A Woman's Voice

MEMORY LANE ~ Family Card Games ~ November 7, 2011

Posted in MEMORY LANE by doloresayotte on November 7, 2011
Tags: , , , , , ,

This is a follow-up to The Art of Playing Cards by one of my husband’s boyhood friends.

When I was growing up, television was just coming to Winnipeg.  There was only one channel, and right after “Howdy Doody” every day, the famous “Test Pattern” came on so that families would have an hour to eat supper.  The pastime of choice in many families was an assortment of card games.  As the kids got older, the games became more complex, until finally we were playing bridge.  I can still remember that when I was learning to add and subtract, I pictured the spots on a playing card to help me do the mental math.  I grew up to be a math teacher, and I credit card games with the early development of number sense, logic and strategy. 

When my own two kids were growing up, Dee and Jay, the first video games were becoming affordable.  Soon, Pong, Space Invaders and even the amazing Pac-Man became the games of choice.  While they certainly were good for the development of hand-eye coordination, they didn’t do much for the development of math skills or logic.  Still, card games, (along with games like Crokinole, Parcheesi, Uno and Monopoly), were the standard form of entertainment, especially when spending time with the Grandparents.  On Sunday nights, three generations looked forward to a fantastic meal at Grandma’s place, followed by a game of cards once the dishes were cleaned up.  Sundays were the highlight of our week! 

Dee and Jay learned to play several card games as soon as they could hold more than three cards in their little hands, (ok…even before, and so what if everyone else could see their cards!).  Of all the games we played, penny poker, 31, knockout whist and “GUTS” became the favourites of the youngsters.  Grandma didn’t do much to teach them the value of money, as she was always slipping them extra pennies if the kids were running low.  And, it took the kids a long time to figure out why Grandma folded so often, when it came down to just her and one of the kids as to who was going to win the big pot.  What keep them baffled for even longer, was the fact that Grandma would never let anyone see the cards that she had just folded; she would quickly mix them in with the rest of the deck.  At a very young age, each of the kids had a cloth bag, or tin can with a lid in which to save their pennies for the next Sunday. 

Both kids grew up to be Chartered Accountants.  Hmmm….I wonder? 

Dee was in Grade 2, and Jay had just started Kindergarten with the same teacher that Dee had loved.  This teacher made the kids love coming to school, and certainly gave them a great start to their school lives.  She used to send home monthly calendars, where each day had a particular theme or activity as a special treat.  The kids looked forward to these activities, some days more than others.  Jay was literally hopping with excitement when he brought home a calendar that promised a day of playing cards!  He couldn’t wait for that special day.  He had his deck of cards ready to go weeks in advance, and could hardly sleep the night before the big day. 

 When I got home from work, I couldn’t wait to ask Jay how the day had gone.  He grumpily told me that it hadn’t been much fun at all!  When pressed for a reason, he blurted out, with a combination of disappointment and disgust:  “Dad, can you believe that not a single kid in class knew how to play GUTS!”  I tried very hard not to laugh, (I highly doubt that I was successful), and tried to placate him with the promise that we would play some GUTS on the following Sunday for sure. 

Unfortunately, card games are nearing extinction.  Lives have become a lot more hectic, there are too many high-tech games to compete with and probably the worst of all is that families just don’t seem to have the time any more to sit down together for an hour or two to play a game together.  A lot of family communication has been sacrificed in the process! 

I am now 63 years old, and I still love to play bridge, on-line and at clubs.  The saddest commentary is that I am known as one of those young guys when I go to a club tournament.  Society is blessed with a lot of new inventions and life is a lot better in many ways.  However, I think a lot of things have been lost along the way.  In my opinion, nothing can replace a family being able to play, talk and laugh together for at least an hour or two per week. 

Progress?  Hmmm!



2 Responses to 'MEMORY LANE ~ Family Card Games ~ November 7, 2011'

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  1. raisethegaze said,

    Dolores, I’ve just read this piece and also the previous one by Fred, and I thoroughly enjoyed them.
    I’m very inclined to agree with the assessment that something is being lost in our present day in which there’s so many hi-tech gadgets and games that intensely occupy individuals, but so few families, it seems, sit down and spend a solid block of time in a shared pursuit, interacting and laughing together — such as card games or other simple pleasures.

    • Hey Peter….how wonderful to hear from you! What you’ve said is so very true. Somehow we have managed to lose site of our simplest pleasures with all the hi-tech gadgets and games. In my opinion, it’s rather sad because we can miss out on some valuable family time. I love playing interactive games and it sounds like you do too! Thanks for stopping by and sharing your words of wisdom with us.

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