When I decided to blog about the bridge clubs in the Tahoe/Donner Pass area of California, I envisioned contacting that club to ask how many informal “sociable bridge” spin offs of their cumulative bridge clubs do they know exist after 23 years. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find a workable email address to reach the Club. I can only assume that such spin-offs exist.
If it’s anything like Florida, where I live, those who participate in one or more of the many organized bridge groups the news article described are invariably linked to one or more informal bridge groups that meet in homes or condo recreation rooms or (increasingly popular) at a local restaurant for lunch and a friendly bridge game.
One sociable club here is an example of such a club, begun decades ago, that is still functioning even though probably few if any of its present members were part of the original membership. From what I know anecdotally, it was started originally by a group of ladies who worked for Welcome Wagon 20 or 30 years ago — remember those? Kind of professional/commercial greeters of newcomers to town, financed by local merchants who would offer small gifts or special offers to them to stop by and shop. Originally the Welcome Wagon Club did have a structure–a Board, bank account and took minutes–but from what I know its only reason for existence was to meet once a month at a local restaurant to play bridge.
I’m not sure when Welcome Wagon folded as a company, or when members began inviting outsiders to participate. I met Louise, an original member of Welcome Wagon, because both of us were part of yet another “sociable” club that met at a nearby condo. She asked if I would fill in an empty slot in Welcome Wagon for the summer until snowbirds returned. I’ve been in it ever since.
At one point the Club decided it was a pain in the neck to maintain “club” status and so we disbanded, voted on a new name, and were then free of having to elect officers, keep a bank account and all that stuff. Personally, I can’t remember what name we adopted, I still call us Welcome Wagon or first Wednesday bridge club.
The few tasks required get done–a “call girl” to make sure we have full tables of four as snowbirds depart, someone to bring the supplies satchel (cards, score pads, pens, etc), someone to sign people in and collect prize money donation. And they get done. Far as I know not one original member who worked for Welcome Wagon is still alive–but the monthly bridge game survives. Decades after the game was declared an anachronism, without any formal structure, the “club” survives.
If I could return to Cocoa Beach in 2030, short of an atom bomb intervening, I truly believe it’ll still be here.
And that’s how come I call sociable bridge a pop culture phenomenon. All it needs is for those Late Boomers taking up bridge belatedly, to connect up and introduce bridge to some of their daughters and granddaughters . . . to re-start the whole inter-generational transfer of the game for another hundred years.