Revival of the Ladies' Bridge Luncheon

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In 1904, The New York Times wrote critically of the “mania” for bridge amongst New York City’s women despite “anathemas of the pulpit.” And as late as 1951, the Times ran a headline: “Women Fritterers Taken to Task.” It was the Episcopalian Churchwomen complaining about women playing bridge (fritterers all) instead of babysitting for younger women so that they could become politically active.

I gave a talk where one women in the audience told of her aged aunt who had played bridge for 20 years once a week while having to pretend she was at a sewing circle to keep peace in the family.

I’m not sure how the ladies bridge lunch started but here’s my theory: One day, one or more women’s club members wondered aloud, ‘Why can’t we meet just for fun and play whist (the ancestor of bridge) instead of always studying something?’

Revived for today’s world, it isn’t important that bridge luncheon occur during weekdays, given that most women work. Certainly, a bridge brunch on Saturday or Sunday would work just as well. Tell everybody to bring a dozen “oddments” and let the sharing begin. It’s the spirit of the thing, after all.

Or, as Maureen Dowd put it in a column, “Rescue Me, Please!” about work-weary boomer women:

“Wouldn’t it be pleasant to while away time playing bridge . . . and
 lunching with girlfriends . . .”

Bridge is a classic game with lineage back to the whist games of Jane Austen novels. You can take it up as a sociable stress-free game, or if you’re the competitive type, take it on as an inexhaustible challenge to your mind and stamina. Either way, you’ll not only get mental exercise but also acquire a circle of lifelong friendships - bridge friendships last! And 90-year+ bridge players are so common that scholars are studying them. 

Survival of the ladies-only bridge club has been a century-long stubborn survival. I say it deserves to thrive another hundred years.



Maggy Simony keeps the bridge revival momentum going at her site, Bridge Table Chronicles.


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