A bridge player would understand why my mother, Martha Manning, and six other players refused to give up their games and leave a house filled with thick smoke while firemen searched for the source of the blaze.

The only person to leave the game — when the smoke got too thick —was a woman who suffered from a lung problem. She went out on the lawn to get oxygen from the firemen. Meanwhile, the game continued. She, fortunately, was the dummy.

The account of the event that made the local southern Arizona newspaper was «a bit exaggerated but essentially true,» mother said. The account goes that the eight women were having a delightful game when «someone made the comment that she smelled smoke.»

«Rumor has it that Jeanne suggested it was probably a new brand of imported cigarets Fran was trying out. The bidding and games went on, uninterrupted. «Finally, as smoke infiltrated the rooms, Ethel, who was dummy at the moment, went to examine the source of the smoke. Sure enough, it wasn’t Fran’s cigaret; smoke was pouring out of the fireplace. When Ethel tried to open the vent, she discovered the damper was stuck. Try as she might, there was no budging the apparatus,» the account goes.

As the house filled with smoke, Martha suggested calling the fire department. Apparently after a bidding round was over, the women agreed that calling the fire department was a good precautionary move to take. «We did go on playing cards until the firemen arrived, sirens blasting away. They came in, tiled to move the damper unsuccessfully, then several climbed up on the roof to see if the fire was coming up the chimney,» mother said.

Firemen removed the smoldering logs from the fireplace and took them out onto the lawn to extinguish them. «The firemen — I think there were at least 10 of them in their fire-fighter regalia — tramped through the house, across the cream-colored rugs, leaving smudges on the cream-colored upholstered chair near the door,» she said.

«They then gathered outside in the sunshine, visiting among themselves and with the police and neighbors who wandered by to see what the excitement was all about. «The firemen seemed to be thoroughly enjoying their time away from the station while they waited for those on the roof to determine there was no further cause for alarm.

«They installed a huge fan in the family room that drew the smoke out of the house and we all went on with our bridge game,» she said. «Ethel, the hostess, was very thankful to the fire department for its prompt response to the call,» she said.

The game had been saved from a major interruption which, of course, would be a fate as bad as being singed beyond recognition. After all, life does have its priorities.