17. Sociable Bridge: Bridge on the homefront in WWI and II

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In October of 1918, The Chronicle, a magazine for New York society, held a symposium, printed a long Solemn Protest, and invited readers to sign an official Pledge condemning playing bridge in time of war. It was, said the Pledge, an evil example set by the wealthy leisure class to pursue this  “contemptible, time-killing, useless” way of spending time.

Since the war would end in November, it seems like a bit late to protest. Reading on, I wondered if  the reason for the Pledge had more to do with fears engendered by the Russian Revolution a couple years earlier for, wording continues: “. . . by playing bridge, men and women of leisure give to exponents of class hatred (communists??) a weapon to wield.”

How different the world was by 1941 when America entered WWII! The religious mores that kept many in America’s middle class from playing cards began to crumble in post-WWI years, then came prohibition, invention of contract bridge, the boom years of the 20s, the stock market crash in 1929. After that Ely Culbertson saw to it that the new bridge game became a mass fad in America.

By 1941, playing bridge was part of middle class culture, played by soldiers at the front and by the families they left behind. Including General Ike Eisenhower as head of the Allied forces in Europe, and his wife Mamie back in D.C. Not only that, we were fighting on the side of the Russians.

As to class war and Communism, by the 30s, there was a Socialist Party candidate for president (Norman Thomas) and open flirtation with Communism by the young.

For sure, nobody by 1941 would think to seriously propose–even in a magazine for high society–that people not play bridge during WWII because it might incite class antagonism.

One Response to 17. Sociable Bridge: Bridge on the homefront in WWI and II

  1. This mother’s day, I’m doing WHATEVER MY MOM WANTS TO DO. Here is why:Nancy is ditnrcieg and playing the piano. For 40 short minutes, each student is part of a team. They are all active members and they are all required to give full participation. Each student knows they must perform well because their test is not a multiple-choice or essay test. Their test is a concert. At this concert, 800 faces or more will be on them. The audience expects perfection—it’s something they know they will receive. Motivation and passion are two things this lady encapsulates. She uses a Kleenex to emulate a penalty flag in her all-boys choir. She assigns three boys the role of referee and at each infraction (a lack of acting, poor diction, etc.), the referees are instructed to throw the Kleenex penalty flag. The referees are holding their classmates accountable; their classmates are working hard not to penalize the team. The next day, Nancy repeats the rehearsal. And this time it’s the all girls class and instead of a penalty flag, she starts out asking the girls about their weekends. And then, another downbeat is given… The community knows about the greatness of the Arrowhead Union choir department; this shows in packed houses, where people stand in line an hour before, just to get a front-row seat. While community members stand in line, waiting for their prized seat, they are entertained with a visual exhibit. The display case in the foyer changes with the seasons. During the holiday months, there are candles, children’s books and holly. Before the musical, there are professional headshots and posters. Stars hang from the ceiling, a banner is overhead. The decorations are one small Nancy does to welcome the community into Arrowhead Union High School and warmly invite people to stay awhile and enjoy the music. I am lucky enough to teach at the same place as my mom! When I am here late at school, grading papers or mentor students, I’ll often stop down in the choir room to visit. There is always an abundance of food, laughs and music. Often times, there is a student on the piano in the hallway; another is playing Beethoven in the choir room. Another student is helping hang a new poster. In every aspect of her career, my mom has motivated and inspired students to continue to perfect their craft and help out their teammates. She has also inspired me to be a better teacher—and person. Thank you, Mom!Why do I love my mom? Because she visited me when I broke my foot on Valentine’s Day, because she cleaned the lintstuff out of my hairdryer (when I didn’t even know that was possible!), because she wiped my nose when I was little, because she tolerated my friends even when they were annoying and ridiculous, because she didn’t laugh when I learned to play the violin, and because she never missed a cross country or swimming meet, basketball game or recital, parent/teacher conference or any other important date. Why do I love my mom? Because she’s the best and she always loves me!

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