WINTERS — Once a month the Winters Senior Activity Center has a plate lunch and brings old friends and new friends alike together. The meal is reasonably priced at $5 per plate but the value of the friendship and fellowship are priceless.

The lunch on Thursday, July 26 had the center was abuzz with activity. Joyce Carbery who works at the senior center had cooked the main course herself. Carbery and Don Ware stand behind the table, serving each person in line as the diners carry on conversations with each other.

Carbery had prepared chicken and others helped contribute to the work and made side dishes and desserts. There were four different types of homemade cakes and cream puffs. But the food comes secondary to the true value of the luncheons.

“It gets seniors out and they come socialize and eat with friends,” Carbery said.

There were approximately 60 people dining together and socializing. Several played cards in another room once they were finished eating.

Conversations took place at every table and laughter echoed across the room as old friends revisited stories from the days of yore, many of those days spent together over six or seven decades in West Texas. Friends catch up on who is having a new grandchild or great-grandchild, who is “ailing,” who is going to the upcoming city council meeting and other topics. Looking around the room one could imagine that had this been 1958, rather than 2008, this would have been a high school cafeteria filled with friends.

The tables are decorated with an Americana theme, bandanas for napkins, while patriotic center pieces that adorn each table hold a small American flag and other decorations as the conversations among friends fill the air. Sitting at a table with seven other people, everything was discussed from the weather, “Hot again today. Gonna be hot tomorrow. Gonna be hot in August, it’s just hot,” to the upcoming Winters city council meeting on Monday regarding a new community swimming pool, “How could they build a pool that leaks?”

My neighbor at the table is a very kind, elegant lady named Marge, who seems to soak in the conversations and just enjoy the atmosphere. It is a needed activity in the community for people who have retired and don’t get out as much as they used to and who don’t get to visit old friends all that often. Life gets busy but these friends make the time to come to this lunch and turn it into the highlight of the month in this small west Texas town. If nothing else, this luncheon reminds them of the value of friendship, the bond formed between people of many years and through all of the ups and downs that life brings each of us. Every story is interesting and most contain a healthy amount of Texas-style humor. The meal was secondary to the bonds of friendship reinforced and appreciated on this day. The point was clear: Relish and enjoy the time that you have with your friends.

Carbery said that they’d like the meal to be more often than once a month and that is something that’s currently under consideration. All of the proceeds from the meal go toward programs at the senior activity center. It is five dollars that is truly well spent.