2023 sounds hard to believe, and like always 60 days from now we’ll still be writing 2022 on our checks. That’s just the way it is. I’m looking forward to another year of writing for the follies, and I truly thank everyone that shares with me that they enjoy my articles. January, a cold and long month, I’ve heard some say “as the days lengthens, the cold strengthens”, but hang on April will be here before you know it.
On January 2nd, 1960, the hottest ever southern hemisphere temperature was recorded in Oodnadatta, Australia, at a scorching 50.7°C (123°F). That’s blisteringly hot!
In the northern hemisphere, January is the coldest month. The lowest temperature ever recorded in the United States was minus 80 degrees Fahrenheit. This was recorded by a weather observer at Prospect Creek Camp in Alaska on January 23, 1971. With that temperature the experts claimed that your eyeballs would freeze. Now, think of that. I don’t think that even a Warm Morning Coal Stove could help us with that. Does anyone remember those? Right before bed the homeowner would fill it up with coal, and when you raised the lid a puff of blue coal smoke would rise up and with that an unmistakably smell of burning coal. Next morning, repeat the process, only now you had to grate down the ashes, and those ashes would end up on the driveway or the garden.
Now what do you do in January to help to get through those long winter evenings. We already mentioned Ice skating, and sleigh riding, but some nights it was just too cold for that, so what do you do? One word “ROOK”! Now for anyone that has never experienced the card game of Rook, try it at least once. There are still some hard-core Rook players in our community even today. Some played with the one’s in the deck, others did not, you are dealt 10 cards and you would bid on what you had in your hand plus the ‘five cards in the kitty or widow”, or as the official rules calls it the “nest”. The high bidder takes the widow and names the color that will be trumps. I’ll tell you this, the widow can help, or it can really hurt especially if it comes with a color you don’t have many of. The goal is to have the high cards of only two colors in your hand, and of course the Rook. When using ones, you can bid up to 180, without the ones, highest bid is 120.
When bidding, be careful because there are some people that will “sandbag” and will set the bidder. When someone goes set, they don’t make their bid, and the total bid amount is recorded as a negative amount on the score card. Years ago, the game of Rook was very popular in our rural communities, and I have seen photos of the old country stores with four men setting around a table playing Rook beside an old potbellied stove. There are still groups today that play progressive Rook which involves groups of as many as 20 people or more consisting of five or more tables. According to Wikipedia the game was introduced by George and Grace Parker (Now Parker Brothers) in 1906.
The games were more favorable in the Mennonite Culture as an alternative to the face cards that was used for gambling. The Rook cards were also referred to as Christian Card or missionary cards.
Well, there you have it. All you ever wanted to know about the game of Rook. Now I must mention Chinese Checkers, played with marbles, yes marbles. There is a special board for this, and if I remember correctly as many as six can play with each person having their own color marble. You have all your color marbles at one side of the board in a triangle and try to be the first to move them all to the opposite side of the board. This is done by moving or jumping other players marbles just like regular checkers. The first to do so wins the game.
Lastly, I want to mention the game of carrom. A board game that you use a round wooded (now plastic) shooter. The shooter has a hole in the middle so you can place your finger in for close carroms, or you can take your middle finger and flick your shooter into your opponent’s carroms hoping to knock them into one of the four corner nets. The downside to this game is it takes some getting used to, for if you play for an extended time it can make your middle finger sore. The upside is no electricity or batteries needed.
The first carrom boards were made by hand in 1892 by Henry Haskel. He was a Sunday School teacher and wanted something to help keep the boys away from the local pool halls. By the 1952, over Four million Carrom boards had been sold.
I hope, for at least some of you, this brought back memories of your family and friends enjoying a winter evening playing at least one of these games. It’s a shame those days are gone, now the young people and adults alike can’t live without a cell phone and texting during very little if any family time. In closing I wish everyone a prosperous and Happy New Year.
Believe it or not
Until next time