One big one was Mom's bridge club. Twice a month, every month of every year, Mom and 15 other women gathered at one of the women's home for a light lunch and an afternoon of playing contract bridge. This was not a casual occurrence. Bridge Club was sacred.
The dress code was somewhere between regular everyday and church. The venue rotated around. When it was at our house preparation started on Tuesdays. The kid responsibilities were to Stay Out Of The Way and don't mess up anything and don't touch anything and do not eat anything unless specifically told it was OK.
The four bridge tables were set up in the living room with their score sheets and pencils and drink coasters and candy/nut dishes plus ashtrays. And the kitchen turned into a party prep kitchen. Crustless sandwiches or savory chicken salad cream puffs or waldorf salad and always something wonderful for dessert. It was quite the event.
But it was the women of Bridge Club that were real influential ingredient. They were a 16 member support group. Some of them had kids my age and most were also close family friends. We kids knew them all and knew they were adults we could trust with anything.
Another interesting side note was Daddy's. After he was promoted to Sales Manager and then Vice President of Hanes Underwear, he was in charge of a country full of sales people. These people combed the country selling underwear to wholesalers who, in turn, would sell it to stores.
Once a year, he'd gather all these sales people in Winston-Salem for a big sales meeting. Other times during the year, he'd gather subsets in for smaller meetings. Any and all of his sales people who came to town were invited to our house. These pre-dinner cocktail parties were legendary and as much fun or more for us kids.
The food was always amazing and delicious. Little hand food of all kinds and oh so good. Every single bit of it made by Mom who was careful to make sure fan favorites were included every time (marinated shrimp on crackers) and new things were folded into the menu so that the guests always had a surprise.
Daddy hired a bartender. The same guy every time. He was the most fun guy and we loved him because he'd sip us little glasses of coke or fizzy water and maraschino cherries.
These were dress up affairs. Even for us. We wore our Sunday clothes and were carefully trained in the art of meeting and greeting and welcoming strangers into our home. But, mostly these people were not strangers at all. We knew them because they came back year after year. They were lovely to us and we loved seeing them.
One of them was a woman from Chicago. She was a really large (think Kate Smith) woman with a gynormous bosom. One time when Daddy was in Chicago he was invited to her home and when he got home he told us all about it. It was high up and looked over the lake and she had an organ! She had headphones she plugged into the organ so she could play without disturbing her neighbors. (In the 60's, earphones were still things only radio station people used.)
But, the big deal, for me, was the revelation that a little girl could grow up and live in an apartment in the sky and not have to marry anyone or have kids. Seriously?? This is an option??? This was the first I'd ever heard of that and I was hooked. Sign me the fuck up right this minute. Really. I was fascinated and whenever she was in our house, I watched her like a hawk to make sure I got all the details exactly correct so I could replicate.
After several hours of drinking, eating and visiting, everyone would pile into cars and drive to the steak restaurant for dinner. (Yep, drunks in cars without seatbelts. It was really a thing.) We kids would stay behind and finish off the hor d'oeuvres and the dregs of the drinks.
A wonderful time was had by all, every time.
To Be Continued