Judy Kay-Wolff

ALAN TRUSCOTT (Columnist, writer, player, quizmaster, tennis-nut, poet) (PART I)

One of the greatest delights in my fifty-five years on the bridge scene was getting to know and respect Alan.  As I alluded to earlier, England’s loss was America’s gain.   However, I must admit after Al Morehead ceased being NYT Bridge Editor, I was very disappointed that Edgar did not fill his shoes — but politics reared its ugly head (a story for another time).   However, I soon got over my disappointment as I got to know Alan and developed a unique friendship with him and Dorothy.

Alan and Dorothy (by this time husband and wife) were frequent visitors to Edgar’s NABC after hours get-togethers in his suite.   The Truscotts were fabulous game players and I was into that sort of stuff myself.   It has been well over forty years and I still remember three quiz questions Alan gave me:  (1)   What four words in the English language end in DOUS?  (2)  What two words bear the vowels (a/e/i/o/u/) only once and in alphabetical order; and (3)  What word is spelled with an "f" but pronounced like a ‘v’.   Believe it or not, I never forgot the answers:   (1)  horrendous, stupendous, tremendous and the hardest one — hazardous; (2) abstemious and facetious; and (3) the one I couldn’t get — ‘of";  Our love for word games (rather than bridge itself) formed our special bond and I always waited breathlessly for each National to learn some of Alan’s new challenges.

As each New year approaches, I will always think of Alan Truscott.  However, here’s a story perhaps you may have already heard –  the famous New Year’s Morning episode after a traditional Kaplan Bridge New Year Party.  Norman and I would arrive late, have the first bye, partake in the festivities with all the NY bigwigs who socialized by playing with their wives or significant others; and at 4 a.m. Norman and I would tiptoe down the stairs, grab our coats and hail a cab for Penn Station (god forbid Norman should miss the start of the first Bowl Game).  One particular January 1st, Norman could not fit into his coat for our return trip.   He then realized next to my coat was one that did not belong to him — taken by mistake after a lot of partying and a few drinks.   Norman braved the snowy cold, got to the Station, arrived safely back in Philly and at 11 o’clock got a call from Edgar with apologies from Alan for carelessly picking up Norman’s coat and leaving his (two sizes smaller).  The next morning, the following arrived  (penned by Alan from Norman’s prospective).

Note:  I have shared this on another occasion but since we have so many new blogging readers, I decided to post it again:

UNHAPPY NEW YEAR (by a Philadelphia Stockbroker from Anonymous Penitent)

Twas on a chilly New Year’s eve

That froze exposed skin

My wife and I were New York bound

To see the New Year In

 

 

In Philadelphia Station then

Half dead and half alive

We jointed a line of other folk

At Sixteen Twenty-Five

 

We still had more than half an hour

To catch the Five o’clock

We shivered in our snailish line

And then had quite a shock

 

When the two tickets we had bought

Four minutes did remain

We ran and ran only to hear

"No more upon this  train"

 

We gazed upon the empty track

Where the 5 p.m. had been

Were told an Amtrak train would leave

When the clock showed seventeen

 

We then ran back, in bitter mood

To the place from whence we came

No line for us — my wife screamed loud

For a supervising dame

 

And she was cold and we were hot

Our tale we did explain

But when she’d found what now we sought

We’d missed another train

 

So New Year’ Eve was rather bad

And warranted a curse

But looking back it seems to me

That New Year’s Day was worse

                              

 

(continuing on by Alan) …………………. 

 

 HAPPY NEW YEAR

The champagne flowed that merry night

Till we were quite afloat

At 4 a.m. some nincompoop

Removed by new top coat

 

He’d got my keys, my scarf, my gloves

I could not vent my spleen

And in exchange I had a coat

That better days had seen

 

On New Year’s Day I shivered home

Suffering from New-Mania

And thought some very nasty thoughts

En route to Pennsylvania

 

(What a captivating and clever sense of humor – and choice of words.  JKW).  Saturday I will post for you Norman’s reply TO:  ANONYMOUS PENITENT  –  FROM:  "A Philadelphia Stockbroker"  (which I composed in retaliation)!


4 Comments

ChuckDecember 30th, 2010 at 9:48 am

Yes, that is a masterpiece from Alan. It captures his sense of humor to a ‘T’. I always loved his writing style — so different.

It really is a pretty funny story that he took Norman’s coat home and didn’t even realize it. I do remember your telling me that Edgar was famous for his “Snow Whites” — his own concoction to ease the pain of playing with one’s own wife or S.O. for a whole evening (maybe not in Alan’s case) but believe me everyone else was doing their heavenly duty. It sounds like the drinks softened the stress and affected Alan’s visIon when he picked up what he thought was his own coat.

I’ll be looking foward to your penning Norman’s response. No one can ever claim that you have no sense of humor. However, in the bridge world, I guess that must come with the territory.

Judy Kay-WolffDecember 30th, 2010 at 10:13 am

Chuck:

I, too, loved Alan’s articles. They were right on key and his writing always semed to fascinate me. The true test — I ran to his NYT bridge column before the crossword puzzle — out of character for me.

I have to confess Alan was very fair press-wise to all the Kays (especially Norman whom he seemed to favor – but with good reason). I even remember seeing my own and Robin’s name on a few occasions when we won something of note or placed high on the list. Everyone enjoyed Alan’s forthrightness and sense of humor and you can understand why I will always treasure Alan’s immediate hilarious apology (in the same box with the returned coat). No wonder I smile every time someone mentions Alan’s name. He was one in a million — and a very charming individual. I really miss him.

John Howard GibsonDecember 30th, 2010 at 7:20 pm

Dear Judy, It’always blows me away to read these wonderful snippets about the great players and personalities of the past : their idiosyncrasies, their humour and rapport, their superstitions, their encounters with another, their respect for the game and all other players, their magical feats at the table. It’s a great shame they cannot be bottled up in wonderful book dedicated to these greats and their contribution to bridge. So thank you for allowing us in to discover these little bits of social history that make for fascinating reading. Yous HBJ

Judy Kay-WolffJanuary 1st, 2011 at 8:42 am

Howard:

Thank you for your kind words. Writing these stories comes to me as easily as Bobby playing bridge and your coming up with some of your bizarre, hilarious fictional (though kidding on the level) tales of woe at the bridge table.

I have boxes and boxes of articles, scrapbooks and stories hidden away that I am sure would make good reading, but I just can’t find enough hours in the day to go through them all. Maybe I should make a New Year’s resolution to seek them out as there is so much more for me to share before my time comes.

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