The following transcription is from a series of recordings my father made in the early 1990s:
The ladies here in the village started a little Bridge club in the early to mid-1930s. There were about twelve women in the club. They would play every week at somebody's house.
|Allye Steele Edmonds playing Bridge|
There would be a first prize for the one who made the highest score. The booby prize went to the one who came in second. The lady who was the hostess for the day gave out the prizes. My mother was a great Bridge player. The other ladies said she was one of the best.
I went with my mother everywhere. Wherever you saw Allye, you saw Little Bruce. She took me to all the Bridge games. I especially liked going to the Bridge games because they always had refreshments. I made sure I got in on all the refreshments.
The ladies in the Bridge club were Kathryn Benedict [Charlie] Smith, Wardie Reeves [Gus] Krause, my mother, Birdie Talbert [Oscar] Krause, Georgia Westbrook [Henry] Peniston, Willie Woodward, Isabel Enright [Melvin] Foster, Lela Tarver [Enos] Jackson, Earle York [Henry] Krause, Henry Brown [Zeb, Jr.] York, Thelia Huff [Albert Earl] Krause, Dorothy Gordon, Lilla Sorg [Tom] Enright and I believe Katie Harris [Cameron] Coney.
In playing Bridge, one of the players would bid. If another player didn't think that player could make it, they would double the bid. The player making the original bid could re-double the bid. That made the score higher.
Mrs. Wardie Krause was known for doubling. They called her Doubling Dora. I think my mother gave her that name.
I watched them play many a day for hours and hours. Later on, in the early 1940s, my mother started playing Bridge up at Uncle Tom Enright's house with Uncle Tom and Mrs. Lilla and sometimes their daughter, Isabel Foster. Other times, old man Zeb York would play with them.
I never got to play Bridge on a regular basis. If somebody was late or didn't show up, they would let me play.
The men played checkers and dominoes.
Mr. Buck Smith had a checker board on a bench in front of his store. Mr. Buck loved to play checkers. Mr. Willie Benge was a great checker player. The colored people liked to play checkers but they called it pool checkers. You could jump all the way across the board, back and forth.
Little Harry Jenkins, who we called "old folks", was the mail carrier. He carried the mail in the mornings and in the evenings. He would hang around town between those times. Sometimes he helped Mr. Buck in his store. He was always there on the street and would play pool checkers. Willie Cooper, who we called "Blue", would play pool checkers with Little Harry Jenkins.
There was a domino table right beside Mr. Whitlock's barbershop. From early morning until dark, there would be men sitting out there playing dominoes. John Fairbanks, Vernon Whitlock and I would sit out there and watch them play. We got to be good domino players.
John Fairbanks and I watched them for hours. If we caught the table empty with no grown men there, we would play. If the men showed up, we'd have to quit playing and let the men play. Every once in a while they would let us play.
I've got to tell this story.
One day, John and I wandered up town barefooted and were playing dominoes and here came Mr. Willie Benge to town. Mr. Rufus Knight was across the street at the filing station. They both headed to the domino table. I guess they felt bad about breaking up our game so they suggested that John and I play them in a game. I can just see Mr. Willie Benge laughing now.
John and I were partners against Mr. Willie Benge and Mr. Rufus Knight. Mr. Rufus was a great domino player. Mr. Willie was one of those who studied and concentrated on the game. Players got seven dominoes a piece and after two or three plays or rounds, Mr. Willie would almost know what was in everybody's hand; who had what and who didn't have what.
In this game, Mr. Willie was playing ahead of me. He had already figured out the dominoes that I didn't have and he knew I didn't have the 5x4 by the way we had played the first two or three rounds. He played me wide open to a count knowing I didn't have the 5x4. I'd show up with the 5x4 and score 15 or 20 points.
Mr. Rufus was also keeping up with who had what. He knew John Fairbanks didn't have the 6x4 because he had been opened to that play before and didn't play it. John would show up with the 6x4 and score.
