The AARP Card Club has been meeting in the building next to the Atascadero Lake Park since 1961. The group meets three times a week for Bridge on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from noon to 3 p.m.
“When we say card club we mean Bridge,” member Julie Hartman said.
The card club is open to anyone who would like to play Bridge, whether they’ve played it before or have never played it before. Before joining the regular group, all new members are invited to attend free Bridge lessons on Thursdays at 1 p.m. with Virginia Carsley, who has been with the club for many years. Bridge lessons are free and people just need to show up.
When the club started in 1961, it met in the Ewalt Bible School Building and had 73 charter members and a board of officers.
Soon after the group started meeting on Oct. 13, 1961, George Ingham gave the group a lot he owned in the Atascadero Lake State Park. The members donated money to construct a building on that land. That building has since been sold to the Atascadero Kiwanis Club and renamed from the AARP Building to Kiwanis Hall.
Now, the member is down to about 25 people, with about 8 to 12 people coming to each Bridge meeting. For those who want to play in the regular Bridge games, it is required they call 805-461-4136 and leave a message in advance of the date they’d like to attend.
Each Bridge meeting needs to have multiples of four because four people are needed in order to play. Hartman said that if there aren’t quite enough people, there are people who come play when needed.
“It’s fun,” member Carey Rogers said. “It’s a great brain exercise.”
Member Virginia Carsley shared an article called “Why play bridge?” from the book, Bridge for Beginners and Beyond. In it, it says that playing bridge can boost “your brain functions” and it can improve basic reasoning skills and long- and short-term memory.
Part of the reason it’s good for the brain is that every hand is different and it exercises both sides of your brain.
Carsley said that everyone puts in a dollar each time they play and then they divide up the pot for prize money. There’s a one-time fee of $10 when joining the card club to help cover supplies.
The club also plays mahjong on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 10 a.m. and pinochle on Thursdays at 11 a.m.