Pokeno group members Marcella Ragan Palazzo, Tonya Lyall Orcino, Rhia Richaard Wilson, Jane Gerace Boudreaux, Madeline Besson Kessler, Susan Bourgoyne Landry, Toni Millet Zito, Sheran Landers Benton, Paula Brou Matherne, Tracy Koenig Hebert and Beth Caillouet Scioneaux. Photos courtesy Jane Boudreaux.

How a college Pokeno group has lasted through four decades

When Jane Boudreaux started her Pokeno group in 1983, she intended it to be a monthly get-together for her and her college friends. Forty years later, Boudreaux and her group still maintain those monthly meetups and share life experiences with one another.

“It started when I was in college. My sister is five years older than I am, and she had a Pokeno group,” Boudreaux says. “I had to sub one time, and I just had so much fun.”

The group started meeting in college dorms and then progressed to apartments and eventually houses as the group grew up and into adulthood. Over time, Boudreaux says the group has evolved from playing Pokeno and serving appetizers and desserts to having dinner, seeing movies and even trying new restaurants together.

“Now, what I want to do is go to a restaurant because then I don’t have to clean my house,” Boudreaux says with a laugh. “Before, it was ‘We want to use all of our wedding gifts and all of our plates.’ It’s fun when you’re young. Then it turned into us using designer plastics instead of the real stuff because we’re older now.”

For Boudreaux and the other women, the group has been a staple, keeping them together over the years. They’ve been able to maintain those tight bonds of friendship as they have gone through different phases of their lives, from new motherhood–much of the group was pregnant at the same time–to empty nesting.

“Our conversation has changed over the years,” Boudreaux notes. “It’s been funny. In fact, we all started not being able to see, so we ended up all getting glasses. It’s just funny how things you think are never gonna happen to you eventually do. It’s just been a life cycle.”

Recently, the group got together for a special celebration to commemorate 40 years together, complete with cake, Pokeno and plenty of reminiscing.

“It’s an outlet to get out of our house and laugh,” Boudreaux says. “We have not only spent time together, we’ve grown up together, from our 20s to now in our 60s, sharing ups and downs, happiness and sadness, marriages, births of children, deaths of loved ones, the list goes on. The one thing that remained consistent throughout our life changes was our monthly Pokeno night.”