Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Dead Man's Hand

One of many newspapers covering the trial.
Passion is a force that runs our world. Passion for everything, every single thing can be for good and/or for evil, love and/or lust: Passion.

One of these many passions is for the game of bridge. Living in our new community of retired and independent living, those passionate bridge players play that card game with absolute dedication. Husband John is one of those now.  Passion which drives these bridge players almost borders on obsession.

The following is a re-telling of a legendary passionate bridge game in 1929:

John and Myrtle Bennett spent Sundays together with Myrna and Charles Hofman.  The guys would play a round of golf in the morning, with all clustering together to play bridge after dinner. Hofmans lived in an apartment above Myrtle and John Bennett, and Myrtle’s mother. Needless to say, Hofman couple could hear what the other couple was doing or saying.

Shortly after midnight, Charles and Myra Hofman were whomping the Bennetts, pulling ahead.  The Bennetts began to bicker, with John did not making the final hand.

Myrtle was totally irritated and told John that he was one “bum bridge player”. John leaped to his feet and slapped Myrtle a few times.  Hofmans were not surprised, as John did this a lot, with Hofmans able to hear fighting and slapping sounds.

He stomped upstairs to retrieve his suitcase, saying he was leaving, and told Myrtle to go get his pistol.  John always took it for safety when he traveled on the road.  Myrna turned to Charles, “Only a cur would strike a woman in front of his guests.”

Myrtle clumped to her mother’s room where said 32 Colt automatic pistol was hidden in their linen closet, sobbing profusely, stormed back the den. Myrtle brushed by Hofmans, then went down the hall to a dingy bathroom, where she shot John twice in the back. John crawled to the living room where he died.

Well, the trial was a blockbuster for locals, and then big newspapers.  Myrna's shaky memory of who did what, finally settling on Myrtle had been brutalized many times, that the murder was retribution, or maybe accidental. Charles Hoffman agreed. Either way, Myrtle Bennett was declared not guilty of murder.

The deliberation took 8 hours before reaching that verdict, with her defense attorney’s assistant declared “It looks like an open season on husbands.”

Myrtle lived to be 96, living in Hotel Carlyle in New York City.  She was hired to be executive head of housekeeping.  Myrtle developed many friendships with celebrities, including Mary Pickford and husband Buddy Rogers.


Her estate was declared to be more than $1 million.  Having no children or relatives of her own, a good amount went to John Bennett’s family members.
The following is, as best can be reconstructed from Hofmans' memory:

 Myrtle Bennett
North
A1063
1085
4
A9842
 
Charles Hoffman
West
Q72
AJ3
AQ1092
J6
 Myrna Hoffman
East
4
Q94
KJ763
Q753
 John Bennett
South
KJ985
K762
85
K10
 

26 comments:

  1. My dad was also an avid bridge player. He even came to NYC to a tournament, world championship, I think. And visited with me in Princeton at the same time. I think I was the main reason for his visit to the U.S., but, as you said, passion rules and bridge was his.

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    1. I know you were the reason. Bridge is fine, but family is much finer.

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  2. Sigh. A story which is repeated (with minor variations) the world over.

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    1. Whether it is for a hand of bridge, or a gambling debt--some passions overtake reason.

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  3. Probably the worst time to have someone retrieve your gun. My grandparents loved Bridge. Tried to teach me once. It made no sense to me.

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    1. Right, isn't it!! Here go get my gun, slap slap..

      I played bridge almost 30 years ago. Now, I think bridge helps me keep my brain still going.

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  4. I have no understanding of bridge so don't know what that card layout means, but I do know that after bickering and slapping someone, you do not ask that same someone to go get your gun.

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    1. So true. After a history of abuse connected with a gun, just is no a good mix.

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  5. Damn, now that is dedication. Has to be to bring on "accidental" shooting. But then abuse and guns aren't go to end well no matter what it is.

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    1. Some people have an intensity when it comes to a focus.

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  6. Some say the power of the gun lives on with nut freaks ruling the world yet the other side say the right to bear arms is part of the constitution. Once power and wealth recedes all that is matters is love, a word not often heard anymore.

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    1. It was an interesting story in annals of bridge. Gun or not, she was fed up.

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  7. I remember watching my relatives play bridge when I was a kid. They were all so serious --didn't look like fun to me. It never ran to gunfire but I still don't play.

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  8. Hi Susan - what a story ... death by a hand of bridge - well in some ways I'm glad she wasn't convicted and lived her life apparently with a good heart and that her money also went to the right family. I did play bridge - but only kitchen bridge with a glass of wine nearby! I still look at the puzzles ... never really work them out - but enjoy the look and the answer ... cheers Hilary

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    1. Kitchen bridge + wine. Great bridge times.

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  9. I don't play bridge and never have ...
    This is a very sad tale.

    All the best Jan

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    1. It is sad, crazy, passionate. No slapping would have made all the difference.

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  10. I haven't played bridge since the mid-sixties, and my husband never learned how to play, so we should be safe. :) However, I must confess to being a passionate card player once upon a time, especially when it came to pinochle. My hubby's lackadaisical attitude about the game drove me crazy, so we agreed it'd be best if we didn't play as partners. Maybe that's how the Bennetts should have handled their bridge games, too.

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    1. oh,so very true. i vowed to never play bridge with my husband again.

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  11. My in-laws used to have group card games. We'd sit in tables of four. You couldn't partner with your spouse, or even be at the same table. I never liked that, lol, but I guess after seeing this that maybe it wasn't such a bad idea after all. ;)

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    Replies
    1. Sounds like someone thought this one out, wisely.

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  12. Replies
    1. Thanks for stopping by, HR. Glad you enjoyed this post.

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Go ahead...it won' t hurt...I'd love to hear what you think!