My friend Walter wanted me to write about his former Albany dwelling. I won’t mention it by address to honor the current residents’ privacy. That house was the center of many people’s social life. Some out-of-town folks might come through Albany when he wasn’t home, stay there, and leave a note. He often left the door unlocked or told people where to find the key.
That house was the birth of the hearts game I’ve been holding almost every year around my birthday. Back in 1987, and for about three years, a rotation of people played hearts in his kitchen roughly five days a week. This was regardless of whether he was present or not.
The cool thing about the house was that the bedroom upstairs was soundproof because of how it was constructed. Thus, PS, Walter’s wife, wasn’t disturbed by the noise downstairs. (PS was, and is, a saint.)
Almost no one entered the corner property’s front door, though. Most people came in via the porch in the back, where you could see the fruit trees. The kitchen had a display case like in a retail store. His comic book-related paraphernalia resided there.
The house was much larger than I realized, taking up three city lots. The time I recognized that fact was when Walter and PS moved. They had garage space for six vehicles.
Approximately 50 people helped them move over two days. I never even got to the new place, being too busy packing stuff into various cars and trucks. Later, Walter and PS made T-shirts for us movers with a picture of Edvard Munch’s The Scream.
And the card game went away.
The card game returneth
My wife asked me what I wanted to do for my 60th birthday. I said I wanted to have a hearts game at our house. I invited Walter, O. (who later lived in the house Walter and PS had lived in), some of the players from the day, and one or two others.
I held it every year until I was 63, when my wife suggested that weekend wasn’t good. But there was never a better weekend, so I’ve avoided postponing it. Even in 2020, I held a game on March 14.
In 2021, we did some online hearts thing plus ZOOM, which was… something. It didn’t happen in 2022, but it did in 2023. The forecast was dodgy, and some people didn’t make it, but we always had six players, with at least three people at the table.