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A West Linn spin on mahjong

Brynelson, Conkle lead local contingent at Oswego Country Club


by: TIDINGS PHOTO: VERN UYETAKE - Lynda Brynelson of West Linn at first didn't want to go out at night to play mahjong in Lake Oswego. But now she is there almost every Thursday night.It took Lynda Brynelson a few years to decide if she wanted to join the Lake Oswego Mahjong Club.

It only took Leo Conkle a few minutes.

Now the West Linn residents are staunch members of the happy group of women (except for Conkle) of the club, enjoying the fun, camaraderie, food, drinks and especially playing mahjong. The group meets every Thursday night at Oswego Lake Country Club, and it is a time of great gladness for all.

Despite this, Brynelson held out about joining the club, even though she had played mahjong for 19 years.

“A couple friends told me it was an easy way to get together and play mahjong,” Brynelson said. “You didn’t have it in someone’s home. There was no fuss. It was an easy way to go.”

However...

“I fought it,” Brynelson said. “After I had retired I didn’t like to go out at night.”

A year ago, though, she took the plunge.

“This is the loveliest group of people,” Brynelson said. “So there I am. I’ve always been a game playing person, and a little competition is always fun.”

As the only guy in the group, Conkle stands out. But he is used to such thing. He is also the only male in the card games at the West Linn Senior Center.

Mahjong is the only thing Conkle does without being accompanied by his wife of 54 years, Marie. He likes being part of the gang.

“There’s the excitement of winning and the challenge,” Conkle said. “I enjoy the people. They’re my harem.”

Despite having won only $2.75 on his biggest night, Conkle receives other benefits.

“I get extra hugs,” he said.

Brynelson and Conkle are part of a group of five West Linners who play in the mahjong club, which has been going since 2002.

Founder Lilly Logan took up the game because she thought the tiles were beautiful, but she soon developed into a sharp player, so she started the club. Playing mahjong together is evidently a great way to go through life. The club members laugh, eat, drink, gamble, travel, celebrate Christmas and make merry.

Sometimes it takes a while to achieve mahjong success, but all of the fun side benefits keep players interested until they start winning.

“It’s growing, too,” Conkle said. “We’re getting new people.”

To sign up for mahjong lessons, call 503-697-3060.



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