Monthly Archives: July 2012

fun & games: Bunco girls gather for good times

Good friends. Good laughs. Good times. Bunco.

It’s printed on their black T-shirts with hot pink lettering.

But it’s more than just a catchy saying.

After 10 years, the expression rings true for this group of local women. Good friends gathering for a good time with a lot of good laughs playing a game called Bunco.

Playing together

Dice roll across wooden tabletops and echo throughout the room. The occasional bell rings. There’s talking. And laughter. Loads of laughter.

A group of local women began playing Bunco a little over 10 years ago. They live in several Nodaway County communities and include Julie Acklin, Rita Carroll, Keitha Clapp, Amy Derr, Nichole Dew, Pat Giesken, Melissa Grace, Diana Heitman, Shannon Heitman, Deb Henggeler, Becky Jones, Patty Neal, Marsha Price, Liz Schieber, Lori Snead and Barb Walk.

The idea for the Bunco group started with Price, who had a friend in college who played the game. She thought it would be fun to start a group here.

“Several years later, we finally had enough friends to play,” she said.

With most of the original members still, they get together the second Friday of each month and rotate hostesses and homes.

Outside of Bunco, some of the women work together, some play sports together and some of their children are friends, too.

The game’s history

According to the World Bunco Association, the game was originally called 8-Dice Cloth in the 1700s in England. It first came to the US in 1855 by a crooked gambler in San Francisco who called it Banco. A few years later, the name was changed to Bunco or Bunko.

From the 1880s until the 1920s, the game changed from one of gambling and swindling to a traditional family or parlor game with Bunco groups consisting of 8-12 people and even up to 20 who enjoyed an evening of fun, friendly competition and conversation. During the roaring ‘20s, Bunco gambling parlors became popular once again, but after prohibition, interest in the game declined.

Bunco made a resurgence in the 1980s and its following has increased steadily ever since.

Traditionally, most Bunco gatherings include 12 players with three tables of four players each. The game is one of luck, not skill, and is played with three dice. The object is to accumulate points by rolling certain combinations.

Creating memories

Cheers erupt from the girls who have gathered on June 8 at Grace’s home in Burlington Jct. “Bunco!” Clapping, high fives and more laughing.

In the last 10 years of playing, group members have created a lot of memories through their laughing and socializing.

The most unforgettable one came when they were playing at Jones’ house once and her neighbor’s home caught on fire. They donated the winnings that night to the victims of the fire.

In addition to the memories, they’ve also gotten to know each other better.

“When we get together, we tend to sometimes talk more than we play,” Melissa Grace said.

For most – if not all – the conversation takes precedence over the game, asking questions about one another’s families, children, jobs and lives.

“I come just to see these people,” Jones said. “Because I’m not very good at the game.”

And, of course, more laughter ensued.

For more information on Bunco, visit

‘I want to try everything once’

“Wandering alongside the Woods” column by Jacki Wood

As a little girl, I remember my mom popping popcorn and placing it in bread bags in preparation for our summer vacation. We all loved to eat it, my dad especially, and he would snack on it late at night to stay awake while driving.

Food is an important aspect of any road trip and can be divided into two parts: what you eat while driving and what you eat when you arrive.

While some parents insist on giving kids only healthy snacks while traveling, I’m a believer in special treats they don’t normally get at home.

We didn’t have a lot of junk food growing up, so a couple of our annual road trip food traditions included a big bag of Brach’s assorted candies and Pringles.

Today when we all travel together, we’ve replaced the candy with Red Vines but we still love popcorn and Pringles.

What else to pack? We go with breakfast items like granola and protein bars, fruit, yogurt, and occasionally pop-tarts (which we never have at home), and then sandwiches, chips and raw veggies for lunch. These can be eaten while driving or at a rest area or park when a little stop along the way is needed.

I came across a new idea on Pinterest while planning this summer’s road trip which I can’t wait to try on my kids. They are these cute, little travel snack boxes that can hold a variety of food items. I found the ones I’m using in the craft section and they have 18 tiny compartments.

The idea is to give your children a variety of sweet and salty food options — nuts, dried fruit, Goldfish, Cheerios, gummi bears and the like — so they can choose for themselves.

An example of our food while traveling from our most recent road trip…

12/23/11 road trip tweets: visiting family in Florida

“Back on the road to Atlanta at 7:30. Headed to the Jimmy Carter library and museum. Kids are eating poptarts and gogurt.”

“On the road again, heading south and eating sandwiches in the car.”

“Gas in Wildwood, FL. Enjoying freshly squeezed Florida OJ there.”

Once we’ve arrive at our destination, we plan one special meal each day, frequenting local restaurants (not chains) that are popular in that community.

If we’re someplace we’ve traveled before, we usually stop at our favorite places but also try new things, too.

When we go to the Branson/Springfield area, we always stop for sweet treats at Andy’s Frozen Custard. My favorite is the James Brownie Funky Jackhammer.

When we’re in Los Angeles, where my husband is from, we break our rule of no chains by eating at In-N-Out (one of the best burgers around) and El Pollo Loco (fabulous flame-grilled chicken and tortillas).

We also make a special trip to Olvera Street, the oldest part of downtown LA, just for the taquitos at Cielito Lindo. The sauce is amazing and the taquitos are unlike any others. We first took our kids there when Hannah was just 11 months old and she loved them (still does).

In my last column, I talked about places featured on Food Network’s Diners, Drive-ins and Dives and highly recommended Victor’s 1959 Café in Minneapolis. Last summer while in LA, we hit The Oinkster in Eagle Rock for their pastrami and pulled pork sandwiches. That’s one palatable pig.

You can search for them at

12/27/11 road trip tweets: heading home via New Orleans

“Larry & I found the restaurant we ate at on our honeymoon 14 years ago. The Market Cafe. Alligator, muffaletta, shrimp po-boy, red beans & rice, gumbo, shrimp creole, and Jambalaya.”

“One last treat before the final leg home. Andy’s in Springfield.”

I’m sure there are a lot of great food places in New Orleans, but The Market Cafe (at Decatur and St. Peter’s streets in the French Quarter), serves fabulous Cajun and Creole cuisine accompanied by live jazz music.
 Sometimes we find a place that serves really good food. And sometimes, well, not so much. But you’ll never know if you like it unless you try it (thanks, Dr. Seuss).

We drove to Dallas a few years ago for the BYU/OU football game. We tried a Salvadorian restaurant, Gloria’s (which was divine), and a Peruvian restaurant (which was not). But the next time we’re in Dallas, I’m sure we’ll stop at Gloria’s again and also try something new.

Try it. Try it all. And like Anthony Bourdain, host of No Reservations, said, try everything at least once: “Do we really want to travel…eating only in Hard Rock Cafes and McDonald’s? Or do we want to eat without fear, tearing into the local stew, the humble taqueria’s mystery meat… I know what I want. I want it all. I want to try everything once.”