Judy Kay-Wolff

Surprise, Surprise!!

Fully acknowledging that this is primarily a bridge blogging site about our wonderful game, I am taking poetic license as I cannot dismiss the fact that what I am about to report would never have occurred had I not been a veteran, dyed-in-the-wool bridge disciple (viewed by some as an ‘addict’). I was about to celebrate a ‘big’ birthday on June 12th. Thus, you will understand how overwhelmed and dumbfounded I was when my friend Martha Beecher invited me to lunch four days prior to the actual occasion — which resulted in my casually entering an unusually hushed room (clad in ordinary everyday grubs) at a lovely Summerlin restaurant to tumultuous shouts of ‘Surprise, Surprise.’ I was speechless (a rare occurrence for me) as I found myself in a catatonic state like rigor mortis was setting in. When I recovered, I saw a room overflowing with three dozen of Bobby’s and my closest Las Vegas buddies (AND… my sister and nephew who had flown in from Philadelphia). It was like someone had psyched on me and I didn’t have the foggiest notion I had been set up.

My daughter Robin (who is blessed with Norman’s genes in many areas, including bridge) commutes between Las Vegas and Scottsdale (and sometimes even LA). Her hectic daily routine is replete with many close friends and poker buddies and devotes time as well to her wholesale DVD business. She has forsaken bridge in favor of poker (sad, sad as her dad thought she had what it takes)… but whatever floats her boat is fine with me! Unbeknownst to me, for the last two months, she had been deviously planning my surprise 80th. In fact, these last few weeks she seemed to be working 24/7 and even got testy when I unexpectedly entered the room while she was plotting away at Bobby’s computer. This was unlike the sweet Robin we all know and love. She just wasn’t herself and I was concerned she was in the throes of a breakdown, overwhelmed by the many responsibilities she had taken on. Wrong!! When I gazed upon the entourage last Sunday, I began to understand her anxiety and greatest fear… my stumbling upon the surprise. Her concerns were in vain, trust me. I never suspected a thing!

My nephew Steven, who flew in from Philly for the occasion, opened the shindig by reading a poem (which I confess is a dim memory as I had not recovered from the initial shock). He prefaced his delivery by asking me to close my eyes as another surprise was in store. My sister Deedy surfaced from behind a drape where she had been hiding. Robin hosted and hid Deedy and Steven who had flown in from Philadelphia a couple days before. As I started to regain my senses (and admittedly I was numb for a while), I walked around to greet my guests who had sheepish grins on their faces as Robin had done a number on me. On the tables were three incredibly adorned centerpieces steeped in large black wicker baskets with mirrored tops where over a dozen pronged picks were imbedded in each to support appropriate ornaments and miniature photos of me at all stages of life (covering eight decades). They dramatized significant occasions of my time on earth (including grade school, junior and senior highs, summer camp, college mementos, hobbies, business ventures, my favorite pastimes and more). The latter included amateur show productions, my twenty-year baseball card business, trotter and pacer ownership, blackjack, blogging, bridging… just for starters). One foot high glittery silver markers with the number 80 were prominently emblazoned atop the remembrances. Robin also reproduced my high school graduation yearbook for people to autograph. Would that not all have sufficed, there were flowers and wall posters with pictures, pictures and more pictures. I wouldn’t blame my guests if they were sick of looking at my face before I even made my grand appearance.

A delicious leisure lunch was served and the show was about to begin. Robin had confiscated not only the pictures… but raided my storage room for copies of lyrics from several amateur shows I had penned for family and friends over a forty-year period, re-worded them to reflect my interests and escapades — updating them to capture Judy Kay-Wolff in 2014. Every song was heralded by a rousing applause as the professional singer and piano player made it reminiscent of a Broadway production which went on for about twenty-minutes. Missing, of course, was Norman (who was a big part of the early productions) and my son Larry who lives on the East Coast. Bobby enjoyed the show… but for a moment we were concerned as he was MIA.  He was unfamiliar with the location of the restaurant so he stealthily followed (at a fair distance behind) the car with Martha at the wheel and me as the passenger. His aptitude for directions is not as good as his bridge prowess and somehow he found himself ahead of Martha (whom originally he was tailing)… but eventually showed up a moment after us… with a silly look on his face as the surprise was perfected.

