Friday, May 19, 2006

I missed posting the last couple Fridays, sorry about that. I had to return to Montana to attend my grandfather's funeral.

I suppose I was lucky when I was a kid, all four of my grandparents were alive until I was an adult and I can easily remember three of my great-grandparents. One great-grandparent passed away when I was in second grade, the other two when I was in high school.

Grandpa Licht was my last living grandparent. He was the patriarch of card games. Whist, pitch, poker and cribbage were frequently played when grandpa was present, but pinochle was king. He was a formidable opponent and formidable partner.

He never missed a play, and if you were his partner or opponent and missed a play you would not soon make the mistake a second time. He wouldn't chew you out, he would simply pause, or raise an eyebrow. If the error was subtle he would briefly explain what you missed.

I lived with Grandma and Grandpa Licht for a year when I was in high school. We played 3-handed pinochle every night, unless there was company in which case we would play 4-handed pinochle.

I can still remember the two of them making outrageously high bids. Grandpa would say, "You can't have that much. You're just bidding to piss me off. 480!"

Grandma would glare at him over the top of her glasses and mumble, "God. Damn. Asshole. 490!"

"Jez-uz pills.... 500."

"Now you're playing like a God-damned sausage. 510."

"God....... What have you got anyway? ....... You can't have anything. 520!"

"I got mine. You need to pay attention to the game. 530."

And so it would go. For the benefit of those who aren't familiar with pinochle, 300 is a pretty steep bid in 3-handed. Four hundred is a pretty steep bid in 4-handed pinochle.

For the first three decades of life my love of games was fostered almost exclusively with card games. I played a few boardgames when I was a kid. I played a few boardgames in the Army. I played a few boardgames in college. I played an awful lot of cards though. Played spades and hearts so often in the Army that I don't care if I ever play again. I also learned euchre in the Army, it quickly surpassed pinochle as my favorite game.

It has only been within the last 5 or 6 years that I became a boardgame fanatic. I often wonder how I could have missed out on the boardgame scene in my younger days. I sometimes feel as though I squandered three decades.

Looking back, those years weren't squandered. I enjoyed playing all those hours of card games. I still enjoy euchre, pinochle, cribbage, poker, etc., but since I moved to Alaska I am only rarely able to play those games. Perhaps it was the lack of card play that fueled my exploration into Euro games.

I guess I have my Grandfather to thank for fostering my love of games. My whole family has him to thank. He took the time to teach his children and grandchildren games. Gaming will be a part of his family for many decades after his passing. We are all better for it.


Coldfoot said...

Your grandparents sound like a riot, Brian. You're very lucky to have all those wonderful memories to carry with you.

Unknown said...

Sorry about your grandfather. Sounds like he was quite a character!

Grandparents are superb card players. I wonder if we'll be that good when we're old. I suspect they got good when they were adults, so all this card-playing mastery will probably pass with them. :(

My wife's grandpa was a wicked cribbage player.

Gerald McD said...

My condolences on your loss.

It is indeed comforting and pleasurable to recall fun gaming with grandparents and other family members. I'm glad you have some fond memories of those times.