Judy Kay-Wolff

REMEMBERING JULIUS ROSENBLUM

Every fourth year the prestigious Rosenblum Team Cup is held by the WBF and in 2010 it was in Philadelphia where the laurels went to our young U. S. Team who received plaudits and respect from all over the world for such a fantastic achievement.  However, when I think of Julius Rosenblum, my mind flashes back to the Nationals in New Orleans in 1967   Incidentally, although Memphis born, he moved to the Bayou area in 1935.   Besides my first breakfast at Brennan’s, another of my most memorable experiences was when the world renown Preservation Hall Jazz Band marched onto the bridge site providing music and excitement never to be forgotten.  However, of all my associations with Julius, I remember most vividly Miami Beach, 1967, when as npc of Norman’s team (with Kaplan, Murray, Kehela, Roth and Root), he hosted a dinner at the famous original Florida site of Joe’s Stone Crabs, located on 1st Street in Miami Beach – a world revered seafood landmark.  I recently learned it was one of Bobby’s favorite dining spots as well.

I hadn’t thought of “Joe’s’ in years, but we kept seeing billboards along I-95 and so to celebrate Bobby’s Birthday ( for which I traditionally insist on “treating”) we postponed his October 14th soiree to last night, as the actual night of his birthday we were wearily just jetting down from our trip to Philly   The LV site is called Joe’s Seafood Prime Steak & Stone Crab, located in the Forum Shops at Caesars.  By the throngs at the tables and waiting in line, you would never know we are in the throes of a recession.  It took us five years to finally partake in one of their meals, but I have already made reservations for our 7th anniversary dinner on Pearl Harbor Day.

Forgive my getting sidetracked!   Let’s get back to the incredible Julius Rosenblum.   He has quite a track record – being President of the ACBL in 1951 and the WBF from 1970-76.  He began playing in ‘43 and won his first major championship in 1944.  Julius has captained many Bermuda Bowl Teams and also has the distinction of not only captaining but playing briefly on a team in 1951 where the U. S. beat the Italians.  He also captained U. S. International Teams in 1963, 1966, 1967 and 1968.  Because of his distinguished service to the WBF, he was also appointed to the Committee of Honor in 1974.  The IBPA bestowed upon him the Charles Goren “Man of the Year Award” in 1975 and the Australian Bridge Federation also named him to Life Membership, the first non-Australian to be so honored.   Julius was named ACBL Honorary Member in 1970 as well.   He passed away in 1978 at the spry age of 72 — about six months prior to the celebration of the first Rosenblum held at the World Championship in New Orleans.

The above information was retrieved from our Bridge Encyclopedia – but I must conclude by adding that “Behind every great man, there is a great woman” and I could not close this blog without a well-deserved tribute to a special Southern Belle named Natalie Rosenblum who was one of the most charming and gracious grande dames I have ever had the pleasure of meeting and calling my friend.

Now, perhaps the Rosenblum Team Cup will not be merely just ‘another event’ to our readers.


8 Comments

JaneOctober 28th, 2010 at 1:57 am

I remember the old days when you used to sit around and tell stories of your newfound exposure to the giants of the bridge world and one of the Rosenblum stories I immediately recalled had to do with your obsession for Breakfast at Brennan’s and three consecutive morning outings. In our youth, we had cast iron stomachs, I suppose.

However, when I saw your tribute to Natalie Rosenblum it made me laugh to remember one omitted, shall we say, nauseating tale?

You had been invited to the Rosenblum residence about to parktake in some elegant dinner when apparently three consecutive mornings of Eggs Benedict did you in and you got so violently ill before dinner, Natalie medicated you and lifted the sheets of her bed coverings where you recuperated for four hours while everyone else was partaking in the scrumptious dinner party the floor below.

That’ll teach you to watch all that rich food.

Judy Kay-WolffOctober 28th, 2010 at 3:01 am

Jane:

You’ve got a good memory. In fact, it is even funnier than you know. My first official date with Bobby in 2003 was after we were engaged. The tournament was in New Orleans and Bobby wanted to surprise me for breakfast. As the taxi pulled up in front of Brennan’s — my stomach sunk as all I could think about was my embarrassed confinement to the Rosenblum bedroom some thirty-five years earlier.

However, not being a glutton for punishment, I ordered something simple and laughingly shared my earlier pig-out experience with Bobby.

I haven’t had any Eggs Benedict since and believe me, that ain’t no yolk!

