Personality: Audrey Anderson Britt

Spotlight on sole surviving founder of the Melds Pinochle Club

2/5/2016, 12:24 p.m.
Audrey Anderson Britt became interested in playing pinochle when she was a student at Virginia Union University. “They needed somebody ...

Audrey Anderson Britt became interested in playing pinochle when she was a student at Virginia Union University. “They needed somebody to play,” she says of some of her classmates, “so I told them I knew how to play, but I really couldn’t.

“After they talked about me – and I mean talked about me and embarrassed me – I learned how to play,” she adds. She fell in love with the card game and the friendships it spawned. So in the 1960s, she helped found the Melds Pinochle Club.

“We had to find a way to meet apart from our husbands and socialize,” she says. Now 89 and retired after decades as a Richmond Public Schools employee, Mrs. Britt is the lone living founding member of the club.

“You meld when you play cards,” Mrs. Britt explains of how the club was named.

According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, meld means to blend or combine. In card games, it means to declare or display (a card or combination of cards in a hand) for inclusion in one’s score as in pinochle.

At its zenith, the pinochle club had 12 members, with one serving as the hostess, Mrs. Britt says. Currently, the group has seven members, with guests allowed as long as they know how to play.

They meet to play once a month, usually at Imperial Plaza on North Side, Mrs. Britt says, “because that’s where most of our members are living now.”

She says cash prizes are awarded to winners.

Mrs. Britt notes that the club is always looking for new members, but adds they must know how to play in order to join the club.

She encourages those interested in playing pinochle to learn the game.

“It’s easily taught,” she says.

Here’s an ace at playing pinochle, this week’s Personality, Audrey Anderson Britt:

Date and place of birth: Aug. 5 in Richmond.

Family: Daughter, Veda L. Britt-Handy.

Education: Bachelor’s degree, Virginia Union University, with additional studies at Temple University.

Is the pinochle club affiliated with a national group: No, we’re local.

Do you compete against other clubs: We do if they invite us.

Why would you recommend pinochle to others: We just love it. It’s fun.

What type of pinochle do you play: We play single pinochle. Some people play double pinochle. This is easier than bridge. You can’t talk in bridge, but you can talk a little bit when you play pinochle.

How do new members join: Usually, we will invite a person who has been a guest and we make sure this person knows how to play.

What was the popularity of pinochle when you founded the club: It was quiet popular. The affluent people played bridge.

How do you start your day: I get up at 4:30 in the morning and talk on the phone to other people who get up early. Then I get somebody to walk my dog, Oscar. And I also do some community work. And I am the “mayor” of the block and belong to the Battery Park Civic Association.