Judy Kay-Wolff


The year was 1962. One of the Jacobys (either Jim or Ozzie) was in the McKenney Race vying for the most master points accumulated in one year. I was the Team Mascot when Norman, Sidney Silodor, Bob Jordan and Arthur Robinson flew out to the Pittsburgh Labor Day Regional to accommodate them. They were in contention and the evening game was running late – so late that it appeared the five of us were going to miss the last plane back to Philadelphia Sunday night.

Ozzie, as you may be aware, was a cryptographer during World War II and had gotten to know several influential people in high places. When he learned of our impending Eastern Airlines problem, he snatched me from my kibitzing spot and hauled me off to a phone booth, asking me for our flight number. I stood by his side and hung onto every word as he telephoned the airline and in an authoritative, booming voice slowly proclaimed: “THIS IS OSWALD JACOBY!” Ten seconds later, he continued: “There are five passengers scheduled to depart Pittsburgh for Philadelphia at 12:05 A.M. and will be running late. Hold the plane and have two vehicles at the terminal entrance to transport them and their luggage to the flight.” He hung up, escorted me back to the table and asked for the claim tickets we received when we checked our baggage. I was also admonished to lose no time when the game ended and to immediately whisk the other four to the front entrance.

When Norman was dummy, he inquired what happened. I was still in a stupor and whispered, “That Jacoby guy may be a great bridge player – but he is some kind of a nut!” I repeated what I overheard and then instructed the Philadelphia-bound contingent to head for the taxi stand as soon as they compared scores.

Ozzie had two cabs waiting, with all of our luggage stowed in the vehicles, kissed me good-bye, thanked the guys for coming and wished us a safe journey. When we arrived at the terminal, I couldn’t believe my eyes. Two huge jeeps with motors idling were preparing to transport us and our luggage to the aircraft standing in the middle of the runway — ready for immediate takeoff. Of course, it was long before jetports and security clearance and we flew up the stairs and entered the cabin. When we boarded, everyone rose from their seats – curious to see the entourage for whom their flight was delayed half an hour. It was an embarrassing moment – but better than taking a ten hour Greyhound bus ride home in the middle of the night!

I later learned that in his travels, Ozzie became friendly with World War I ace, Eddie Rickenbacker, who was instrumental in establishing Eastern Airlines and he may indeed have been able to pull his plan off if it necessitated speaking to “the right person.” However, I guarantee you the individual on the other end of the phone had no idea who OSWALD JACOBY was, but was so overwhelmed by his convincing delivery and impressive persona – spontaneous arrangements were made to honor his command. I marvel every time I recall Ozzie’s effective dictatorial edict that night in Pittsburgh.


LindaOctober 11th, 2008 at 5:09 pm

My dad was like that. He could make incredible things happen. He used to pull up in front of the theater and tell the doorman to watch his car for his, giving him a big tip. The doorman let him park right there for the show. When Ray and I tried it at the same theater, the doorman just laughed. Some people have that great presence, don’t they?

EvieOctober 11th, 2008 at 9:46 pm

You should put all these stories in a book…I love reading them!

BeckyOctober 14th, 2008 at 7:32 pm

What an incredible story. That definitely would never happen today!