52 years later, annual card-playing group keeps tradition in White Bear Lake, Minn.

- After half a century of playing cards together, sharing a lifetime of memories, a group of friends reunited in White Bear Lake, Minnesota to celebrate their annual get-together.

Most of the crew first started playing “500” together in 1966, sharing a lot of laughs and late nights. Many of their special moments were captured on photo boards that hung above as they played on Tuesday.

“We’ve all seen kids born, baptized, communions, marriage – everything,” said card player Margaret Lilla-Healey.

The group was born when Roseville neighbors wanted to expand their social circle. So one couple brought in another, who brought in another and another.

Bonds formed over cards, food and conversation remain unbreakable all these years later. 

“When we first started playing, we would come with the women in high heels and dress up. The men, they wore suits,” Margaret said.

For card player Joe Hensel, one of the biggest challenges in keeping the tradition was learning how to find each other. Luckily, Hensel has GPS.

“I got up here because there’s a little lady in my car that tells me how to get here…I don’t know if I could’ve found this place today had it not been for her,” Joe said, referring to his GPS.

Hensel came to the 52nd meeting all the way from Austin, Texas.

Though the group has lost members who passed away or moved to warmer, southern climates, they still get together once a year to relive old memories.

“The people are all part of our life, like our third family,” said card player Betty Wresh.

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