Question of the Week: Invisible collectibles

I cannot see or touch one of my most valuable collectible items; it is
a memory from earliest childhood that involves playing cards.

My family – parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles would gather for
their every-other-week card party held in my grandparents’ dining room.

Each family would bring their table and folding chairs and something to
eat. After all the greetings and hugs, the adults got down to the
serious business of playing Sheepshead or Smear, changing tables often,
so everyone got to play and visit with everyone else. The dozen or so
cousins in attendance played Bingo; Thimble, Thimble, Who’s Got the
Thimble; I Spy with My Little Eye; or Old Maid.

I remember how lucky I felt when Grandma Schultz would let me sit on
her lap at the table with the big people while she played. She
sometimes even let me throw her card onto the middle of the table.

Even bedtime was fun, because we got to sleep in “The Parlor,” a very
special room, never entered without special permission because it was
only for important visitors. The lucky child, determined by drawing
straws, got the “privilege” of bunking on the couch, which was scratchy
(horse-hide?), narrow, and short, while the rest of the cousins were
relegated to the floor.

I remember drifting off to sleep listening to good-natured table
pounding, groans of distress, hearty laughter, squeals of surprise and
phrases like “no schneider,” “don’t you have any trump?” “did you
forget how to deal?” and “you know you can’t win with a red hand.”

Back then I didn’t recognize what I was feeling, but I liked it. Now,
50+ years later I recognize that what I felt was love and security. I
was in a house full of people who all loved me, and each other, and who
weren’t afraid to show it. And they knew how to have fun. Those card
parties reinforced my feelings of belonging to a family that would
always accept and love me. Maybe, someday, they might even let me join
them around their card tables.

That’s why I enjoyed putting together this issue’s cover story. It made
me feel as good as I felt on that scratchy horse hide couch listening
to all the fun in the next room.

We’d like to know: Do you have an antique, vintage or collectible
item that brings warm memories? Does an everyday item from today send
you back – in your mind – to a bygone time?

E-mail and let us know, or post a reply here.

Sandy and Chris - cribbage.jpg
My son, Christopher, caught the card-playing bug early. Here I’m teaching him the rules of cribbage – has it been 30 years ago already?! He also plays sheepshead when the family gets together. He regularly beats me at both. Perhaps his four children will carry that same warm feeling when they overhear the conversations going around our card tables today.