For most of the 40 years following my graduation from college, I played Rubber Bridge socially. I played with a social duplicate group for quite a few years before venturing out to a duplicate game.
A friend and fellow social player, Eastman resident Bobbi Travis, suggested that we attend a Road Scholar program of bridge instruction, a nearly week-long class taught by Marti Ronemus, who is well known as a bridge instructor and columnist.
By the second day, I was amazed that I was thinking about bridge in a completely different way. This was my first bridge class ever, but my bridge “appetite” became insatiable. I couldn’t get enough. Hungering for more, I approached Marti to ask if she would consider coming to Eastman.
The Center at Eastman seemed an ideal venue since it had the space, a great chef and a wonderful view. I presented the idea to the Recreation Department, assuring them that I would be able to get the minimum number of players to enroll. The proposal included having the restaurant cater a buffet luncheon each day, bringing business to the restaurant during the spring “shoulder season” when business is slow. There were 38 enrollees, and it was such a fantastic success that we immediately started planning for the following year.
Our inaugural game was held in the Hearth Room at The Center on the first Thursday in September, 2012. Part of the agreement with the restaurant is that we reset the tables and be out by 5 p.m. when they open for dinner, so at the end of the game, everyone hustles to bring out the plates, water goblets, silverware/napkin wraps, and salt and pepper shakers. This takes the players about 10 minutes, while I collect travelers, boards, etc. Eastman residents ”Tink” Tysor, Bob and Margie Cameron and Steve and Sandy Haase are regulars, and I can always count on “Tink”, Bob and Steve to help me carry things back to my car after the game.
In addition to starting the weekly game, I was working out the details for our second class, scheduled for April 2013. At Marti’s suggestion, we also ran a Non-Life Master tournament that included a continental breakfast and luncheon buffet on the Saturday and Sunday following the class. (As the little fish, I’m not qualified to direct a tournament, so Marti did it.) Enrollment in the class mushroomed to 74 the second year, with participants coming not only from the area, but from Quebec City, New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Massachusetts and Vermont. Most of the previous year’s participants reenrolled and brought their friends.
All I wanted was to be a better player, play more bridge and have a duplicate game here at Eastman, and look what happened!