The old house on Pittsfield Street in Pennsville, New Jersey, fairly rocked with laughter, reeked of cigarette smoke, resonated with the sounds of cards being slapped onto the kitchen table, and rang with happiness when the family played pinochle. By family I don’t mean the kids. Nor do I mean my father, who never, ever, ever played a game of cards in his lifetime. Rather, my mother, her younger sister, and her two brothers would gather several evenings a week to swap tales, consume pots of coffee and rattle the windows while playing raucous games of pinochle. I have seldom seen, since those days, any group of people enjoy a table game so much. There was a big old wooden Philco radio standing in one corner of the kitchen that would belt out cowboy tunes by the hour, and those four happy people would laugh and hoot and noisily point out each other’s gaming faults with complete abandon, and celebrate wins with shouts and chair thumpings. There were never any hurt feelings, there was never any anger displayed, and there was lots of laughter. Oh, yes, they did all that while completely enveloped in a cloud of cigarette smoke. It was hard to stay in the kitchen while the card games were going on – simply because I couldn’t breathe! The level of air pollution from those cigarettes probably contributed to the bronchitis I contracted every winter. Despite that, though, I did learn to play pinochle by watching that happy group during the years I was in middle and then high-school. My card playing now is confined to games on the computer. That’s not as much fun as it was while watching my family enjoying those card-playing evenings, but I don’t miss the cigarette smoke! I feel like I earned a PhD in social studies while observing those games in that old house – enjoy life, but stay away from cigarettes!