Hammerstein’s card games

Music theatre writer Oscar Hammerstein loved to play games.  His nephew recalls:

There’s a family story about his game-playing. I can’t vouch for its authenticity, but it rings true. He was playing a very informal game of bridge with two of his collaborators, the composers Jerome Kern and Sigmund Romberg, and someone else one afternoon. During one hand, Oscar was dummy and he got up to look into the other hands. He saw immediately that the only way his partner, Romberg, would be able to make the hand was if he knew that Kern held a singleton spade. He began to whistle the song “One Alone,” from the Romberg/Hammerstein 1920s hit The Desert Song. Romberg paid no attention and went down.

“Goddamn it!” Oscar said. “Didn’t you hear me whistling ‘One Alone’?”

“I recognized the music,” Romberg deadpanned, “but who remembers the words?”

Gordon, John Steele, “My Uncle, Oscar Hammerstein”, Commentary, April 2011, http://www.commentarymagazine.com/article/my-uncle-oscar-hammerstein/, accessed 20 April 2011.