Hold everything… there’s more. Robin also wrote to family and friends from out of town who sent (addressed to her) emails, discs, letters, poems which recounted marvelous, hilarious stories I had long forgotten. Eventually, everything will go into a scrapbook. The magnificence of the many floral arrangements sent across the miles likened my living room to a mortuary… although undeniably nicer to enjoy their fragrances as I live and breathe… rather than as a tribute in the hereafter.

The ‘sweetest’ memento I have saved for last: A personalized Hershey Chocolate Bar. The purple wrapper featured a photo of a curly haired youngster, clad in a short navy coat with a white pique collar, taken on the Boardwalk in Atlantic City… sometime in the mid 1930’s. The front side bore the words ‘Almost 80 — JUDY IS Still a Babe!” Most guests were seen munching on the candy as they said their goodbyes. A few moments ago, as I was checking the exact wording, one of the bars fell off the table and landed on its back. As I picked it up, I accidentally caught a glimpse of the reverse side. It was better than the front. Robin creatively altered the cautionary health information. It said: “Nutrition Facts: Total Fat: Does it really matter? It’s Judy’s Birthday!!” followed by “Sodium: Enough to make you thirsty for more cake.” and concluding with “Protein: What’s that?”

An afternoon I will never forget .. until the dementia sets in.


Sam SchumanJune 16th, 2014 at 3:38 am

I am sorry I missed a great celebration of your milestone. I so enjoyed all the great years of working for you. Judy you are still the Best! I hope I can make it to your 90th.

Judy Kay-WolffJune 16th, 2014 at 4:11 am

Thanks, Sam. Kay’s Baseball Cards, Inc. couldn’t have been what it was without you! I hope “I” make it to my 90th too!

All the best to you and Bob!


Peggy SutherlinJune 16th, 2014 at 6:51 am

Enjoyed the posting. Belated happy birthday. I didn’t know Robin was living in the area. Nice for you.

Judy Kay-WolffJune 16th, 2014 at 10:14 am

Hi Peggy,

Wonderful hearing from you. I really miss you and John and the fun times we had in Dallas. Hope we’ll be seeing you both in July at the Nationals.

Yes, Robin migrated West several years ago and Bobby and I see a lot of her although her life is pretty active (more like hectic) as she is always on the go. However, she did arrange to play with me a few days at the LVH next month.

My love to you both.

DarwinJune 16th, 2014 at 2:43 pm


Happy Birthday, sounds like you had a great time. We wish you happiness and good health for many more birthdays. See you at the NABC;s in LV.

Darwin and Kay

Howard Bigot-JohnsonJune 16th, 2014 at 3:20 pm

HBJ : What a milestone. And clearly age is no bar to being a great blogger and inspirational writer. Let’s hope there are many more blogs to come , important issues to be put under the spotlight , and fascinating stories from your past.
Best regards HBJ

Judy Kay-WolffJune 16th, 2014 at 3:33 pm

Hi Darwin and Kay:

What was so rewarding for me was that EVERYONE seemed to have a great time. It was one surprise after another as no one knew what was next to come. Robin really outdid herself and was so deserving of rave notices. Look forward to seeing you again next month. LV seems to be a big drawing card and why not? It has so much to offer. Just don’t bring too much money!

Judy Kay-WolffJune 16th, 2014 at 3:52 pm

Good morning HBJ:

Such a compliment coming from the clever author of “The Bizarre World of Bridge” — a cynical (but on point) capsulization about the self-serving bridge bodies who are more real than fictional.

You allude to a milestone. Venues like blogging, I believe, help to keep one’s mind sharp. It has served as a real upper for me because I have met so many incredible people from all over the universe who share a common love.

