A Full House


In F.P.A.’s Diary of Our Own Samuel Pepys , a loose chronicle of the doings of himself and his cronies, there are mentions of “tiny meetings” of the club and occasional weekday meetings when it appeared that Saturday was too full of other things to do. Once near the turn of the magic decade he wonders, “Whatever happened to the silly old Thanatopsis?” It is mentioned again after that, and it probably held a last meeting sometime in 1931, by which time most of the really big poker players had moved on to Swope’s house in Sands Point, which could hold a clutch of Thanatopsians and a gaggle of society folk anxious to meet the fur-trimmed Bohemians whose jokes they read in the columns, whose plays they saw, whose books they read, whose somehow special lives they envied.

The world had long been an oyster for the club members, and now in the high noon of their careers they began to gather the pearls. Royalties, salaries, and fees were up along with the market, and out to Long Island the talented parvenus went to meet Society on the croquet lawn, over the backgammon board, and at the poker table. They didn’t need support from each other any more, and their ways began to diverge as they went out into a world that still didn’t quite believe there was going to be a depression. By the time everyone believed it, the different ways had become very different indeed, and nostalgia holds a hammer lock on many of them yet.

Still, they had been like their Gopher Prairie sisters, “So—in fact, so very unique,” and unlike the G.P. ladies, busy with their trees and rest rooms, they had filled—at the poker table and away from it—an awful lot of inside straights.