Dru Willis pays a nickel as a penalty for making a mistake during a game of Skip-bo. The ladies plan to use the fund to have a lunch or an outing somewhere.

The dining room was filled with chuckles and multiple bursts of different conversations as six ladies settled around the table.

Packs of cards were brought out. Coffee dispensed. German chocolate cake checked out.

A game of Skip-bo was about to begin, as it has been, every Thursday, for the past 22 years.

Some new faces have joined, as others have departed.

“You didn’t make doctor appointments on Thursday, or if you needed to leave town, you left on Friday,” founding member Dru Wilson said.

The tradition was conceived after Wilson lost her son, and her friend of 60 years, Betty White, was trying to cheer her up.

The game was easy to learn, and everyone enjoyed it so much, they did it again, and again.

“I get up, get dressed, I was looking forward to it,” Dru Wilson said. “And then, it got funnier and funnier and I don’t think we ever got a cross word.”

The club consists of six regular members and two substitutes. They meet at home, but when White’s mother was hospitalized for four months, they played at her bedside.

After she passed on a Sunday, they still played the following Thursday.

“We needed that togetherness,” White said. “It wasn’t a happy thing but it sure beat being at home alone, sad.”

Nowadays, smiles and friendly banter abound, even as the conversation turns from cooking tips to the cancer of someone’s husband. Toby, the Shih Tzu,  haunting the underside of the table, is coaxed out for a doggy treat. Wilson pays a nickel for making a mistake into a fund that will sponsor a future lunch or trip.

“The companionship is wonderful,” Linda Dixon says. “I love these ladies.”