing."

The group rotates apartments, but only the games and venue change every week.

"It can get pretty crazy around here on Thursday nights," Chuck Thompson said. "But, because they switch the apartments from week-to-week, I can still watch the basketball games some nights."

The group is close knit - Christmas, Thanksgiving and birthdays all are celebrated together.

"This is my family," Crouch said.

And they expect to be playing for a lot more birthdays.

"I imagine she'll live to be over 100," Margaret said about Crouch. "Her mother lived past 100, and I'm sure she will, too. I guess we'll be playing together till we die or can't see."

Comments

AltitudeAdjustment 5 years, 9 months ago

This is the best human interest piece the CDP has done in a long time. This is exactly what a small town paper is suppose to do. I think the news papers of today can take a lesson from how community papers reported thet news 70+ years ago. We want to know how our neighbors are doing and who's who in the community. I could care less if PBO is on Leno or if someone in Denver is doing something stupid for the 500th time. We want to see and know what is going on in ur community. Great job Ben!

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