The game went on and on. Mr. Whitlock caught up with his barbering and came out to watch. Other domino players began to show up. They were all anxious to get the table but that game was going on and John and I were beating Mr. Willie and Mr. Rufus.
Those other men were whooping and laughing. Boy, Mr. Willie never cracked a smile. He never quit studying and humming. Mr. Rufus was just desperate. He was mad. We were just tearing them up. All those men knew that John and I were pretty good players.
After a while, here came one of John's older brothers, Carey Fairbanks. He was about four years older than us. Carey stood there and watched us play. All of a sudden, Carey yelled, "Them suckers are passing the dominoes under the table!" He had caught us.
What was happening was John wasn't supposed to have the 6x4. Mr. Rufus played him safe for that, he thought. I had the 6x4 and put it between my toes and passed it to John under the table. John did the same for me on the 5x4.
We'd been playing for an hour or more. I'll never forget the looks on the faces of Mr. Willie Benge and Mr. Rufus Knight as we played. They had the darnedest looks on their faces. They just couldn't figure out how two little boys were beating them.
Later on, the men had domino parties. They would invite different people to their houses and usually played late in the evenings or at night.
After I got grown, I started playing dominoes with the older men. We didn't have a domino table up town anymore but at least once a week someone had a domino party at their house.
One night, Mr. Claude Enright was having a domino party at his house and somebody at the last minute told him they couldn't come that evening. Mr. Claude asked me to play. He knew I played. After that, when they needed a fill-in, they would call me. I got to be a regular at only twenty-five years old; playing with men who were sixty-five and seventy years old. We would start at about six in the evening and play until ten or eleven at night.
I played with Price Wilkinson, Claude Enright, Cameron Coney, Aubrey Brooks, T. J. Peniston, Ed Stephens and Simon Meyers. Goodness, they enjoyed those games! I know that Mr. T. J., Mr. Price and Mr. Claude would have rather played dominoes than eat! They thoroughly enjoyed it. They didn't enjoy it any more than I did. I'd hear we were going to play that evening and I would just be excited.
Several years ago, Mr. Price Wilkinson who was in his early 90s had been playing with Mr. Brooks, Mr. Dent and Mr. Garland Furr. Mr. Dent died and Simon Meyers started back playing with them then quit. Mr. Price asked me to start playing with them again.
Every Thursday night we'd meet up at Mr. Price's house and play dominoes. It ended up with me and Mr. Price playing Mr. Garland Furr and Little Zeb York, old man Zeb York's grandson. We played just like we had in the past. There would be some hot competition. We'd laugh at each other, argue with each other, complain and make excuses.
I remember one night Mr. Price and I were beating them real bad. We must have played fifteen games that night and we had won about twelve of the games. Mr. Price was just a laughing. He would get almost hysterical. I can just see him rubbing his hands together, clapping and laughing.
As everybody got ready to leave, I called out to Little Zeb to tell him he had left his hat. He came back in the house and said he didn't wear a hat. Oh man, Mr. Price Wilkinson laughed! I had made Little Zeb come back inside for his hat and he hadn't even worn one.
Mr. Brooks and Mr. Coney told me about the time they had been out at Mr. Price Wilkinson's house some years before to play dominoes. Mr. Price was on the losing end of the game. Of course, that wasn't funny to him. He didn't like to lose.
They got to the door, getting ready to go home and Mr. Price almost pushed them out the door. Just as the door closed a huge down pour of rain began. They said it was like he just pushed them out in the rain because they had beaten him at dominoes.
I wouldn't give a flip for playing dominoes with just anybody. Playing with that bunch of men who were all older than me was just something I really enjoyed. I miss them.
Mr. Price Wilkinson would have been 100 years old on July 3rd. He died last winter  and didn't quite make the 100.
All of them are gone now. I miss my old domino partners. I sure do.
Note: Parts 1-28 of 'The Stories That Should Be Told' can be found in the Tags List on the right-hand side of the blog.