“It was my second day with the Bridge World, and Ely [Culberston] blew into my office with the force of a hurricane. "Al," he hurricaned, "I'm going to write a book about Joe Jott. I understand you're familiar with the subject and I want you to do the research work. I want a full investigation of all the facts, and have your report ready when I get back from Budapest in three weeks."
"Fine," I countered. "But Ely, about the matter of my salary, you ..."
"Stop worrying about your salary. My boat sails in two hours and I don't have time to discuss it now. Draw whatever money you need from the cashier and we'll straighten it out later."
Incidentally, I might add that that was the last conversation I ever had with Ely regarding my salary! The cashier, the bookkeeper, the accountants, the comptroller, the Treasury Department, and Al Morehead (Ely's right bower at the time) tried to straighten the thing out but Ely washed his hands of the whole affair. But to get back to my first assignment. Ely shook hands, bid me farewell, and headed for the door. I halted him with, "By the way, boss, who is Joe Jott?"
He stopped like a blown-out hurricane, looked at my pityingly, and softly informed me, "Joe-jotte isn't a 'who.' It's a new card game. In fact, it's the greatest two-handed game in the history of the world (this statement was made before Dr. Kinsey published his first report). The book will sell like hotcakes." "Thank you," I meekly replied, "I'll get to work on it at once."
After I discovered that Jo-jotte was nothing but an old Hungarian game called Kalabrias with Culbertsonian trimmings, the assignment was not too difficult. I visited every New York coffee house, the native habitat of "Klob" enthusiasts, and played the game with the experts every night, much to the detriment of my financial standing. But I figured that my
losses could be written up as legitimate expenses in connection with research. When I brought this matter up at a later date Ely looked at me sternly and warned me that he did not tolerate gambling on the part of Bridge World employees. Thus ended the first lesson. But you've got to give him credit - he called the turn when he predicted the book would sell like hotcakes. If only it had sold like books!”
Al Sobel, the engineer who turned to Bridge rather than selling apples during the Great Depression . . .
--This first-person accounts was written by Al Sobel for the 25th anniversary of Bridge World Magazine (as quoted by Jerome S Machlin in his book "Tournament Bridge - An Uncensored Memoir").
--The quote was forwarded courtesy of John McLeod, internationally-known card expert and webmaster of the The Card Games Site.