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Judge Hunt was a serious poker player

November 7th, 2015 Comments off
JudgeSperryPlayCardsLivingRoomFriarTuck1960ish

Judge Hunt and Sperry playing cards in the living room of the house at 526 W. Friar Tuck, Houston circa 1957

My dad, Judge Wilmer Brady Hunt, was a very serious card player. Notice the expression in this photo. He’s playing a ten-year-old (me) and was as focused as a terrier at a rat hole. Note the hat. He always wore one when he played cards. It was likely to cover his expression as he studied newly drawn cards. (The second hat likely belongs to the photographer – probably Uncle Philo or Uncle Brother. (Yes, Uncle Brother, as Henry Safford was known.  His wife, Aunt Georgia, called him Brother, which must have raised some eyebrows occasionally.)

My father’s favorite people to play cards with were probably his mother (Lucy Brady Hunt) and his sisters (Lucy Hunt Barada and Lennie Estelle Hunt). All three were sharks. His mother, whom we called Nana, was the Miss Marple of cards. She was a master of bridge and hearts. Nana rarely glanced around the table. Instead she would stare at her cards, cluck and shake her head grimly. And she would win – decisively and often. What made her particularly difficult to beat was that she held her hand upside down and completely unorganized – so that if a competitor or kibitzer happened by …

My dad told me some of his best times as a young man were playing cards on ships. He did his undergad at Georgetown University in D.C.  Most people would have taken the train from Houston. It was a two-day trip. Instead Dad took a ship from Galveston, which would take four or five – leaving plenty of time to drink whiskey and play cards. He was also very good at shooting skeet, which he probably did at the fantail in those days.

As a lawyer and a judge, he played cards with and his friends every Monday night, barring holidays and assassinations. When he hosted the party (in the room in the photo), I made a habit of drifting by for the cold-cuts and the wonderful chatter. One of the men he played with was Judge Pete Salito, who brought wonderful Italian food of his own making, which he warm-up in our kitchen before the game.  Another, and I don’t remember his name, drove up in a beautiful Jaguar XKE, he could barely get into. The men always enjoyed themselves.

Among my dad’s favorite sayings at the table were:

  • I’d rather owe it to you than beat you out of it.
  • Boys are no damn good (which he told me sisters often)
  • A woman’s just a woman, but a good cigar is a smoke

I’m looking to my family to assist me with more.