What started as a simple way for neighbors to get to know each other has turned out to be a monthly tradition spanning five decades.
Known as the Goodrich Road Bridge Club, a group of eight women started playing cards once a month as a way to get to know each other. The young women were all new to the blossoming Bloomington neighborhood west of France Avenue, and a monthly game of bridge seemed like a good way to become acquainted.
That was in 1962.
The cards don’t fly as frequently, but the group continues to meet once a month, nine months of the year, and marked 50 years of friendship in November, according to Mary Kay Carlson-Gronbeck, one of the group’s original members.
Nowadays the group gathers mostly to go out to eat, and there have been a few changes along the way, according to Carlson-Gronbeck. Of the eight original members, five remain. Two have passed away while one moved away, but the group has found others to take their place at the card table, she said.
Only one member still lives in the neighborhood, but the other four charter members of the club all live within a few miles of the old neighborhood, Carlson-Gronbeck noted. “We’re all in the Bloomington/Eden Prairie area.”
Carlson-Gronbeck, 77, didn’t realize her neighborhood card club would spawn lifetime friendships, but she sensed history might repeat itself. A 1964 article in the Fargo Forum noted how Carlson-Gronbeck’s mother was part of a bridge club that had been playing together for 32 years. At the time the women in Carlson-Gronbeck’s club laughed about a group of old women still playing cards together after all those years, she recalled. “Here we are, the old lady bridge club.”
Beyond monthly card games, the women have shared many special moments in each other’s lives, which include the birth of more than 25 children. And of course many grandchildren have followed. This past December saw the birth of a great-granddaughter, Carlson-Gronbeck noted. “We’ve been through a lot together.”
The daughters and granddaughters of the club members know each other, too. “Every Christmas we have a luncheon,” Carlson-Gronbeck said.
The second and third generations haven’t followed in the footsteps of the club members, however. “You don’t see younger bridge players today,” Carlson-Gronbeck said.
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