Judy Kay-Wolff


I cannot confirm what year the event below actually occurred. It never entered my mind at the time that my playful stabs at poetic banter would ever be resurrected other than for my own personal pleasure.   What I can state with certainty was this cold tale began late on New Year’s Eve sometime in the late Sixties or early Seventies.

The Kays’ annual New Year setting was the home of Edgar and Betty Kaplan who hosted their yearly team event replete with what Edgar called Snow Whites. A Snow White was a delicious form of imbibing to loosen up the male players who were committed to be paired up with their not-so-expert wives .. though there were some obvious exceptions (but I was not one of them). Hors d’oeuvres and marvelous cuisine were available throughout the night — with each pair having a bye-round. Norman and I were the cause of this inconvenient irregularity and we always were assigned the first sit-out, per force.  Norman could not leave his stock brokerage job until the tolling bell on December 31st, causing us to arrive after the scheduled starting time (as the trip by train and cab was almost three hours).  It was a very popular event and replacements were waiting in the wings — so until someone either moved away or met their maker, there were no openings as the regulars clung to their seats.   Observers joshed and speculated about the going rate on the street to ‘buy‘ a place in the game!

Our routine was unalterable. Arrive late; grab a bite; enter the fray at Round 2; socialize after the game; catch some shuteye on the 4th floor of Edgar and Betty’s brownstone; and take the 6 a.m. train back to Philadelphia. It is interesting to note that Norman and Bobby had more than bridge prowess in common!   Neither of them would have considered missing the TV kickoff of a Bowl Game – so our annual trips were of brief duration.

However, one year there was a major snafu. When we reached for our coats stored in Edgar’s first floor closet, mine was visible but hanging in the absence of Norman’s – was a strange colored garb which could not accommodate his girth. Being of no value, Norman did not accept the tradeoff. Obviously, not wanting to rouse our host and hostess at 5 a.m., a coatless Norman accompanied me as we trudged down West 94th Street in search of a taxi and luckily was able to hail one after waiting only ten minutes in the blizzard. During one of the Bowl Game half-time breaks, Norman called Edgar who had been anticipating his call. Earlier, Alan Truscott had telephoned the Kaplans, explaining that the Snow Whites had done their duty and at 2 a.m., in an exhausted state, carelessly grabbed a coat and he and Dorothy headed for home, not discovering his faux pas till morning.

Two days later we received Norman’s coat with an accompanying poem typed on The New York Times stationery entitled “Unhappy New Year to a Philadelphia Stockbroker.”  Alan’s poem (which is a masterpiece) I will save for another occasion, bore the following introduction:

“Dear Mr. Kay, I hope you never discover the name of the Anonymous Penitent.” (Not to be outdone, I responded in kind for Norman).



Diamonds are red – clubs are black

All I want is — my own coat back

Replete with gloves – and scarf – and keys

The way you found it – if you please

I cannot understand – your taste

You must have acted – in wild haste

For if vicuna – was the booty

Or perchance – a cashmere beauty

I could see – whyfor the snatch

For it would be – a worthwhile catch

But what you GRABBED – was no great shake

And what you LEFT – I would not take

Your name is known – in many lands

For stealing – overtricks and hands

But I thought – you were confined

To robbing STRANGE – opponents blind

‘Cause never did I – once suspect

That coats of TEAMMATES – you collect

Or this flash – of kleptomania

Would touch a friend – from Pennsylvania!


RikitikiJanuary 2nd, 2009 at 3:38 pm

Your archives are unbelievable. Loved your response to Alan Truscott. I think

that everyone (knowing what a sensational writer Alan was) would love you to

post and share his original poem to Norman. Your blogs are very ‘different’ and you are resurrecting bridge history for us.

a little humor is appreciated with the start of 2009. My friend called very early New Year’s day to report a theft!!! Someone had broken into his home and stolen his coat. Alas, he had left it at the night before party. Some one should tell those coats that they need to go home with “them that brought em”.

jack mendelsohnJanuary 4th, 2009 at 3:50 am

Judy, What a delightful story. You guys really had some great times. I loved your poem. Also you were a saint to leave at 5am so Norman could watch a game. Too bad there were no VCR’s.

Gary M. MugfordJanuary 5th, 2009 at 7:30 am


My Alan Truscott story …

Alan and I were in the pressroom at a NABC in Buffalo. In the course of a conversation, Alan described something as plebeian. He pronounced it, pleh-BEE-an. I, of course, being brought up on the right side of the pond, errr, the left side of the ocean, knew the word was pronounced PLEEB-ee-an. After all, we call the rookie army cadets PLEEBS. I had him.

Since we had agreed to play an afternoon side game, the entry fees were put up as a bet. Thus proving how big a sucker I was. Alan always had a cabbage roll of ACBL scrip around to pay for entry fees and needed a free game naught at all. But the wager had to have some sort of pay-off and he was willing to take my money.

Of course, the only dictionary on hand proved to be a British one. Since the whole point of the exercise was, in fact, to prove American pronounciation, we went off to find another dictionary. Eventually we found a Webster’s and a New American. And naturally, in both, the offered the possibility of two spellings … and one pronounciation. Pleh-BEE-an.

I paid the fees. We had a pleasant game. I’m sure the twinkle in his eye was as much from putting me in my place as sitting in a bridge game.

All in all, it was far from a plebeian game.

Judy Kay-WolffJanuary 5th, 2009 at 2:08 pm

Gary: Loved your story and your style. If I didn’t know better, I would have flattered you

by saying ‘you should have been a writer!’