Saturday night

by Kim on September 17, 2010

For a family that didn’t have much money (See My Dad – the Original Organic Farmer ), we sure did have fun on Saturday nights. Friday nights were taken up with football or basketball (See Football Boogie ). Saturday nights were reserved for playing cards or board games, sometimes with just our family, my aunt and uncle, or family friends. Before I was 9, I learned the game of Pinochle and the special set of rules that my family played by. I don’t think it was an option NOT to play – but I enjoyed the shenanigans so I never tested what would happen if I didn’t want to join the game.

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Getting Ready for the Card Game

On Saturday nights, my parents either played cards with my Aunt Mid and Uncle Jim or Don and Jean Shulaw. They took turns going to each other’s houses and my brother and sisters enjoyed it wherever the games took place. Now, to be exact, the kids were not invited to play when we got together with another family. Occasionally however, I would be asked to come to the table and “take a hand” so that the host could get the food ready to serve, or tend to one of the kid emergencies. It was there I learned most of my first cuss words and slightly off-color jokes. I observed not only the game of Pinochle, but how my parents acted a bit differently when around their friends. If my Dad wasn’t getting good cards that night, he would declare the cards were sticking together. He would get up and go get the baby powder to coat the cards to make them shuffle smoother. My Aunt would often get upset at the teasing at the card table and throw down the cards in a huff. I heard “Dammit Fred” so often I thought my Dad had two first names. Almost always – though it wasn’t a sure bet –  they were all laughing again by the end of the night.

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Mom & Dad's Favorite Card Partners

While our parents were otherwise occupied, we could play at will and with slightly less supervision. Mom didn’t seem to care if we messed the house up a little more. My sisters and I built tents with sheets and blankets with our cousins or played basketball outside in the dark. To this day, I am a very good shot at basketball and it’s because I played  “H-O-R-S-E” for hours with my cousin Brian on those card-playing nights. Sometimes it was so dark out that he’d throw me the ball and it would hit my face because I couldn’t see it. We also played outside barefoot, engaging in hide and seek and freeze-tag well into the night. My parents would stop their game long enough to make sure that we washed our very dirty feet before we came back into the house. They returned to their cards and we returned to our cousins. There was no set bedtime on those nights.

One of the best things about having company over to play cards was the food that came with the get-together. We were never allowed to have snacks or soda pop otherwise. But if cards were involved, we could have Pepsi or root beer, accompanied by potato chips and home-made onion dip. Mom would make her orange jello with pineapple dessert topped with cream cheese and marshmallows. I still sometimes savor the taste of Pepsi on ice in a tall Tupperware cup. As the bubbles explode when I drink it, I have flashbacks of the memories of those game nights.

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My boyfriend

When I was in high-school, it was easy for me to bring my boyfriend to my house (See One Sure Thing) and have him join in our family card game.  There was a structure already in place that he could slide into that eased him into being a part of our family. He endured my Dad’s teasing about how inept his card-playing was. That was Paul’s initiation into my family and he passed the test. My father was endeared to him when Paul declared the cards were sticking together and jumped up to get the powder to coat the cards. Finally, someone understood my father and his solution to unlucky cards.

We varied the games through the years. We added a marble game called Aggravation, we became experts at Euchre, or we played a game called Shanghai. This game was a form of rummy that required differing combinations of sets and runs.  The game itself wasn’t the important thing. What mattered was just getting around the table engaging each other in some sort of activity. We just really wanted to be together. They say you must accept the cards that life deals you. I was dealt a very blessed childhood.

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