Audio Postcard: Senior Citizens Playing Bridge

Day to Day producer Rob Sachs presents an audio postcard of the competition among senior-citizen bridge players at the Jewish Family Service Center in Los Angeles.

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And now low-tech games--cards. Before poker got so fashionable that card sharpies started showing up in family magazines, people used to play a more refined game. And at the Jewish Family Service Center in West Hollywood, they still do. It's bridge. And once today's kids learn how to hold more than five cards at one time, maybe they'll catch on. Here's a lesson in how to play, courtesy of the microphone of DAY TO DAY producer Rob Sachs.

Ms. RAE SCOTT: Everyone that puts their hand down is a dummy. You can talk to them then.

Ms. KARI BAKER: My name is Kari Baker. I am the senior activities director for Jewish Family Service in West Hollywood.

There's definitely a leader of the group, and her name is Rae.

Ms. SCOTT: My name is Rae, R-A-E, Scott, S-C-O-T-T.

Ms. BAKER: She's like the den mother of the group. She seems to know who should sit where. She gets the game going. She ends the game.

Ms. SCOTT: When you bid, you bid according to the points in your hand. That's bridge.

She bid one spade.

Unidentified Man: Pass.

Ms. SCOTT: Two diamonds.

Unidentified Woman #1: Pass.

Ms. BAKER: Especially with bridge, they follow their rules. They're very particular. There needs to be silence during the game.

Ms. SCOTT: OK, that girl is sitting doing nothing. You could talk to her. That lady.

Ms. EVA HIRSH: My name is Eva Hirsh, H-I-R-S-H. I was born in Germany. We have good cards--somebody has to deal the good cards, then you have to remember all the cards which are out. This is very hard to remember, but it's a challenge. It's a very, very interesting game, especially for older people.

Ms. BAKER: There are studies that talk about as we age, our memory and our ability to concentrate, you know, slowly diminishes. And so I think participating in something like the bridge club is really beneficial.

Ms. SCOTT: You have to concentrate. You have to have a certain talent for cards, otherwise you will never make it.

Unidentified Woman #2: I asked you a heart, why don't you come back with the heart? I asked an hour ago...

Ms. CARLA SOBEL(ph): There are a million that gave up. Couldn't get it. Too tough.

He stole a game.

Unidentified Woman #3: (Unintelligible)...

Unidentified Woman #4: My partner gave away the game.

Ms. SCOTT: You can put it that way. I guess he stole it.

Ms. SOBEL: Carla Sobel, S-O-B-E-L.

Ms. BAKER: One of the most important things that I've found in working with all of the seniors here is that the more involved seniors are in activities and socializing, not just with other seniors, but just of any age group, the better their quality of life is, and the longer they're able to live independently at home as they age.

Ms. EDITHA BETWOLFE(ph): You don't want to be alone, especially not when you're older. My name is Editha Betwolfe. I'm from Germany. It's a circle of friends--besides playing bridge. That means a lot. This whole center means a lot to many people.

Ms. SOBEL: I don't know that I'm a very good player, but I've been playing for a long time. And now I pass.

(Soundbite of music)

CHADWICK: The real deal from the bridge players at the Jewish Family Service Center in West Hollywood.

(Soundbite of music)

CHADWICK: I'm Alex Chadwick. More to come on DAY TO DAY from NPR News.

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