Playing cards was a focal point of cultural activity in my house as I grew up in the 60’s and 70’s. It was such a known pastime that some high school kids in the area would play games such as Kaiser and Smear at noon hours.
My dad was an all-out Smear player. In fact, I don’t remember him playing any other card game, other than poker “with the boys.” My mother’s family on the other hand loved any game that involved cards. Some of the card games that come to mind are Whist, Cribbage, Kaiser, Pinochle, Hearts and Solitaire of any type. I can remember my grandmother saying that neighbours would get together, via horse and sleigh, in the middle of winter. They would play by the wood stove under the coal oil lantern for hours, often till midnight. And yes, they would then have to go home yet that night with horse and sleigh. These homesteaders loved their cards.
At many senior centres cards are still a focal point of activity. However, I do hear some of the “senior seniors” lamenting the fact that many of the younger members “don’t play much cards” these days. It is with some sadness that I see card games losing their draw (pun intended). It seems that card playing is losing some of its lustre due to many options for activities these days, both in and out of the home.
I am not suggesting that card playing is “dying out” completely. There are pockets of serious card playing throughout Saskatchewan. Last year at the SSFA (Saskatchewan Senior Fitness Association) Parkland Valley playdowns for crib hosted at Sturgis READ Club, Hilda Zorn and Madeline Mandzuk drove from Yorkton in the winter and arrived earlier than most of us to play. And play they did! It is quite thrilling to play with and against seniors 20 years older than me, who count points with the efficiency of a Canada Revenue employee calculating the income tax you owe.
Card games promote good sportsmanship and the use of one’s mind. The sociability of meeting known card players and sometimes new ones, coupled with a lunch afterwards, is quite comforting. Food always brings comfort. The fact that this post-playing lunch often includes homemade delights not found on a regular basis speaks to the tradition of card playing.
The card playing season is here right now. Don’t miss out on the various tournaments that are in your area. Remember there is always lunch afterwards. Also, the SSFA Parkland Valley District playdowns will start to take place very soon in an area near you.