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Senior citizens keep active with cards

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Card games are usually the last resort for some people who are bored and are looking for something to do. However, for many, card games like pinochle are a great way to socialize and exercise. No, not your body, but your mind.

“We keep our brains going,” Richard Velez said of why he and a group of seniors at Joslyn Center play pinochle and participate in other activities offered there.

Richard Velez, a former teacher, is a 65 year old resident of the Joslyn Senior Center in Claremont and is a part of a six person group that plays pinochle every week. The three women and three men that make up the group have one common interest: playing cards.

“It’s a social thing,” Velez said.

Velez said he started playing the game of pinochle when he was child. He said that ironically, a retired man from his hometown taught him during the summer when it was too hot to do any physical activities.

So how do you play pinochle?  According to the Rules of Card Games Web site, pinochle is what as known as a “trick-taking game.” The game is played with different numbers of cards depending the way you play, but usually 48 cards are required.

The Web site also lists some terms: single-deck, four-handed, partnership, auction and racehorse.

Single-deck just means that only one deck of cards is used. Four-handed means that there are four players involved. Partnership means that the four players are partnered. Auction means that any of the players can name the trump and the winning bidder gets to name it. Racehorse is when the winning bidder’s partner passes cards across the table and the bidder passes the same number back.

Along with the fun and socialization that comes with playing pinochle, other activities such as bridge, knitting, art and a current events class help Velez with his health because he suffers from multiple sclerosis and the activities allow him to give his brain a work out.

“(Pinochle) keeps our minds active and allows us to socialize,” Velez said.

Jeannette Asher, the senior program coordinator at the center said that the activities are provided to enrich the lives of the seniors with social activities so that they can interact with other seniors and other people.

Asher also said that some of the activities are offered through the Claremont Adult School which is funded through the state so that the classes have a minimal fee.

The pinochle group meets every Thursday from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. at the Joslyn Center in Claremont. For more information contact (909) 399-5488.

Marilee Lorusso can be reached at

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