When I was a child we always had decks of cards and stacks of board games. I feel sorry for the kids today who are growing up with electronic games – although the games I currently play are of the iPhone and iPad variety.
In kindergarten I was an expert at Old Maid, Crazy 8s, Go Fish and several matching games that I don’t even remember the names of. I loved to play them with whatever adult or cousin I could convince to play with me.
By the time I was eight years old, I had added Cribbage, Rummy, Canasta, and War to my repertoire. I had also added a sister who was four years younger, who thought she was old enough to play anything I did. In fact, she went to kindergarten counting “seven, eight, nine, ten, Jack, Queen, King.”
These were the days when ladies played cards in the afternoons, and I loved hanging around the card table and listening to Mama’s Bridge Club. I didn’t understand how to play yet, but I loved to listen to the conversations that went on between hands. Mama’s Bridge games in Texarkana had three other ladies who all went to Mama’s church. When one of them had something else to do, I was fortunate to substitute. They were all from 10 to 20 years older than I was. The last one living died just a couple of weeks ago. I grieved for the loss of that piece of my life.
Nannie and Gankie had a group of four couples who played cards every Saturday night. Sometime after the Saturday night card game took up a permanent place on their calendars, one of the men died. They did’t want to exclude his widow, so they discovered a game that could be played by several people at a time – Michigan Rummy aka Tripoley. The game is a combination of Rummy, Poker, and Hearts. From what I could tell it was a backdrop to good conversation and an excuse for the hostess to make the most decadent dessert she could to serve at the end of the evening.
During the summers that we spent at my grandmother’s house we also had access to a big box full of poker chips whose origin was the Saturday night card games. Having poker chips opened our card-playing to the possibility of more games and I learned to play Poker and Black Jack. We also played Parcheesi, Clue and Monopoly. The Monopoly games lasted all afternoon in the summer, but we had to put them away before supper. I was grown before I ever a played a Monopoly game to its conclusion.
When Al and I met, luckily Al was just as big a card player as I was. We played Bridge in college, but learned early that it’s best not to partner one’s spouse. I truly believe more marriages have been ruined by Bridge than any other cause.
Nannie and Gankie played two-handed Pinochle and taught Al and me to play when we were engaged. Al’s father was a good Pinocle player, but he only knew how to play cut-throat (three-handed) or four-handed with partners. Al and I played a lot of Pinocle because that was a favorite of pilots on alert.
Early in our marriage we received Parcheesi, Life, and Monopoly, and we would drag those games out whenever we had people over for the evening. As soon as our kids were old enough to take a place at the card table we taught them to play Parcheesi. Al is a cut-throat Parcheesi player, so I often had to console a crying son who had been “sent home” one time too often for his mental state. Later we got Stratego and that occupied our evenings for many nights.
In England, I started playing Mah Jong at the Officer’s Wives Club and taught Al and the boys to play. They all enjoyed it, but we haven’t dragged the Mah Jong tiles out for a long time. Both Al and I often play the on-line “matching” version, but we haven’t played a real game in years.
Cribbage is a wonderful card game that seems to be played largely on line these days. When we lived in England we joined the Pub League and played with other pubs in the area. Both Al and I were Cribbage sharks, and we were welcomed into the league. I still have at least one trophy from our pub’s Cribbage championship.
We also played Dominos at the pub and in a pub league. League play was “Threes & Fives”, where the object of the game is to score points by having the ends of the playable dominos add up to multiples of three or five. You keep score on a cribbage board. While we were in England we bought a set of double twelves. (Regular dominos are double sixes.) You couldn’t play double twelves on a card table – you needed a table the size of a ping-pong table.
Al liked to try his hand at darts in the pubs but I never mastered that art. I did enjoy watching darts, pool, and snooker on TV.
Al and I learned a lot playing games – strategy, logic, math, and good sportsmanship playing games as we were growing up. I think our boys did too, and I grieve that the games that my adult grandchildren play are rarely face-to-face. You don’t have a lot of socialization with an iPad or an iPhone.
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