Wish I'd Said It

Weeds are flowers too - once you get to know them.

- A. A. Milne

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Cribbage & Uncle Walter's Lesson (#174)

The other day, while looking under the couch for the air pump, Son #1 came across a cribbage board I’d forgotten about. It’s carved in the shape of a trout. A rainbow trout to be precise.

Here’s a picture of it:



As you can plainly see, it’s a very spiffy board. (As you can also plainly see, just as I was about to snap the pic, Benny noticed I was doing Something Interesting and had to investigate.) I have some recollection of receiving the board as a gift but am embarrassed to admit I’ve forgotten from whom. (Maybe I’ll find out when/if they read this.)

I learned to play cribbage as a child by watching my father play with relatives, friends, and the salesmen who visited our furniture store. I played Dad in practice games and he exhibited the same patience he did while fishing. In my opinion, it’s the best two-handed card game in the world.

An early, and fond memory is of whupping my Uncle Walter in a game or two when I was about seven years old. We were playing at my grandparent’s home during one of the regular family get-togethers.

I was pretty excited. We were playing for money -- a nickel a game, a dime a skunk. (To be skunked in cribbage is to lose by more than 30 points.) I’d never played for money before and was pretty nervous. Most likely because I didn’t have a nickel, let alone a whole dime.

It didn’t seem to matter however, as I could do no wrong. If, in one hand, I only had seven points, poor Uncle Walter would only have four. Occasionally, other relatives would pass by to watch and kibbitz.

More than once, Uncle Val would look at Uncle Walter’s cards and say something like, “Why the heck are you keeping those?”

Uncle Walter would shush him and say he knew what he was doing.

I was too focused on my own cards to pay much attention to his. All I knew was that a couple of games later, I was deliriously happy and 10 cents richer.

I had beaten an adult at cribbage!

It took a decade or two for me to come to the realization that Uncle Walter let me win. As the years passed, I would think about that day now and again. I realized that he taught me an extremely important life lesson - that you don’t have to win to be a winner.

Uncle Walter must be in his 80s now. He and Aunt Jan moved to Nova Scotia about 20 years ago and I haven’t seen them since. We email now and again though, and a while ago I reminded him of the story I just told. Finding that spiffy board prompted me to pass the story along.

Thanks Uncle Walter. You’re a good man. I hope to get out to see you some day soon. I’ll be a good sport and give you a chance to win your dime back.

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Those of you who can’t get enough of Benny stories and pictures really should check out Hilary’s blog regularly. She posts more often than I do and often about things we’ve done together. Recently, she’s told of our trip to the cottage and other adventures, replete with pictures, videos and darn good commentary. Check it out at: http://thesmittenimage.blogspot.com/

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Here’s a shot of Benny I took a couple of weeks ago at the cottage. After a full day of eating waves and gnawing sticks, he contemplates tomorrow’s mischief.

22 comments:

Hilary said...

Of course I've heard that story about your Uncle Walter before, but enjoyed reading it again just now. He sounds like a wonderful guy. Nice memory.

Speaking of nice memories, great shot of Benito at the cottage. :)

Looks like we'll be playing trout cribbage pretty soon, eh?

Bruce Robinson said...

Each day, as I get a little older, I try to learn something, or at least understand something that is rattling around in my head. From your photos, I think I am gaining greater understanding of the saw about dogs getting to look like their people. Or was that another way around. Perhaps just a longer way around.

Reb said...

Lovely story Frank. Your Uncle sounds like a wise man. That is a great photo of Benny and the Lake. (almost wrote Jets - damn now I have that song in my head!)

Frank Baron said...

Yes Hil, we will. But don't think a new board will suddenly change your results. ;)

Bruce, trying to learn or understand something new every day is a worthy goal indeed. I try to do the same.

Thanks Reb. He's also a very kind man. (Sorry about the song....)

the Bag Lady said...

Everyone should be lucky enough to have an Uncle Walter in their lives! Great story, Frank.
And love the picture of Benny - gosh, how'd you get him to sit still that long?!

Ubiquitous said...

Why not use this song to get Elton John out of your head...

Ben Folds Five - Uncle Walter :)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=seagjqZz9-4

Its even (somewhat) lyrically relevent to boot!

http://www.lyricsfreak.com/b/ben+folds+five/uncle+walter_20016508.html

Leah J. Utas said...

What a lovely story about your Uncle Walter, and a great life lesson,too.

Love the crib board and that's a gorgeous picture of Benny at sunset.

Frank Baron said...

Thanks Baggie. I think he was asleep.

;)

Ubi, I have no problem with Elton. That particular song though (despite the apparent relevance of the title)...I dunno.... :)

Thanks Leah. Sometimes you click and get lucky. :)

Ubiquitous said...

What do you mean you dunno!? Ben Folds is the Elton John of the modern era! :) Well ok, but ever-so-slightly less camp.

Besides, Reb was the one complaining, I was just offering an alternative.

Anonymous said...

I got the board at the sportsman show but I don't remember if it was for you or dad.
Lisa

Kappa no He said...

You know whatI just realized? Japanese people don't do board games, at all. I think it's my duty to have my parents send over a cribbage board and teach some friends, relatives.

Frank Baron said...

Ubi, I'm sure she appreciates it too. :)

Lisa, I don't recall ripping Dad off for it so I think you got it for me. Maybe for my 50th?

Terrie, you never know. You could start a new fad. :)

Elizabeth Guy said...

Ohhhhh... such a sweet shot of Benny. He exudes so much intelligence there, gazing out at the water.

For all we know, he's busy designing a bridge!

Frank Baron said...

Oh jeepers Elizabeth, be careful!!

I think Ben is already suspecting he might be cute. If he gets wind that he's intelligent too - there'll be no living with him!

;)

Stace said...

I have never played cribbage in my life and have no idea how it's done. It's a card game? Can't be that exciting!

That is an extremely cool photo of Benny at the cottage.

Frank Baron said...

Yes Stace, it's a card game.

And if you don't think a card game can be exciting...

...you need to raise the stakes in the bet.... ;)

Kappa no He said...

Thanks for the Woo Hoo! (~0^)/~

Stace said...

Stakes are something that happens to vampires. I don't gamble :) (Except for this one time, I put a dollar in a pokie machine to try to be able to afford my scooter. I didn't win anything, but managed to get the scooter anyway, so gambling... sure, it works, why not!)

Dawn Colclasure said...

Awww. That picture of Benny is just ADORABLE, Frank! I loved your story. Thank you for sharing.

CrazyCath said...

Great story. I learned to play crib as a child too, and have loved it ever since. I never heard of getting skunked though. Maybe cuz I've never been skunked. ;0)

Great shot at the end - what a view. Ben knows how his bread's buttered eh?

I often go to see Hilary, and I'm glad you don't post too often. I can't keep up with everyone and I might miss something!
Whatever you post is full of richness anyway.

MagnoliaGirl said...

That is the coolest thing! I've never played cribbage in my life - checkers and "Fish" are about as complicated as I get. But I do like me some Scrabble!

LOVE the "Contemplative Benny"!!!!!

Frank Baron said...

You're welcome Terrie. :)

Glad you got the scooter Stace. :)

Thanks Dawn. :)

Thanks for the compliment Cath. I'll try not to write TOO often. ;)

I enjoy Scrabble too Sandra. Thanks for stopping by. :)