Thursday, November 13, 2008

Remembering Maxine

I was going through some of my older posts just now and one, where I described getting to a duplicate bridge game once in Lafayette, Indiana, by (literally) wading through high water, got my mind to wandering back through the years.

Initially, after re-reading this post, I thought I must have remembered the location wrong. Wouldn't it have been Columbus, Ohio, where we relocated after Purdue? But no, I was correct. It was Lafayette.

Don't remember who my partner was that night - a woman, for sure (don't recall any male bridge partners while we lived in Indiana) - can almost 'see' her, but can't pull up her name from my memory banks. Eric Rodwell and Jeff Meckstroth were students at Purdue at the time - young - new to the game - up and coming players who would go on to develop a formidable partnership. Played against them a bunch of times. Jeff is now a bridge professional ... don't know if Eric is or not. Kind of fun to remember some of those little tidbits.

From there my mind wandered to Columbus, Ohio. I was in the market for a bridge partner, so the first thing I did was look through the Columbus newspaper to see if they published high scorers from bridge games. They did! (I knew that the Lafayette newspaper did, but I was afraid that the one in Columbus might not - it was a much larger city, after all.)

I scrolled down through the list of names to see if one with an unusual spelling might be there so I could have half a chance of finding his/her phone number in the local directory. I knew I had no chance whatsoever with a Smith, Walker, Jones, Black, or Johnson, for example, and was delighted to see an "M Papurt" listed. (Only the first initial was given, but I thought the odds were pretty good in finding "Papurt" ... I mean, how many Papurts could there possibly be?)

The next question, of course, was would the number be listed? In those days (mid 60's) there were some who had unpublished numbers but not nearly as many as today!

There was only one "M Papurt" in the directory and I dialed the number. Didn't know whether I would reach a man or a woman. A woman answered. I identified myself, said that I was new to the area, was interested in finding a bridge partner locally who might be interested in a game with a complete stranger, and was she possibly the "M Papurt" who played duplicate?

Well, that was how I found Maxine. We scheduled a game within the next week and played together regularly for the next several years, until I left the area and came down here to Houston. After that, we corresponded fairly frequently at first, but then - you know how it goes - kind of 'lost touch'.

I tried to reach her by phone just a few years ago. Something had joggled my memory banks, and I got to wondering if she was still around. I was hoping she was, but knew she was closer to my folks' age and tried to prepare myself for the possible news that she wasn't.

[I had to interrupt this a few minutes ago to go back through all of my previously-published posts labeled "Bridge", because I thought I remembered writing about some of this before. I read them all. Couldn't find a previous reference to Maxine, so I'll continue.]

This was long before I had access to the internet, and so I started my search the old-fashioned way - through the long distance information telephone operator. There was no current listing for an "M Papurt" in Columbus, Ohio. I asked for a number for the local duplicate bridge club.

Dialed it. Person who answered (after I identified myself and the reason for my call) advised me that Maxine had passed away just a few years back from cancer - liver or pancreatic, one of the more horrible ones with usually terminal prognoses.

I silently said a prayer, even tho Maxine was Jewish. That's OK to say a prayer for a person of another faith, isn't it?

Then I asked whom I was speaking with, and the person told me her name. I couldn't recall the name from my 'Columbus, Ohio bridge memory banks' and asked, "How old are you?" (Is that an insane question or what, to ask a complete stranger over the telephone how old they are?!? But I did! I don't remember doing that sort of thing when I was younger - well, maybe occasionally. How intrusive!!)

She gave her age, somehow knowing that there might be a good reason for my question - I guess I'd been hoping that her name might ring a bell or that she might remember me. Turns out that she was like two or three years old when Maxine and I were regularly playing together - after all, this was many years ago!

She was very receptive to my call, and invited me to play at their studio 'the next time I'm in Columbus' - fat chance of that occurring, but the memory of our conversation is a 'warm fuzzy'.

Maxine was the one who taught me "weak twos" and opening 'light' in third seat, with partner (who has close to an opening hand but has already passed) being able to ascertain 3rd seat opener's (partner's) hand's actual values by means of an artificial club bid (alertable).

In those days - long before bidding boxes, which are in wide use today - all bids were spoken aloud.

