Thursday, October 20, 2011

Bridge Club in the News

Below is the link to the article about our bridge club that we did in Karen's memory
You can read the article here:
Playing bridge was never their purpose
One Thursday a month, every month since 1968, the bridge club has met for cards and, more important, for the conversation that happens between hands.

The women, 10 of them, started to meet at each other's homes. They first met at Eastman Kodak in 1967, where they were all employed. Most of them came to Kodak as part of a large recruiting class — 120 new college grads — hired as computer programmers. At first, they knew nothing about the giant computers they would soon program. They were music majors and English majors and accounting majors. In those days, colleges didn't have computer science programs.

"It was a great opportunity for women," says Kay Ritter of Webster.
"Women could advance," she says, because it was brand new and not yet dominated by men.
Still, most of them recall being interviewed by male bosses before there were laws against certain inquiries. "I was asked about my marriage plans," says Joan Rohr, now of Hamlin, and today the director of Birthright of Rochester. She had no plans and just wanted a job.
"I said, 'Are you proposing?'" Then, the best comeback came to her: "One thing I can tell you, I won't be drafted." While young men were being conscripted right out of college for service in the Vietnam War, women were safe.  The women learned to play bridge on their lunch hours at Kodak. Some of them met their husbands at the company. All of them moved on to other jobs and other interests — but the bridge club was a constant.
In August, the 10 became nine. That's when one of the women, Karen E. Chan of Scottsville, died. Over the years, the women say, they had often thought about having a photo taken of the 10 of them together. They never got around to it. But in their sadness, they realize just how important this little group has been to them — a community within a community, a human scrapbook that has allowed them to preserve and share the memories collected over a long journey.

Five of them sat down with me to explain. While they are good players, bridge has always been incidental to their gatherings. In the early years, they played tougher — talking less and rarely packing up their cards until after midnight. These days, they start earlier, have dessert first, play fewer hands, are home by 10 p.m. "We forget what's trump," says Ginny Miers of Irondequoit, "or whose deal it is." But it's all good.
"When we started playing, we were in our 20s," says Barbara Boudens of Webster. "We would talk about how someday we'd all be playing together in nursing homes."Boudens left Kodak after a couple of years. "I resigned two months before I was due." In those days, pregnant women had to leave after the seventh month, although they could return later to work after giving birth. Boudens moved to Xerox and now works part time for Weight Watchers.
The host was charged with buying prizes, for the winner and the losers, but that got too complicated, "so we started chipping in quarters."  They chipped in quarters for prizes, which came in handy, Rohr says, recalling the days when the bridge club girls all lived in apartment buildings. "We needed quarters for the Laundromat," she says.

The bridge club was for fun, Ritter says. The women didn't gather to share their deepest secrets or to give each other personal advice. They rarely see each other away from the card tables, although they did have a slumber party at Jackie Anderson's Webster home to mark their 25th anniversary.
But time has drawn them closer after so many years of looking at life though the same shared prism.
The first bridge nights were filled with talk of upcoming marriages, and then the arrival of children and the start of school. "There was a lot of picture-sharing during those years," Ritter says. And talk of family trips. "And divorces," says Boudens, married three times.
The focus moved to new careers, to kids going off to college, and then to graduations. Then to the kids' careers and wedding plans, and grandchildren, retirement and travel, and moving to ranch homes with no stairs to climb.
And on it goes.  They miss their friend. "Karen couldn't sit still," Ritter says. "She would be knitting while we played cards."  And she'd peddle Mary Kay cosmetics. Her death came too soon, proof of the mortality they share as surely as they share so many memories.
Death is always a siren on the quiet streets of day-to-day life. But also a reminder of all that has come before it, and all that is yet to come.
And bridge has nothing to do with it.

Mark Hare's column appears on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays. He can be reached at (585) 258-2351.

No comments: