Twelve Ladies and a Mink

Pauline Nevins  January 4, 2020 - Auburn Journal


Want to play hand and foot? I greeted this invitation with the suspicion it deserved. I had no idea what was being offered. I would learn that hand and foot is a card game, a legitimate one, sanctioned by our Auburn Newcomers and Neighbors social club.


I hadn’t played cards in years. When I was a teenager, my brother-in-law, Pete, who lived across the street, would dash across the road on a Friday night anxious to pry away some of my wages before I had a chance to go out and blow in one night what took me all week to earn. We usually played pontoon, otherwise known as blackjack. The stakes were low, so even if I wasn’t lucky, I still had a few shillings left to spend at the local Black Domino Café, our local hangout until we were old enough to booze it up at the Dog and Duck pub.


Hazel, our Newcomers’ hiking leader, had asked the hand and foot question. She offered to teach me the game. I wouldn’t say I’ve gained enough confidence to try out for the Texas Hold’em Championship, but I managed to grasp the essentials of the game — just don’t ask me to do mental arithmetic.
Not wanting to commit to a regular schedule, I volunteered to be a substitute. The game is played with two couples at each of three tables. If there are absentees, others don’t get to play.


I advised Hazel to only call if she was desperate. The annual Christmas game night was approaching. The group was desperate. They called me. I reluctantly agreed although I was usually in bed, under my electric blanket, reading when they are still playing. After I said "yes,” I received a second call from Hazel. Bye the way, we do a gift exchange — spend approximately $20. OK then. The good news? The dinner was a potluck and I wasn’t expected to bring anything.


As I roamed around Hazel’s kitchen admiring and sampling the food, a vivacious member of the group arrived swaddled in a mink coat looking every bit the movie star. I half expected to see a stretch limo idling at the curb.