Judy

Judy Kay-WolffOctober 28th, 2010 at 4:29 am

It’s amazing how one story can trigger other long forgotten ones. Jane’s comments called to mind the potentially dangerous trip the U.S. team was taking to Deauville, France in 1967 for the world championship. The team was Kaplan/Kay; Jordan/Robinson; and Roth/Root.

Right about the time we were making travel plans, some serious brouhaha was taking place in France where there were dangerous student uprisings. Instead of flying directly to Deauville, France, arrangements were made to fly via NY to London (holdover there till things were safe) and then fly over the English Channel to a city on the French Border and be motored 13 hours to Deauville. Big disappointment to only see the outskirts of Paris as at that time I had never been there.

Julius was the Team Captain and he got a panicky call from Bob Jordan who proclaimed he had a new wife and three children and did not want to endanger his life as he had so much to live for (like the other five players didn’t). He tried to get out of the trip but Julius agreed to Bob personally (at his request) that he’d have a special boat (with captain) waiting to accommodate him in case Deauville was attacked and the boat offered a venue of escape. (Of course, there was no danger and no boat awaiting Bob — though Bob relaxed under the assumption there was). We joked about it for years.

It all seems so preposterous now. The team and spouses spent a few lovely days shopping and touring London — my favorite being Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum and the war headquarters of Winston Churchill. We also lived on sumptuous Dover Sole at some upscale London Hotel where we were staying. It was a wonderful couple of days.

Then we were off over the channel on an old RAF plane (with, believe it or not, no seat belts), arrived on the French coast for our tedious 13 hour trip to Deauville.

It was a fun experience held at a palacial Deauville Casino and I recall Omar being there and always (though modestly) being the center of attraction, He sure did love the action there!

My last remembrance of Deauville was being awakened often in the middle of the night by blasts from the harbor. We later learned that thirty years after WWII, the French Security Operations were still finding and detonating live mines and they went off like clockwork every evening. This was far from an ordinarily relaxing vacation on the Riviera.

So much for Julius, Bob Jordan’s imaginary boat and captain and an exciting two weeks in Deauville.

RBKOctober 28th, 2010 at 6:48 am

You forgot the best story of all — The Miracle of Montreal.

Judy Kay-WolffOctober 28th, 2010 at 7:33 am

Can’t argue with you on that. I believe I may have told it about a year ago on the site — but for you newcomers …

In the mid sixties, I was the mother of two babies (11 months apart). Life was hectic but because of Norman’s involvement with Edgar and his teammates, I always had to play baby sitter during the Nationals and I was not a happy camper.

Finally, when the Montreal National arose, I asserted myself and insisted on going. The kids were about 1 and 2 at the time. We compromised. There was a Mixed Pair toward the end of the week and Norman invited me to come in to play with him.

There was some extraneous background as Julius, his dear friend, captain and a client , asked Norman if he would play in the Blue Ribbons (or Opens?) with him (not sure which).

Knowing what a tough event it was, Norman was sure he and Julius would be knocked out reasonably early and he would be free to play. The Mixed was being held on two consecutive afternoons and being new, could use the rest so I jumped at this gracious invitation.

However, things went awry. Not only did Juliius and Norman qualify, but they were up there and possibly leading. Obviously, because of this turn of events, I schlepped all the way to Montreal for nothing — possibly to sightsee as Norman unpredictably was not available to partner me.

Because of my sulking in Edgar’s suite that night, Norman felt guilty and innocently asked Edgar if he knew anyone (they didn’t have to be that good, he added) who would play with his disgruntled wife. Edgar popped up spontaneously with “I’ve got the perfect person!” I lit up!

Happily, and relieved of guilt, my husband asked “who?????” to which Edgar smiled and said ME ! Norman countered, “I wouldn’t think of letting you do that” — but I interrupted with “BUT I WOULD — AND YOU’RE ON, THANK YOU”. Norman was visibly upset but it is known as toughies!!!!!!

The long and the short of it — my only three responsibilities were: 1) If Edgar led a suit, return it; 2) If he bid a suit and I had support raise as high as I can; and 3) If I had trouble counting (what was that I wondered) just count trump. Easy game!

When the verdict was in, we won overall — beating the the Cappallettis by ONE HALF OF A POINT. Truly, THE MIRACLE OF MONTREAL! Why? It was all because Julius Rosenblum played so well and kept Norman in their event, so Norman was not freed up to play with me. KAPLAN/KAY; KAY/KAPLAN — what’s the difference anyway? All “Ks” look alike to me and were both great legends.

Another reason for my “Remembering Julius Rosenblum.”

