I naively thought, when I started Googling the Regency Whist Club, I’d actually come across a rare fund-raising cookbook created by one of the business tycoon’s wives and it might include a recipe or two from the chef at the Regency. Never happened! I did, however, come across Ginny Wray’s essay, Bridge Bum Buddha and that is (for me) a bridge vignette out of (near as I can figure out) the 60s.
Ginny evidently submitted Bridge Bum Buddha to the creativenonfiction.org website’s solicitation for essays under 750 words. This was back before 2004. In it she tells of bridge bums she has known (including her mom). Definition of a bridge bum? Bridge addicts who gamble for 10 cents a point.
Here’s a short excerpt about having lunch with her mother at the Regency Whist Club.
“I would meet her there for a lunch of scrambled eggs, which was all we could afford between big wins. Then I would stand behind her chair and marvel at a language all the grown-ups spoke that I would never understand: “Two no trump, three diamonds, pass, pass, double.” Someone was the dummy, every once in a while, letting his partner make their tricks, a tricky business, with much math involved.
“Mother married three of her partners but eventually left them all, after arguments loud enough for the doorman to hear, having something to do if I remember correctly, with how they could possibly have finessed the queen when they were vulnerable (or the queen was), which was ample grounds for divorce, in her opinion.”
The lessons Ginny learned were “I swore I would never learn the game” and “never to marry a man whose main goal in life was to make enough at the [bridge] tables to cover his bar bill.”
There’s a poignant ending to this little Google adventure. I thought to myself, “I love that Ginny Wray and the way she writes and her take on bridge–I’ll have to email her.” Only to discover, sadly, that Ginny died of cancer at the age of 55 in 2004. I’m still glad I sort of “met” her and will definitely read other things Ginny wrote listed here.