Judy Kay-Wolff

SAM STAYMAN (with egg on my face)

When most people think of Sam Stayman, two  things comes to mind:   (1) The convention that bears his name; and (2) His adorable, vivacious, loveable wife Tubby (who is anything but) – whose real name is Josephine.   However, I associate Sam Stayman with eggs.  Read on and you will find out why.

Norman and I were married in 1963 (with 315 witnesses) — mostly bridge playing associates of Norman’s which didn’t allow for many others than immediate family and very good friends.  Close second cousins did not make the cut.   That did not sit well either with them or others who were excluded and many people were obviously hurt.  But after all, it was held in a synagogue (not Convention Hall) and there were only so many seats and only so much money my parents could afford.

However, we came up with the solution.   In 1968 we bought a lovely ranch home in Penn Valley, Pa that had a 50 foot living room/dining room.   With Norman’s penchant (as a ML executive) for investing in the market, it left little to furnish that mammoth living room which was devoid of furniture.   However, it certainly served its purpose one afternoon in April a year after we moved to the suburbs.

We had just attended a fabulous after-the-last session soiree at Sam and Tubby’s luxurious Penthouse in NYC.   They had hired (and used before) Norman Sorg, former White House Chef, who made a luxurious  presentation – earning his name The Omelet King.   Norman got the brilliant idea to import him to Philly for a big hoopla (to make up with the many people who never made our wedding list).  Brilliant – we had the space and at that time money was no object.

Norman had to ante-up for the production and I had a few chores of my own.   The Saturday before the party, I was instructed to buy 30 dozen eggs, spinach, onions, peppers, mushrooms, olives, lox, butter, seasonings, coffee, tea, cocktails,  deserts, etc, etc., etc.  I supplied the goodies and The Omelet King brought the rest (his chefs, chairs, tables, cooking utensils, pots, pans, stands, dishes and silverware.   Basically I needed the food and he did the rest.   Sounded like a piece of cake until I woke up that Sunday morning to bring in the newspaper and found a snowstorm in progress as we already had six inches in our driveway and more on the way. 

Bear in mind I was no Julia Child and could barely boil eggs without burning them (although I have improved somewhat).   I returned to bed, covered my head with the blankets and prayed it would subside.   What would I do with 150 locals who were looking forward to this festive occasion.  I did not wake Norman.   What could he do?   Sunday at 6:30 the phone rang.   It was Norman Sorg.   In a cheery voice (knowing in advance about the storm), he assured me he was on his way, was forced off the NJ Turnpike at Bordentown, but had taken the major side road and would be there between 9 and 10 a.m.   He asked if I had the food.   Did I ever!!!!!!   Eventually by noon it stopped snowing, the roads were partially plowed (at least the main ones) and would you believe 130 of the 150 showed up to stuff their faces – and business as usual.

It was a huge success with lots of laughs and incredible cuisine and by nine o’clock, we had to start handing the people their coats and boots and send them on their way.   A traumatic happening in general — but a memorable experience for the Kays and their invitees – all thanks to Sam Stayman.


PegDecember 10th, 2010 at 6:07 am

Great story, Judy. But, what most folks may not know is this. Maybe 75+ years ago, Tubby Stayman was tubby!

My mom grew up with her in Tulsa. Back then, apparently she was a chubette … at least, according to Mom!

Judy Kay-WolffDecember 10th, 2010 at 6:27 am

Hi Peg:

When I met Tubby, she was the cutest “little thing,” a charming personality, always had a smile on her face and was svelte — if anything. I guess it just shows you what the power of the mind and

determination can do for one’s figure. However, I may be at the point of no return.

I enjoyed your history lesson to which we were not privileged. What a turnabout!



CPDecember 12th, 2010 at 9:47 am

I know when I lived on the East Coast there were tons of Stayman/Victor Mitchell stories. However, Victor was a special character and when he played with Sam there were always humorous incidents. Victor was one of the funniest men I ever met on the bridge circuit.