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Bridge y Humor por Oren Shafir

 We used to call my grandfather the almost man. He almost met Roosevelt. He almost played chess with Paul Morphy, the greatest American chess player until Bobby Fisher. He almost started his own bakery. He was almost co-owner of Oriole cookies. Would have been a billionaire. He was almost a great musician.

My grandfather almost married Sonya Bauxbaum. But instead, he left Poland for America. He boarded the ship, and kissed his mother goodbye. His father had died when Grandpa was a young boy, and Grandpa had no siblings. This was just before World War II broke out, and he could not have known that he would never see his mother again. She was a domineering personality; she always got her way. She had personally arranged seven out of ten of her nephews’ and nieces’ marriages. Her one great failure was not getting Grandfather married off to Sonya Bauxbaum. The perfect match everyone agreed. She was loud; he was quiet. She had a business head; he had no skills. She was a mensch; so apparently, according to my great-grandmother, he wasn’t. But to everyone’s astonishment, she could not get him to follow her will. She’d wanted him to marry Sonya, move to Germany and run a jewelry shop. All the details of the business and marriage were in place. But, he had a silent power. Instead, he was sailing for America.

"My mother was a tough lady," he said to me once with tears in his eyes, "but she loved me with a mother’s devotion, and what more can a son ask."

He told me how he boarded the ship and kissed her goodbye. She took his then smooth hands in hers and said, "Whatever you do, don’t be a baker like your father. It’s back-breaking work."

He found his small berth and locked his things there. He walked slowly around the huge ship and up and down the deck levels. He saw a grand piano in the dining room and could not resist. So, he sat and played softly for a while. As he continued walking around the ship, he heard Yiddish and found that it was three fellows about his age. Two of them were the Abromovic brothers on their way to join their father and work in his bakery in New York. They were just talking to the third guy, Josef Weinstein, about how great it would be if they could find a fourth to play bridge on the long journey ahead, and there was my grandfather, almost a great bridge player. They all decided to have a game immediately while they were waiting for the ship to leave harbor. After an hour of cards, they felt the ship moving out of harbor. The game was stopped, and they hurried up on bridge. Then it was that my grandfather was amazed to find his mother still waiting on land below, teary-eyed, to wave goodbye to her only son.

 


Scenes from a Punjabi Childhood

 

 Grandfather valued routine, and at five o’clock his friends would arrive to play bridge. Some of them smoked the hookah while they played. Soon afterwards the family barber appeared and he gave give each bridge-player a shave, and would even oblige with a haircut if needed. After playing a few rubbers, grandfather would get up, ask for his cane and leave with his friends for the Company Bagh. As they walked, they talked about the politics of Lyallpur and of India, and in particular the growing distance between Hindus and Muslims.


 

OLD BRIDGE PLAYERS never die, they just lose their finesse


Barack Obama...& Bridge
 

In Indonesia, Barack always attended private schools (one Muslim and one Catholic) and lived in a middle class neighborhood with predominantly Dutch residents. He lived with his grandparents from the age of ten. They enrolled him in the prestigious Panahou School which he attended until graduation in 1979. Panahou is a private College Prep school, famous for prominent, successful alumni, including leaders of business, commerce, finance, government, politics, sports and academia. Barack's grandfather died. His grandmother retired, an avid Bridge player, and lives in the same ocean view high rise and continues to be very supportive of her grandson.