Tuesday, February 22, 2011


Picture One: Esther & Marie Milanette at Oxford St. -Spring blooms of magnolias 1943

Picture Two: Esther T. Lochner 1945 -- 3 Cambridge St, Rochester

It was 1942 and dates were a thing of the past! Ever since Dec. 7, 1941 and the Japanese raid on Pearl Harbor which thrust the USA into WWII, men of an age to squire women around were scarcer then hen’s teeth. More and more women were entering the work force, replacing the men, who chose to enlist to gain the service of their choice, rather than be drafted.
Eastman Kodak was a popular place to work and they needed women to fulfill their government war contracts. That gave “the girls” money to spend for stamps and stationary, as everyone wrote to men in the service--brothers, cousins, fiancés, husbands or simply friends. It was the patriotic thing to do.

However, this did not fill their social needs, there was no bright spot in the week to look forward to. Moaning and complaining during break time about this lack of entertainment led to a solution. Anne Hertzel was inspired to suggest that a few of them group together and form a card club so that’s what they did. Ruth McGuire, Bea Fitzgerald, Marie Milanette, Marge Dows, Betty Bauman, Belle Ford and Esther Lochner met every two weeks at one another’s home or apartments and formed two tables for cards--one of Bridge and one of Pinochle.

Originally they met on Wednesday night, the hostess provided a bowl of nuts and another of candy for each table and when card players finished, a splendid lunch was provided. That, of course, was the charger! Here each member was able to show her creativity and they didn’t stint! An entree might be served with a salad and rolls followed by a luscious dessert, no holds barred! Card playing had been assisted by a punch or ginger ale beverage, but the evening finished with coffee or tea.

Picture Three: Marge Sharpe Dows, Esther, Ruth Woolston Mott May 17, 1942

At first, dues had been collected to be used for prizes at each table. Esther was the treasurer. However, as time went on it became an onerous chore to come up with decent gifts and eventually prize money just went into individual envelopes to be used whenever for special lunches or outings by the recipients.

As well as bi-monthly card nights, they sometimes met for weekend visits, not all of them but two or three would gather to go to a show or have a picnic in good weather. Belle Ford’s family had a cottage on Canandaigua lake. Doris, Esther’s sister, was at that time attending R.I.T. (then called Mechanics Institute). Belle invited Ruth McGuire, Esther, and her two sisters, Doris and Lucille to spend an overnight with her at the lake. Lucille, who had just made herself a bathing suit, bused up to Rochester to go with them, tickled pink! However, it was Doris who ended up pink for against all advice she insisted upon lying on the dock to get a “tan”, and got a really bad burn! Ruth had to drive her in to Canandaigua and find a doctor to care for her. He was very vocal about his opinion of her!
Picture Four: Esther, CB, Doris, Ruth McGuire standing -- Canandaigua Lake, 1944

Picture Five: Dick and Esther, 1945

As the years went by, the men came home. There were marriages to attend, baby showers to be given; Card Club became a monthly event and Friday was the night. Special times might be with couples, for these women had become close. Some members moved out of town, new ones were invited to attend, but still the hard core stuck together. I was lucky enough, as Esther’s sister, to be allowed to attend, although I am no card player. Somehow I bungled through Pinochle.

Inevitably fewer and fewer were able to play. More and more final goodbyes were said. Ruth McGuire took over Esther’s job which had become a task of notifying members of when and where to meet.

Today, as Ruth and I discuss those years, there are few able to do more than phone one another but the spirit is still there. Seventy years have not erased the love these women shared, nor could death conquer their spirits. These women were SUCCEEDERS!


Pat said...


Thanks for sharing this, AND, thanks for getting together with Ruth to get even more of the story!


Jack said...

1945-- CB stated she was lucky to be allowed to attend, "although I am no card pl;ayer."
You bet--she married into a card playing family and I can honestly state that by 1949, she couldn't tell spades from clubs!