Area women continue tradition of rolling dice in fun and fellowship
It's an afternoon charged with energy. Along with laughter, the roll of dice, chit chat and of course, food -- including dessert.
On the fourth Thursday of every month, eight area women gather for an afternoon of Bunco.
There's Betty Scott and Mary Seufert of Tonganoxie, and Shirley Walbridge, Edna Sullivan, Charlene Wagner, Charlotte Robinson, Gloria Packer and Margie McQuitty of McLouth.
The "Bunco Babes," as they sometimes call themselves, have come and gone. But two of them, Betty Scott and Mary Seufert, have belonged the longest.
"I started in 1982," said Scott, who is 79. Seufert, who is 87, started later.
Though the women's ages vary, it's Charlene Wagner who takes the prize for being the youngest. She's 65.
There's more to the get-togethers than playing Bunco.
"Oh yes, we do play Bunco, and we do torment one another," said Margie McQuitty, who was hostess at last week's get together.
In fact, gales of laughter punctuate the day and the tormenting is good-natured.
Who are they?
Here's a little bit about the women of the club.
Shirley Walbridge, who grew up in Tonganoxie, has lived in McLouth 44 years. She stays active, bowling twice a week in Oskaloosa and Topeka. She's a former Jefferson County clerk and for 43 years served as secretary of the Oskaloosa Women's Bowling Association.
When she talked of her former courthouse career, Walbridge smiled and said, "We're not old county clerks, we're former county clerks."
And then there's Mary Seufert and her quick smile. Seufert lives east of Tonganoxie. Years ago she worked as a cook here and there. One of those places was Bud's Bakery, located on Fourth Street where today Richard Smith has an accounting business.
Betty Scott grew up in Weston, Mo. Her husband, Charles, was from Piper. When they found land available southeast of Tonganoxie they bought it, before construction of Interstate 70 sliced into their property. In about 1976, Scott worked in the cafeteria at Tonganoxie Elementary School, being fortunate to work there while her grandchildren, John and Beth, attended school there.
Edna Sullivan said if she has half a chance she'd prefer to do "nothing."
But people who know her refuse to take that comment seriously. Sullivan and her friends work out twice a week at the McLouth community building. And her fellow Bunco players say it's hard to keep up with Sullivan during workouts.
But Sullivan takes the praise humbly, smiling as she said, "It's old-lady exercises."
And after exercising, there's coffee. Some days as many as 16 exercisers go on to a McLouth coffee shop after their workout.
Edna's also a member of the "Home Aloners." This started out to be a group for widows and widowers. But now even married people attend. The group meets at a McLouth cafe for breakfast every Wednesday morning.
The good life
Charlene Wagner, who grew up in St. Joseph, met her husband at a dance in Kansas City. She's retired now, after teaching school in McLouth for 20 years and at other schools before that. Retirement is the good life, Wagner said.
"I get to stay home and drink my coffee and wave at the school buses as they go by," Wagner said.
She and her husband live just north of McLouth, but for years they lived on a ranch 20 miles outside of town.
Charlotte Robinson modestly said she hadn't accomplished much in her lifetime.
"I've dabbled in this and that," Robinson said.
She and her husband moved from Kansas City, Kan., to McLouth in 1960, just in time for their son to start kindergarten.
A hobby of theirs has been the annual McLouth Threshing Bee. The couple own the steam engine that earlier was the first steam engine exhibited at the threshing bee back in 1957. It's a Rumley, built in 1919. And Charlotte was threshing bee secretary for about 20 years.
Gloria Packer never planned on living in Kansas.
On her honeymoon they crossed the Sunflower State on U.S. Highway 36. It was summer and the weather was hot.
"I said let's never go to Kansas," said Packer, who formerly lived in Nebraska.
But in 1959 they did move to Kansas, and in 1964, to McLouth when a ranching job opened.
Packer holds the distinction of having been the McLouth school district's first woman bus driver.
She drove a bus for four years before going to work at the bank in McLouth where she stayed 29 years until retirement.
Margie McQuitty is a Lucille Ball-type. Red hair, boisterous outgoing personality, fun.
She started out in Orrville, Ohio, and later moved to Leavenworth. Her first husband died, and later, after her six children were grown, she met Doug McQuitty. The two were married on Valentine's Day, 1984.
The McQuittys enjoy music. Doug has been known to walk the threshing been grounds playing a bagpipe. And Margie used to operate a business, "Big Band Sounds," in which she'd take her electronic orchestrated organ to events and play music. She said right now she's burned out on that.
"I'll go back to it one of these days," McQuitty said.
Also, she's been involved in the threshing bee, working as treasurer for 12 years, helping with advertising and selecting musical groups for entertainment.
A big win
For the most part, the women of the Bunco club know these things about one another. For them that's just an added bonus of the monthly get-togethers.
And the game goes on.
Roll for 1, roll for 2, roll clear on up to 6. And the winners -- well, they know it when the bell sounds at the end of each round.
And at the end of the day the lucky winner gets the pot of $5 put in by each Bunco player.
Some wins are forgotten. Other wins stay in their minds long after the kitty's emptied. For instance, one of the women recalled a big win:
"Betty won seven Buncos in one day and on the fifth win she told us it was her birthday."