By Scott Thoma
Nearly eight decades since the inaugural Green Feather Whist Club was formed in Maynard, eight ladies are still maintaining the monthly card game.
A collection of records and items obtained by the Maynard History Museum show that a card club was organized in the fall of 1942 by four Maynard women who decided to play Whist at one of their homes.
The quartet -- Alvina Gayken, Ione Thang, Celia Huseby and Grace Huseby -- thought it would be a good idea to form a club. Following a couple more get-togethers, the four women invited four others to join them to make it an even more competitive club and for the new members to share in the fun.
Early in 1943, four more joined to give the club 12 members, or three tables, the maximum number the card club has had at any one time.
During their early playing days, the women would give prizes for those with the evening’s high and low score. During one of their gatherings in 1953, Bonnie Hanson brought in a green feather as a “booby prize” for low score. The name Green Feather Club was adopted at that point.
Scrapbook journals list the charter members, a roster of the members each year, those moving out of town, those who became mothers and grandmothers, birthdays, deaths in the family, a passing of a current or past member and happenings at each gathering.
As Maynard Museum director, Gwen Jaenisch, was perusing some of the information recently that a former member had documented in an early scrapbook journal, she began to laugh.
“It says here that one of their customs was that the president had to pull down her girdle when she gave her acceptance speech,” said read.
Besides two scrapbooks full of information and photos, the museum also acquired an undated apron signed by former Green Feather members, along with several spiral notebooks listing club dues, expenses and scores.
Perusing the detailed journal entries for each meeting, it’s easy to tell that these card playing women did not get together solely for competitive reasons. It was for food and fun, too.
And boy, did these ladies seem to have fun. Every card game transformed into some type of theme with gifts, costumes, stories, music and laughs.
Today, the Green Feather Club continues with eight members that take turns hosting alphabetically on the last Monday of each month at their homes.
“It’s not the same as it used to be,” said Nancy Pierskalla, one of the current members who was born and raised in Maynard. “We don’t have dues anymore and we don’t select a president or treasurer like they used to. But one thing is the same; we sure do have fun and laugh a lot. And we even like to gossip a little bit.”
The current club meets at 1 p.m. each month and the games last around three or four hours. The group then has a meal together.
“We used to collect 50 cents from each member for monthly dues,” Pierskalla said. “Whoever had the low score was required to pay an additional 10 cents. That money would then be divided out to each member for a meal at a local restaurant. We each got $5 toward our meal.”
The eight current members are 72 years old and up and live in six surrounding communities. They include Pierskalla, Evelyn Johnson Judy Boike, Verna Janssen, Sharon Suter, Diane Shimp, Toni Williamson, and LaVilla Saue. Some of those now living out of town are Maynard natives.
“My mother was in the club at one time,” Pierskalla noted. “I think there are some others, too, that had mothers in the club.”
Men have always been excluded from joining the Green Feather Club, although that is subject to change.
“If a man asked to join now we would take him,” said Pierskalla with a smile. “We need all the bodies we can get.”
The group that formed in 1942 charged 10 cents for dues with the money being used for things such as birthday gifts, blankets for new mothers, or memorials for club members. Money left over at the end of the year would be put toward a Christmas party.
The top scorer at the end of the year would be the club’s president for the next year, while the lowest scorer would be secretary/treasurer. They were chosen at the annual Christmas party.
There was also an annual special dinner held during the summer that would be held at a secret location that only the committee members would know about.
To confuse the remaining members of the group, the lead car would stop at places such as a cemetery or cow pasture before proceeding to the real location.
One thing is for sure. Over the past 78 years, these women have been “dealt” a lot of friendships and a lot of fun.