23. Sociable Bridge: Bess Truman’s bridge club after WWII

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Once the War was over, in 1946, Bess Truman invited her entire Independence Bridge Club to spend a weekend at the White House.  I’ve blogged earlier about the succession of First Ladies who played either bridge, or its forbear card game whist. Bess Truman fit right in with that tradition with her Tuesday bridge club back in Missouri and maintaning contact with them while First Lady.

The post-WWII bridge club get-together at the White House (only three members had ever actually stayed there before) drew publicity. While several of the women drove to Washington, those who flew got national newspaper coverage. There was an Associated Press photo of five of them departing Missouri by TWA, waving good-bye. All wearing hats as one did back then. Caption says, ” . . . they have an engagement with Mrs. Harry S. Truman.”

The plane was met by reporters, photographers, a man from Secret Service and two White House limousines. That night they all attended a concert at Constitution Hall. Their visit was covered by Life magazine and including photos of the women at Camp David and at the circus.

Bess Truman having her bridge club at the White House for a weekend, observed one commentator, was sure proof that life in post-war America was back to normal. I kind of picture of them (Harry left for the weekend early Friday morning) spending the days sightseeing,  then getting into their nightclothes around six, having an informal supper in the family quarters. After supper, what else? A long evening of a decades-lasting bridge club–like millions of others in America–playing bridge.

What a memory to pass on to their children and grandchildren!

Leaving home on bridge club night in the 40s as Truman did, was also typical of bridge life then (see 25-2).





One Response to 23. Sociable Bridge: Bess Truman’s bridge club after WWII

  1. I recall the above incident. I didn’t learn to play bridge until we moved to Washington while Truman was still President. It opened many doors for me.
    Enjoyed the article.

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