MARQUETTE - The Scrabble board was all set up but first things first: Lois Stanley had to pass around her cellphone to show off a new photo of her grandson, Jarvan.
That's how Scrabble day, the second Wednesday of each month at the Marquette Senior Center, rolls. It's more on the side of fun than on the side of cutthroat competition and the participants enjoy every minute.
Like any traditional Scrabble game, the first act was for each of the four participants to blindly pick a letter from the bag to see who was to go first. Both Stanley and Mary Thomas pulled out an "A" so a draw-off takes place. Thomas picked an "I", besting Stanley's "U" and the game began with her.
Clockwise from the left, Lois Stanley, Marilyn Betts, Mary Thomas and Vicki Lambert play a game of Scrabble at the Marquette Senior Citizens Center recently. The group enjoys the challenge of the game and the camarderie of sharing an afternoon of fun with friends. (Journal photo by Renee Prusi)
Players use seven letters at a time to make words. The game takes place once a month at the center. (Journal photo by Renee Prusi)
"Oh, we do have a good time. We do," said Marilyn Betts as she awaited her turn.
"We use this," said Stanley, holding up The Official Scrabble Players Dictionary. "Iit's an older edition. This is the gospel."
In this friendly game, the dictionary isn't used so much to challenge as to learn what words mean.
"If we don't know what a word means, we look it up," Betts said.
The first word played this warm Wednesday afternoon by Thomas was "FEEN."
"Are you sure that's a word," player Vicki Lambert asked.
"I think so," Thomas said. "I think it's on the list."
The list is a "cheat sheet" the players use before or after games, not during. It helps them with unusual words that are Scrabble allowed. FEEN, however, was not on the sheet, but the participants chose to look it up anyway.
No one was sure, so it was searched for in the Scrabble dictionary. It was not there.
"It's a good time to lose a turn, Mary," Stanley said in a kind tone.
And the game moved over to Betts, who put up a six-letter gem, COLLAR.
"That's 22 for the start," Betts said. "Not too shabby."
As the women continued, senior center coordinator Jane Palmer arrived.
"Did you see the story about the Olympics, Jane?" Lambert inquired. "They are talking about having pole dancing as a sport. We should try that here. We could use the extra exercise."
Laughter filled the room.
"I don't know about that," Palmer said with a skeptical smile.
"Come on, let's do that, guys," Thomas said to her friends at the Scrabble table.
After another spate of laughter, the game resumed with Stanley spelling BONG.
"How long have we played Scrabble here?" Betts asked.
"It will be two years in September," Stanley said.
"It had been 30 years since I had touched a board," Betts said. "The first time I came down here to play, I said 'you guys are fast.' But they are all so nice. We have fun."
Lambert was next and spells DAIRY, quickly followed by Thomas with YES.
"Laughing is really good for you," Stanley said. "That's why we like this."
Palmer was asked if she ever joins in the game.
"Whenever I see them play, I think I can do this," Palmer said. "But I found out I am horrible at it. I think you should be able to make up words or shoot the letters off in a diagonal direction."
The players laugh again and good-naturedly tease Palmer.
Betts' next play SAINT is followed by Stanley's MONTH which lands on a triple word score for 30 points.
"We try to do two games when we play," Stanley said. "We play to about 3:30."
Thomas added: "We have fun. And I don't even know how to spell."
Seniors are welcome to join in on Scrabble at 1 p.m. the second Wednesday of the month. The Marquette Senior Center entrance is at 300 W. Spring St., Marquette.
Renee Prusi can be contacted at 906-228-2500, ext. 253.