Friends Find Happiness Is In The Cards

Pete, Roger, Frank and Richard, Charlie, Dick and Joe are all together again for another afternoon of unbridled laughs. This group of guys has been getting together for cards since who knows when, CBS News correspondent Steve Hartman reports in this week's Assignment America.

Seriously, who knows when?

"We started in 1951," one player says. "It was '51 or '52," another says.

That makes it at least half a century of the same guys, same game.

They play Sheepshead, which is kind of like Eucre, if you know that game. If not, don't worry — they say this isn't really about cards, anyway.

"I don't think the game is important," one player says.

"Cards was just an excuse to see each other," another says.

"That was the glue that kept us together," says a third.

The guys first met in college. Over the years, they've stood up at each other's weddings and been godparents to each other's children. They've mourned the loss of two spouses and celebrated the births of 32 grandchildren.

Because they have been through so much, they refuse to fold on one another, no matter how bad the hand.

A few years ago, Charlie was diagnosed with a kind of Alzheimer's. Today, the guys take turns sitting out so Charlie can still sit in. They pretty much have to play his hand for him, but no one seems to mind. In fact, quite the opposite.

"Two or three times during the game, he would smile or he would laugh or that light would return to his eyes, and it was great to see," one player friend says. "We want him with us as long as he can come," adds another.

No one knows for sure when it happened, but at some point over the last 50-odd years of stale jokes and non-stop ribbing, real compassion came to the card table — which is why, no matter what life deals these guys, happiness will always be in their cards.
  • Melissa McNamara

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