Eddie Feldman's wife became seriously ill a few years ago and needed a blood transfusion. "All it took was a couple of calls," said Feldman. "The fellas, the wives, they all came trooping."
In 1943, Sid Weinstein needed a wedding ring. "So I went to this guy here," he said, arcing a thumb in the direction of jeweleer Art Sheinbaum. "I kept insisting, but he wouldn't let me pay for it. And yu know, Bea still wears it to this day."
Dr. Cyril Schulman is a professor at George Washington University medical school now. But way back when, he was a struggling young physician whose practice needed a boost. "You get one guess," said Phil Deckelbaum, "who his first patients were."
With the first members of the Brandeis Club, all you ever need is one guess. Founded 48 years ago this October by a group of adolescent boys who played basketball together at the Jewish Community Center in Northwest Washington, the club has met every Tuesday night in a member's home since October 1931.
Even though the "boys" are now all about 60, or sneaking beyond it, they still look forward to Tuesday nights with the enthusiasm of elves. As Eddie Feldman puts it, "We all just have to know whose kid graduated and who's got a pain in the rear end." Or as Cyril Schulman says, "Basically, we're a whole 'nother family."
A meeting every Tuesday for 48 years? That makes approximately 2,400 evenings the 25 Brandeis members have spent schmoozing and playing nickel-dime poker with one another. The only Tuesdays the club has ever missed are those on which Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur or national holidays fell.
"We tell people about the club and the 48 years, and most of them can't believe it," acknowledged Frank Kirstein, whose mother was hostess of the first meeting in the Kirstein home off Georgia Avenue. "But we're closer to each other than a lot of brothers are."
More thoughtful, too. Every Mother's Day, for example, the club sends a bouquet of flowers to the seven surviving mothers of Brandeis members. When the first member died, in 1952, the club established a college scholarship fund for his children.
Meanwhile, favors are done constantly. If a member hears of someone who wants some art supplies, he'll mention Lou Rubin's store in Bethesda. If a legal question arises, Stanley Kamerow's meter doesn't run for Brandeis clients.
The club was named for the late Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis, a hero in Jewish intellectual circles at the time the club members were young. But this is no great issues discussion cell. The club took Brandeis name because his birthday happened to fall in the same week the club first put itself together. Tuesday nights are strictly social -- and uproariously disorganized.
One recent Tuesday in Harry Kay's basement rec room in Bethesda was a fine case in point.
President Feldman called the meeting to order, but everyone was so busy arguing about gas lines that they paid no attention.
Feldman tried to achieve a consensus on the price of a ticket to the 48th annual Brandeis banquet. He failed because of a dispute over what kinds of pickles to buy.
Then Feldmaan asked Mel Foer, Sheinbaum's business partner, to collect deposits for the club's annual summer fishing trip to Delaware. Foer was just opening his mouth to accept when Herman Taetle cracked, "That's how he made his money." A barrage of good-natured insults followed.
Finally, Feldman said he would entertain a motion to adjourn. He was ignored amid a stampede for the cookies.
If it all seems like the Marx Brothers' night on the town, that is no accident. "This is the way it's been since the very beginning. Fun and relaxation," said Feldman.
"Yeah," added Deckelbaum, "a wild time to us when we were kids was a hayride. Even now we're not a hard-drinking crowd.The toughest thing we serve is Pepsi."
Numbers tell much of the Brandeis tale. Between them, according to the 45th anniversary yearbook, the members have 57 children, 26 grandchildren. 18 occupations and 74 hobbies. Only three Brandeises have been divorced, and only three have died. About three-quarters of those who ever joined still belong. And only six members live outside the Washington area.
That last fact might seem to explain the club's survival. But members points to two more factors: shared values that their immigrant parents drummed into them, and meetings restricted to members only.
"We all think generally the same way," said Feldman. "Our sense of ethics is very similar. We don't have any playboys or politicians. We're almost like peas in a pod."
As for outsiders, "it's been tried, but it just hasn't worked," Feldman said. Wives come to two functions a year -- parties on Valentine's Day and New Year's Eve -- but no more.
That isn't a sore point, either. Before they married their Brandeis husbands, all prospective wives had to sign a tongue-in-cheek pledge not to complain about losing Tuesday nights forever.
Brandeis members know their club has little long-range future. The last new member was initiated 23 years ago. The youngest member is 58. More than half the $20 per member annual dues is placed in a memorial fund for the families of members who will die in the next year.
Asked what the club has to look forward to, Sid Weinstein replied with a chuckle: "We all want to be the last to go so we can get ahold of the treasury."
But before that will come the 50th anniversary, in October 1981. For that, the Brandeis Club will go to Israel -- "for as long as the money holds out," according to Harry Kay. It'll be the crowning trip for a group that, as Art Sheinbaum puts it, "will never known how much moral support it's given over the years." CAPTION: Picture, Cyril Schulman, Frank Kirstein, Herman Taetle, Art Sheinbaum, Sid Weinstein, Harry Kay, Mel Foer. By John Dwyler for The Washington Post