40. Sociable Bridge: By the 70s it’s politically and socially incorrect

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Bridge games on campus, whether it was the serious competitive bridge clubs the ACBL counted on to provide a steady source of teachers and tournament players or the sociable rubber bridge games in dorms and sororities–both began to disappear. It was all about Betty Friedan and the women’s movement and that students got more socially conscious in the 60s.

These things also had a huge effect on the lives of women of all ages beyond campus. But for the ladies-only bridge clubs that already existed around the country? We were pretty much oblivious. Oh, they moved to the evening as more women went off the work, but the sociable clubs mostly survived. It was only much later we began to notice that our daughters were no longer taking up mom’s bridge game as they had until the 70s.

Personally, I only discovered that the sociable bridge era had ended (even as I went on playing with my bridge club) years later when I started researching my Bridge Table book in the late 80s. How? In Reader’s Guide to Periodicals  at Miami Public Library where I discovered just one lonely article about bridge and lunch in magazines for all of the 70s. As to 70s cookbooks with menus for ladies bridge lunch? They too pretty much ended with the 60s. 

No one really noticed sociable bridge was frozen in terms of newcomers to the game–and I only noticed years later because I was researching a book. Bridge-playing moms like me who learned to play in the 50s and 60s just went right on playing–oblivious.

I came across this gem of a quote about mom’s bridge game accidentally because I’m a fan of Robert Parker mysteries set in Boston. In Parker’s Back Story, one of the characters recalls what he and fellow-students thought of their parents’ lifestyle back in 1978: “My father was in the Rotary Club for God’s sake. My mother played f—— bridge!”  F’n bridge? What an irreverent term for your mother’s bridge game!!

The campus mantra had become, “Anything our parents do, enjoy or appreciate is socially and politically OUT.”  And that included playing bridge.

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