16-3. Ladies Lunch: Bridge Parties on the Eve of WWII

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The era of middle class homes having a maid pretty much ended after the Great Depression of 1929. By 1941 when Entertaining Without a Maid by Elizabeth Lounsberry was published, the supply of maids was further diminished by those who left that profession to enter the better-paying defense industries.

Lounsberry, however, seems in another world than we live in now, saying “a complete luncheon for eight in the dining room to be followed by bridge, now so popular, I fear would be more than you could undertake without a maid.” Her solution? A dessert bridge for the maidless–let your guests eat their lunch at home before they arrive.

She also throws in a bit of advice on manners during a bridge game. Even back then (as Tony Lazzeri does  in 16-1) she notes the hazards of mixing serious with sociable players. And she warns against eyebrow raising or “regretful sighs” during the bid and play of a bridge hand.

Another cookbook of the early 40s, for a country still feeling the effects of the Depression, was Parties on a Shoestring by Marni Wood. In it, she attests to the pervasiveness of bridge amongst young women in the 40s by suggesting a bridge party for one’s bridesmaids following the wedding to show off wedding gifts. It was simply assumed that all young women of the 40s would know how to play bridge.

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