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Photo by Mark Newman

Photo by Mark Newman

The Gabby Gals are: (left) Bonnie Mandeno, Kathleen Whalen, Brenda Brown, Jean Hachey, Bev Robson, Trudy Mueller, Iva Flick, Mary Miya, Joan Vasey and Jessie Kavanagh. Missing are Thelma Lapierre and Margaret Nowacki.

Gabby Gals celebrate 40 years

Monthly card-playing group also raises money for charity

 By Mark Newman, News Staff

Bonnie Mandeno and her friends are amazed at how fast the time has past.

The central Mountain resident is the founding member of the Gabby Gals Euchre Club, a group of mostly Mountain residents who have been meeting each month to play cards and chat for the past 40 years.

“Back in 1972 in the summer I decided I wanted to meet some new friends and get reacquainted with the old friends I had and I thought maybe we could start a euchre club,” said Mandeno at a recent meeting of the gals on the east Mountain.

The youngest player is 67 and the oldest is 89.

Four decades later the women still take turns hosting card parties from September to May and enjoying their end-of-year outings.

Mandeno said they call themselves the Gabby Girls because there’s always an on-going conversation during and between hands at the two card tables that are usually in session from 7:30 pm to 10 p.m.

Many of the card players also enjoy a glass of wine or two and a bite to eat at the end of the evening.

Mandeno, along with Bev Robson, Joan Very, Brenda Brown, Iva Flick and Jessie Kavanagh are from the original group of eight Gabby Gals that are still playing.

Today the group has 12 members including Kathleen Whalen, Jean Hachey, Trudy Mueller, Mary Miya, Thelma Lapierre and Margaret Nowacki.

Brown and Vasey are sisters as are Flick and Kavanagh.

Other members have either died or moved away.

“Only eight people play at a time,” said Mandeno, who is also the group’s historian and keeper of their photos and clippings. “If one of those eight can’t make it, it’s your responsibility to call one of the (other) four and they will fill in for you.”

Over the years the women have shared their triumphs and tragedies and a lot of laughs.

“It’s been a great 40 years,” said Kavanagh. “We all had kids and we all had problems and (playing cards) is a nice escape.”

Vasey said the women look forward to the monthly euchre and gab sessions.

“It’s a way of keeping in contact with our friends,” she said.

“The friendship is the main thing I think that you get out of it and we all enjoy playing euchre even though we can’t play it,” Brown added.

A flip through one of their photo albums leaves many of the group amazed at how different they all looked 30 or 40 years ago.

“It’s so funny to see us in 1972,” Mandeno said. “The clothes and the short dresses.”

Each spring the group holds a pot luck dinner and in the past the women have dressed up in various themes including Hawaiian, western, pajama sleep-over calendar girls and pioneer.

“We still have pot luck, but the theme has kind of filtered away,” Mandeno said.

“We just put clothes on,” joked another one of the group.

Mandeno said many of those themed dinners included what the women called their “silly games” and they all laughed when asked if those games included anything that could be printed in the Mountain News.

Along with the fun, friendship and wine, the Gabby Gals have been raising money for charity over the last four decades through 50/50 draws, the pot luck dinners and their annual Christmas gathering.

Over the past 10 years, the women figure they’ve raised nearly $2,000 for Camp Trillium and they hope to tour the facility in April or May.

Last month the Gabby Gals celebrated their 40th anniversary at the Fern Resort in Orillia.

 

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