JoanieOctober 28th, 2010 at 12:28 pm

Judy:

You really ought to write that book. Your bridge life experiences are so diverse and interesting and it would be such a treat to hear more about those oldtimers.

Joanie

Judy Kay-WolffOctober 28th, 2010 at 2:44 pm

Thanks for the encouragement Joanie — but The Lone Wolff was enough literary work for me in one lifetime. Free lancing is my style.

This way I am free to work at my leisure (which is miniscule), keep up with the current glitches, try to help bridge move forward and regain its former majesty and recall personal stories as they occur to me from days gone by. Otherwise, they wlll die wth me!

In fact, this has nothing to do with the subject of Julius Rosenblum, but it reminded me of an incident with the famous Al Sobel (former husband of Helen Sobel Smith). I later learned he was the Chief ACBL Director in the 50s and 60s of most of the major tournaments.

Norman and I were married a short time and he was playing in the Trials held in Atlantic City. It was well attended and the ACBL needed as much volunteer help as they could garner, so I signed up for whatever needed to be done.

The tasks did not require brain surgeons (perhaps carrying boards from one room to another, refilling the water pitchers, or some other menial task) — but we were always on call and worked our butts off.

Between sessions, there was a hospitality room where the players would congregate for coffee, cold drinks or some type of nosh. One of the volunteers took a coke and all hell broke lose. THIS WAS FOR THE PLAYERS — not the ‘help.”

SAYS WHO????? I assembled the volunteers, repeated the story and then went to Al Sobel (Mr. Sobel, to us) and told him that unless we were welcome to partake in the snacks and drinks, he should find himself some new lackies pronto or else we’d be history.

It was the quickest union organized in history and Mr. Sobel made an immediate 360 degree turn. For the rest of the tournament those who worked were welcome guests in the players suite.

I was new to the game, had no clue who he was — but I did know that we were being mistreated and was not about to stand for that. Now, they pay the caddies or workers but in those days, things were quite different. In retrospect, I don’t believe I really had the guts to confront him. Maybe if I knew he was the head honcho I would not have been so effusive — but what did I know?

Just another little trip down memory lane.

Bobby WolffOctober 29th, 2010 at 10:08 pm

Speaking of Al Sobel, please allow me to honor his life with a few snippets featuring his versatility.

When I was about 17 years old and in San Antonio, I had the good fortune to be able to play with my dad in a two session Sectional Open Pair held at the Gunter Hotel in downtown San Antonio on the concluding Sunday of the tournament.

In those days there was a sit-down dinner between sessions where Al announced the qualifying pairs with, of course, plenty of comments. Since the scores were not posted, many of the players held their breaths until their names were announced. I, of course, remember Mr. Sobel, when he got to Wolff, pere et fils, and heralded our qualifying, he made nice remarks about my future. When he got to Sidney Lazard who was playing with his new wife, June, he looked around and then immediately stated, I am surprised Sidney is not here, but then again he might have something better to do now instead of listening to me and filling his stomach.

The scene now switches to a Ft. Worth Regional in 1961 when Sidney and I were playing on View-graph against the Jacobys (father ad son) and after we discovered that I, North had a hand with 14 cards I sent it back for correction. Twenty minutes later Al appeared with the board saying that our teammates had already played the hand so his ruling was that we were also to play the hand as is.

I, of course, refused saying how can we get a legitimate bridge result by playing it that way and he replied, “That’s up to you, but that is my ruling”. We decided not to attempt such an idiocy but I was ready for him when he reappeared later asking our result. When he roared into my ears, “What happened”? I said we bid and made 8 clubs. Quiet reigned and no one ever learned for sure whether that board was counted in our match, but it is probable it wasn’t.

Next event involving Al was when I volunteered to do a sheet in the director’s room since one of his director’s had taken sick. While sitting in that room adding away Al and some rebellious chap entered the room yelling at each other.

Finally Al suggested to his foe that he better shut up and do it immediately. It didn’t work so that Al went over to his desk and got a copy of Oswald Jacoby’s signature book on Gin Rummy. He returned and handed the book to the irate man with an admonition that since he will forever now be a Gin Rummy player and not a bridge addict it will behoove him to read this book and concentrate on the “Adjacent card principle” since otherwise he will never beat anyone good.

From then on I never saw that man again and whether he wanted to or not he was forever gone as with “The Wind”.

Al had many talents — bridge, games, music and loyalty. He was often the chief director at WBF events and he was scrupulously fair and unbiased, but above all he loved the game and, at least to my knowledge, always honored it.

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