"Wonderful Old Lawrence" by Elfriede Fischer Rowe

Lawrence's Only and Oldest
Team Whist Club

     ALONG WITH ALL ITS CULTURAL ASPECTS, Lawrence has also been known for its many card-playing clubs. It is doubtful if any of the original ones have survived as long as the Monday Team Whist Club. It is well over sixty-five years old.

     To begin with, team whist is unique. It is a highly competitive game. It is played with duplicate boards, but all hands are held up. You rely on memory, legitimate inferential signals from your partner, and your opponents, to take as many tricks as you can with your thirteen-card hand. In Team Whist, the scoring is done the opposite way you score for duplicate bridge. The winning team that has the fewest losses, rather than the highest score, is the winner.

     The Monday Team Whist Club was organized sometime around the turn of the century. It was then called the Monday Whist Club and straight whist was played, as duplicate had not been taken up yet. In 1904, the members decided to make a duplicate game of it, and they called themselves, "The Monday Team Whist Club". As far as can be determined from the records, its original members were: Mrs. Floyd Doubleday; Mrs. Loren Wilson; Mrs. J. T. Shanklin (mother of Mrs. A. J. Boynton); Mrs. Serenity Morrison; Mrs. Frank Anderson; Mrs. James Green, (wife of "Uncle Jimmy" Green, former Dean of the Law School); Mrs. Sol Marks, (mother of Julius Marks); Mrs. W D. Brownell, Mrs. Peter Emery; Mrs. F. H. Smithmeyer, (grandmother of Fred C. Smithmeyer); Mrs. R. C. Morrow, (mother of Mrs. T. J. Sweeney); and Mrs. M. G. Manley, (mother-in-law of Mrs. Robert C. Manley).

     The members were very "choosy'' about their substitutes. They would invite them to substitute for the current year only, so that if they didn't like the way they played or they didn't seem to fit in, they were not invited to participate the next year.

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     Whist is the popular social card game that dates as far back as before 1700. Edmond Hoyle wrote a short treatise on the game of whist in 1742. (Playing cards date back to 1440). Auction bridge and contract bridge came much later. Whist derived its name from the exclamation, "Hiss" and "Whisk", meaning to pay attention, and to be silent. And the Monday Team Whist Club today, still tries to maintain and do just that. When some of the older players were still playing, if a player talked too loud, or made too much noise, a knock on the table would silence her immediately. In the old days there was no conversation during the play.

     Mrs. E. E. Bayles recalls coming home from school when the club was in session, and tiptoeing upstairs to her room. Today, when the players get settled down, sometimes the silence is only broken by the snapping of the cards, as they are played on the table.

     One of the stories passed down by an older member, was that the club met on Mondays, (the traditional wash day), so that everybody would know those members did not do their own washing.

     Mrs. Robert C. Manley, a former member, gave these wise words of advice to a new member: "Don't play too fast; quiet; don't talk over the hands; try to put your Bridge rules out of your mind; leads and discards have to be watched, as you do not have the advantage of seeing the exposed hand, that you do in Bridge."

     Traditions in the Monday Team Whist Club have been carefully guarded. Playing starts every Monday promptly at 2:00 p.m. Fines were imposed in the old days if someone was late, but this has not been carried on. Twenty-five boards are played in an afternoon. When fifteen have been played, tea time is announced. Refreshments are secondary in the club -- the game comes first. Refreshments consist of "one wet and one dry", but they have digressed somewhat on this. Tea and coffee are both offered, a rich dessert, and nuts or candy.

Drawing of teapots, cups and pedestal dishes with candies and such

     The partner of the hostess always pours. Scores are read out loud, identified by the team number and not by the players' names, during the refreshment break, and again at the completion of the 25 boards. The director of the boards and the game, Mrs. E. E. Bayles, (and her job goes on from year to year), designates who the players team up with. Since the beginning of the club, individual scores are kept on each player, (and records date back to 1904), for eleven meetings. This way, each player gets to play with each member sometime in those eleven times. There are no prizes, as the honor of winning is all the players seem to care about.

     The secretary's reports were the usual type, except in 1921, when this bit of whimsy was added: "April 3 -- Mrs. Banks -- A

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rainy day --- the apricot tree in full bloom, but we'll never see it again. It blew down April eighth."

     The secretary's other duty is to call the substitutes if they are needed. The hostess for the next meeting takes the duplicate boards and supplies, (kept in a suit case), home with her and prepares the hands for the next meeting. The cards are dealt out and the last card dealt is the trump suit for that board, and so designated on the score sheet.

     Another tradition that is carefully kept, is that a member who is not physically able to continue playing in the club, still remains a member unless she sends a note of resignation. Her place for play is filled by a substitute. Initiation fees and dues have increased in the last sixty-five years, but they are still modest. They are used for supplies and flowers. But here again, flowers are only sent if members of an immediate family are involved. Through the years, special assessments were made to contribute to some worthy cause, such as Relief Fund; Christmas boxes; Red Cross and Community Chest.

     Today, the present members are: Mrs. Frank Stockton; Mrs. T. D. Funk; Mrs. Worthy Horr; Mrs. E. E. Bayles; Mrs. Will Pendleton; Miss Agnes Thompson; Mrs. Laurence Woodruff; Mrs. W. R. Banker; Mrs. M. F. Hudson; Mrs. Wm. Paden, Mrs. A. T. Walker; Mrs. Fay Brown. Some of the ladies who substitute frequently are: Mrs. Ruth Skinner; Mrs. A. B. Mitchell; Mrs. A. C. Lonborg; and Mrs. Frank Scanlan. The present officers are: Mrs. E. E. Bayles, president, and Mrs. Will Pendleton, secretary.

     Due to the complexity of the game, the club sometimes is hard put for substitutes. However, substitutes are given typed rules to study and usually some of the members arrange an evening or two of play, so as to explain some of the leads and signals. The determination of the dedicated members to keep the club together, along with the enthusiasm of the substitutes, overcomes all obstacles and keeps the club strong.

Printed in Journal-World Feb. 12, 1966

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