Old age does have its rewards!

Judy Kay-WolffJune 16th, 2014 at 5:33 pm

I am writing to you from my hairdresser’s station. Diane, whom I have loved from the day I began using her six years ago, was a confederate of Robin’s (who is also her client) .. and we have become good friends and confidants.

I thought nothing of it when Diane asked me to move my appointment up a day from Monday to Sunday as she CLAIMED she had a sudden change of schedule and was not working Monday. However, it was all a part of the subterfuge. Robin wanted to make sure I didn’t look like a Zulu warrior when I made my grand entrance at Cafe Siena so she arranged to force me to see her on Sunday. One of the first people I spotted as the shouts of ‘Surprise’ reverberated throughout the room was Diane .. with a sheepish grin on her face.

Just shows you .. you can’t trust anyone!

MarthaJune 16th, 2014 at 11:29 pm

It was a wonderful party and will be the Talk of the Town for quite a time. Robin directed and produced a tremendous tribute to her mother. I know, I enjoyed my small roll in the production. I was so thrilled to see the look on Judy’s face when we entered the room. Surprised, YES!! I still don’t know how Bobby got ahead of me. I never saw him. Must be one of those Nevada Stealth cars. You have heard about them, but now you can talk to Bobby about them.

Judy Kay-WolffJune 17th, 2014 at 12:24 am


Don’t be modest. It was a good move for you to be the designated driver. We arrived at the right place in a timely manner and as everyone witnessed, I was in outer space! Thanks for playing the straight man!

Bill CubleyJune 18th, 2014 at 1:28 pm

HAPPY BIRTHDAY! Been away walking some battlefields at Gettysburg with 90 year old Ed Bearss. Hard to keep up with him, but I managed. A lot like my bridge game.

Judy Kay-WolffJune 18th, 2014 at 2:47 pm

Hi Bill:

Sounds like a wonderful experience. History was always my favorite school subject .. way back when .. and I loved reading about the Civil War. I didn’t see “Lincoln,” but Bobby rates it as one of the most marvelous movies he has ever seen.

As to ‘keeping up,” I don’t face that challenge anymore as most of my time is consumed at my computer.

Thanks for the birthday greetings.

Robb GordonJune 18th, 2014 at 4:23 pm

A belated Mazel Tov!

My Linda had a milestone birthday a few days ago as well!

Judy Kay-WolffJune 18th, 2014 at 4:59 pm

Hi Robb:

Appreciate your ‘belated’ good wishes. Never too late! Look forward to seeing you next month in Vegas. Except for SF (and LV), we haven’t been to an NABC in five years. Shocking .. as Bobby and I might win combined attendance records over an extended period of years.

Best to you and Linda,


Dixie PerkinsonJune 26th, 2014 at 1:30 am

Robin did such a fantastic job putting your Milestone Extravaganza together. Another amazing thing was the fact that you, Judy, did not hear whispers about it ahead of time. Your friends were so excited just waiting for the day, yet no one “let the cat out of the bag”. Your party was the best I have ever seen and your reaction upon entering the hushed room was pure shock! Great job Robin and many, many more Happy ones my dear friend Judy.

Judy Kay-WolffJune 26th, 2014 at 1:39 am

Hi Dixie, that party was no doubt the biggest shock of my life. Had I the ‘foggiest’ notion, I would have been all dolled up and taken more time to hide my wrinkles. Robin outdid herself. She is indeed very ‘special!’

Cheers, Judy

Art KorthJuly 3rd, 2014 at 6:13 pm

Happy belated birthday, Judy! And remember, 80, just like 1100, is just another number!

Judy Kay-WolffJuly 3rd, 2014 at 7:14 pm

Hi Art , Nice to hear from you after losing touch for so many years. Are you still as active .. and are we going to see you in Vegas at he Nationals?

As far as your analogy to numbers. .. you are right on target .. although I would rather score up 1H making than go down four doubled vulnerable (and we’ve all been there)!



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