17-4. Nonagenarian Notions: Two Bridge Clubs That Began in WWII

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#17 seems to be mostly about WWII–I should have saved my #12-4 to put HERE. It’s about an incredible  bridge club in Zanesville, Ohio begun in 1940, just before WWII, and still meeting, with four original members still alive. Can read it in the archives in sidebar.

Now, if we only had an organization for sociable bridge players along with the ACBL (call it the ASBL–American Sociable Bridge League?) the Better ‘n Nothing Bridge Club could be awarded a prize of some kind.

There’s another bridge club of significance to me that I’d like to note here. It started in the middle of WWII and lasted 55 years plus–no longer with us far as I know–in Spokane, Washington.

Back around 2000, when I was still trying to figure out how to organize all the stuff I’d collected about sociable bridge over years into some kind of a book, I came across an article on the internet from the Spokesman-Review (1998), “Bridge Through the Years” by Kristen Kromer.

The minute I read it I KNEW, that’s how I want my book to begin–with a quote from this article. Not only had the club started during WWII (and I liked that) but it epitomized the rituals and timelessness of  the bridge clubs my book was to be about. These days, with Google Alerts, it’s simple to find articles from far away places, in 2000 much more chancy. I remember how delighted I was to find it.

Here’s how the that evocative quote and opening paragraph of Bridge Table or What’s Trump Anyway? reads–the Prologue: [you can read the Introduction and Prologue in their entirety by clicking on link just below book cover illustration in left sidebar of website]

      “On a recent Tuesday, hostess Ruth . . . set two square tables with pastel flowered linens,  
      teacups and saucers. . . . The doorbell chimed . . .  soon the North Side home buzzed with the
      comfortable conversation of longtime friends. . . . The eight women took their seats, shuffled
      the cards and began bidding, holding their cards before them like tiny fans. . . . But this bridge
      club is not really about cards. . . . Since they only put in a nickel if they lose a game, it’s not
      about money. . . . It is more about lasting friendships and a ritual that started 55 years ago
      this fall.–Kristen Kromer

Imagine, at today’s frantic pace, long and leisurely afternoons of good food, good gossip and a sociable–not necessarily good–game of bridge. Imagine, in light of today’s transient relationships, a friendship of eight women that lasts for over half a century. That was ladies bridge lunch in its heyday decades . . .

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