This one time when we were playing, Maxine opened (3rd seat) and I responded "Two clubs." (I had a club suit with 10+ points.) Maxine said, "Alert", and I said, "Whaat!!" Well, I mean to tell you that the whole room absolutely exploded in laughter!

She was often bothered with 'hot spells' - was going through the change of life, and having a really hard time with it. Actually shed her skin during this process. Had never heard of that before - nor have I since! (When I went through the same process some years later, it was much different. I sometimes wish I had had 'hot spells' - I'm so often cold.)

One year we all went to Minocqua, Wisconsin, for their annual almost week-long sectional bridge tournament. (Unless you're a duplicate bridge player, you have no idea how unusual an almost week-long sectional tournament is.) That was always a good time! Most evenings would find me with a group around the piano singing the descant for "Tell Me Why."

It was during this trip - while Dad, Maxine, and I were busily smoking away and recalling the hands and events of the afternoon session - that Mom appeared from one of the back bedrooms, clad only in her top and panty hose (remember panty hose??), twirling her long hand-crocheted necklace around and strutting as tho she were a stripper. Oh Lord, was that funny! I mean!! Will have that picture in my mind as long as I live, I'm sure.

End of stories for this time. I miss you, Maxine! I miss your willingness to immediately accept and welcome a complete stranger into your life. I miss our friendship. I miss our bridge partnership. I hope that - wherever you now 'reside' - you are amongst friends, family, and loved ones. (And maybe even one or two - better yet three, so you could provide the 'fourthsome' - who play bridge!)


Tammy said...

Such a nice story and memories of your friend Maxine. I remember vaguely a post of yours about her, but can't remember which one it was.....

And I think YES it's ok to say a prayer for a friend of another faith. Whether we are of different faiths, have different beliefs in a higher being, or even have differences of opinions in whether or not there IS a God, the gesture is genuine and usually appreciated as such. And even if the friend is no longer around, a prayer can do the one saying it so much good, too.

Bridge...a game that just baffles and confuses me. I know that those who like to play it LOVE to play it. Me, I'm a pinochle girl myself, though I haven't played in nearly 15 years for a variety of reasons. A couple of weeks ago I went over to my friend Velma's house and we got to chatting. Turns out she and 3 other ladies I know (and think highly of) love to play pinochle and do so once a week for about 4-5 hours a night on (I think she said) Tuesdays. Might be Thursdays. ANYWAY, Velma said she was glad to learn I played and they'd love for me to sit in on the nights when one of them has to be somewhere else. 3 Handed pinochle really isn't that much fun. It'll do in a pinch, but still not as good as partner. WOOPEE! lol I can't wait for my first night. :)

Goldenrod said...

Well, for sure, Tammy, it wasn't in one of those I labeled "Bridge" ... perhaps in one where I was talking about the 60's?

Like you, I thought I remembered a previous post where I had talked about her. Never mind. Not really that important right now, anyway, except one of the LAST things I want to do is repeat myself and bore my readers out of their skulls! (Good way to promote non-interest in continuing to follow my blogsite, wouldn't it be?)

Too many posts, too little time (to check and double check) ... teehee!

When you made your comment on one of my earlier posts about "life's just much more interesting", it made me think of one of the questions & answers in my first post of today (actually wrote it yesterday, but 'programmed' it to publish early am this morning.

One of the things that neither you nor I could ever be accused of, Tammy, is 'boring'. Same thing with my very dear friend, Jacky. I wrote her in an e-mail recently (something like), "Show me a person who's bored, and I'll show you a boring person."

I like your saying "even if the friend is no longer around, a prayer can do the one saying it so much good" ... so insightful, Tammy, and so true. Let this response (hopefully) be a reminder to myself to do a post sometime on Dr. James Wharton. Don't think I've published one yet on him. It would (should - ha!) have had the label "Religion," and you know how very few I've published with that label ... just a handful, so those should be easy enuf to check and read back through.

I'm tickled to death that you will soon be getting an opportunity to re-acquaint yourself with the game of pinochle. (And your remembrance of 3-handed is 'dead on' ... "cutthroat", I think we used to call it - nasty little game!)