Texas-OU weekend is more than just a tradition at the Cotton Bowl. This year it served as an opportunity for several longtime Fort Worth friends to get together and play some cards. It’s a tradition that has been going on 18 years, but started almost five decades ago.
Thank you to Arthur Moses for sharing the back story with his clean, easy-to-read prose:
“We were a group of friends who had mostly grown up together through elementary, middle, Hebrew and Sunday school. We knew each other’s parents and long before cell phones were invented, we knew each other’s home telephone number by heart. Besides the constant drum in the mind of every adolescent male regarding the opposite sex, we had another thing in common; we loved to play cards on Saturday mornings.
“We played poker, blackjack, hi-low split, Black Mariah, the infamous 7-27, as well as a few others. We would ride our bikes over to Steve Solomon’s or Carey Leva’s house which were just across the street from each other in the neighborhood sometimes known as ‘Bagel Bend’ because, of course, many of the families that lived there were Jewish.
“We were Barry Luskey, Steve Solomon, Carey Leva, Jordan Cohen, Ronnie Rakoover, Kurt Schuster, Mike Glazer, Mike Kleiman, Steve Schultz and Arthur Moses. Occasionally, others would join us but this was the constant group. None of us had much money so we played for pennies and nickels; if you were lucky, you might win two or three dollars. With our winnings, we would all ride our bikes over to Pizza Hut or Pizza Inn for lunch (unless Rhoda Solomon made her delicious tuna salad).
“This went on through high school, but as we got cars and started driving it was just a given for each of us that it would remain as a teenage memory. For those that went to college, we earned our degrees, began our careers, married and raised families. But we remained bound by our youth.
“In 2003. Jordan Cohen, Mike Glazer, and Mike Kleiman were going to be in Austin for a UT football game. Jordan (and his wife Lauren) was staying at the Four Seasons Hotel and put out the word that maybe we could get together and play cards just like old times. Emails and phone calls were sent out and the card game took place Saturday night after the game. Everyone had a blast; the tradition was restarted. Steve Herman, another old friend from Hebrew and Sunday school, joined the group.
“So, this new game settled in to a once or twice a year event; once in the spring and once in the fall (usually the weekend of a UT football game). Jordan would email me that he’s ready to play and I acted like the mother of the group and sent out the emails and coordinated all the necessary details. We have played in Austin at the Four Seasons Hotel and at the homes of Ronnie Rakoover and Carey Leva. When the game is in Fort Worth we play at my home, where the fun and games are enhanced as we take turns riding the hovercraft I built in 1987, and shooting the ‘potato gun.’
“Each time is a roaring success, full of hugs and laughter. Some of the spouses join us but it was really not their thing, so they would go out for a nice dinner together while we dined on pizza and barbecue. Winning is always nice, but the high stakes of playing for nickels had to give way to 40+ years of inflation and the fact that we now had jobs and income, so we did up our antes to 25 cents! We could now afford to play for higher stakes, but winning hundreds of dollars from your friends was never the motivation; playing with twenty-five-cent chips you are just as happy to have played whether you won or lost $10 or $20.
“Each year’s winner gets to take home the hideous ‘poker card’ tie, so this gets passed along from year to year. There have been games where some of our children joined us, which really brought it full circle. My best time was when Jordan’s whole family came in with him and I left the ‘adult’ game and played cards on the floor of my study with his twin girls. They kept asking what their dad was like as a teenager; they were just so darn cute.(Of course, I couldn’t really tell them about their dad as a teenager; I think there is a law in Texas that carries criminal penalties for that sort of thing.)
“Not surprisingly, in the way that COVID-19 has affected everything, we had to cancel or postpone our games scheduled in May 2020, fall 2020 and spring 2021. Finally, with the relative safety of vaccinations in place, we were able to have our most recent gathering on Oct. 9 in Fort Worth.
“But this year became an even larger event, as we really tried to be inclusive and invited non-players and ‘the girls’ that we grew up with. While not everyone could make it, this year Carey Leva (Austin), Ronnie Rakoover (Austin), Barry Luskey (Savannah, Georgia), Jordan Cohen (Phoenix, Arizona), Mike Glazer (Dallas), Mike Kleiman (Dallas), Steve Herman (Arlington) and me, Arthur Moses (Fort Worth) played for over four hours. Alan Kahn flew in from Boise, Idaho and we watched old BBYO Sweetheart-Beau videos that he brought along. Spouses joined us too: Clara Rakoover, Debby Luskey, Denise Kleiman, Ellen (Herman) Fourton and Linda Moses. Others that joined us were Steve Schultz (Fort Worth), Marcie Levine and Mitch Reitman (Fort Worth), Rhonda (Blinderman) Wildman (Boulder, Colorado), Gail (Anton) Mizrahi (Dallas), and Mark and Roberta Gerrick (Fort Worth). Others that could not make it but were there in spirit were Neal Goone, Steve Solomon, Kurt Schuster, Susan Wisch, Seline Kahn, Heidi (Beckerman) Kirby, Roland Mizrahi, Ruthie Bogart, Lauren Cohen, Marcia (Weinberg) Kehlmann, and Elizabeth Danon-Leva.”