No such thing as a bridge too far

Group of Chartwell card play­ers get their reg­u­lar game on track via the Water­loo Cen­tral Rail­way

The Woolwich Observer - - NEWS - VERON­ICA REINER

A CLAS­SIC CARD GAME stirs up fond mem­o­ries for se­niors Harry Stewart and Betty Brown. They’ve con­tin­ued a tra­di­tion of playing a weekly game of bridge in the games room of Chartwell Elmira Re­tire­ment Res­i­dence for the past two years. Last week, how­ever, they took the game on the road with the Water­loo Cen­tral Rail­way in St. Ja­cobs.

“I used to play bridge on the train in 1951,” said Stewart. “I’ll tell you one thing, it’s the best game in the world.”

“Harry was on the train from Toronto to Van­cou­ver back in 1951,” ex­plained Jeff Beatty, who works in main­te­nance at Chartwell and joins in the tra­di­tion. “He didn’t know any­thing about bridge, but some of the other play­ers on the train needed a fourth be­cause you need to have four play­ers. So Harry of­fered to play. And they played day and night from Toronto to Van­cou­ver for three days. They only got a cou­ple of hours of sleep.”

For last Thurs­day’s out­ing, they were joined by Carla Schott, who also works at Chartwell. Their pas­sion for the game in­spired her.

“I played bridge in Grade 7 and liked it, but never played again,” said Schott. “I started up again when I heard these guys were playing I thought, ‘oh, maybe I should try that.’”

The trip was ar­ranged in cel­e­bra­tion of Stewart’s birthday, with both Brown and Stewart now be­ing oc­to­ge­nar­i­ans.

“We were think­ing of dec­o­rat­ing the games room where we nor­mally play, but it’d be much more dif­fi­cult to make it look like a rail­road car,” said Beatty. “So we came up with the idea of ‘let’s just take a real train and do it!’ So that’s how it came about.”

The set­ting was also par­tic­u­larly spe­cial to Brown, who has a par­tic­u­lar fond­ness for trains that dates back decades.

“Betty was the real train fa­natic,” said Beatty. “She used to live in Belleville; ev­ery­body in Belleville used to work for the rail­road. So she has many fond mem­o­ries of train ex­pe­ri­ences. Even go­ing back to when the troops were go­ing to war. They would wait on the plat­form and wave to the troops and hand out ci­garettes. She re­canted that story dur­ing our game.”

Bridge is a trick-tak­ing card game that uses a stan­dard 52-card deck played where four play­ers in two di­vided part­ner­ships aim to win as many tricks as pos­si­ble. It be­came popular in the 1930s.

“No­body knows much about the game,” said Beatty with a laugh. “Three of us here have got 50+ years of ex­pe­ri­ence playing bridge, and we still don’t know any­thing about it.”

[VERON­ICA REINER / THE OB­SERVER]

Chartwell se­niors and work­ers took their two-year bridge tra­di­tion to the Water­loo Cen­tral Rail­way last week. Play­ers pic­tured are Carla Schott, Betty Brown, Harry Stewart and Jeff Beatty.

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