Issue 2-9-14 Website - page 11

According To Hoyle
by Lynne Belluscio
The exhibit at LeRoy House
this next year will be about
“play.” It’s a pretty wide topic.
How often did you hear your
mother tell you to “go outside
and play! “ Or “don’t play with
your food.” Or “you’ll have to
play inside today.” One of the
aspects of play that I’m having
a good time with right now, is
“playing cards.” Historically
I’m finding some really neat
stuff. For example, did you
know that at one time, the LeRoy
fire departments competed in
“whist’ tournaments? I suspect
that few people even know
how to play whist. What I have
discovered, is that whist was
first played in England in the
early 1700s. And it was a man
by the name of Edward Hoyle
who published the rules for the
game - - yes the man whose
name became associated with
the term “according to Hoyle.”
His name became attached to
published books on all kinds
of card games. We have in
the Jensen Collection a copy
of the 1845 “Hoyles Games”
which includes the rules for
many card games as well as
draughts (checkers), chess,
cricket, tennis, dominoes, and
cock fighting. (Don’t think I’ll
consider cock fighting as part of
the exhibit.)
Whist is a card game where
players take tricks. It evolved
into bridge whist which was
an ancestor of contract bridge.
I never learned to play bridge,
so I’m not sure what parts of
whist and contract bridge are
similar, but I did discover in
our collection the “trays” for
whist and I just bought on ebay
a beautiful wood counter to
keep track of the score. I also
located a “bridge set” with an
embroidered card table cover
and a set of snack dishes. We
also have a set of Jell-O molds
for clubs, diamonds, hearts, and
spades. We hope to invite local
groups to come to LeRoy house
to play cards. When I first came
to LeRoy House, I would pull
out a drawer and find decks of
cards. We also have a collection
of old card tables, as well as two
of the LeRoy card tables with
business listings printed on the
top. We think they were made
in the early 1940s.
In our recent newsletter, I
asked folks to remember the
card games they played - - or for
that matter still play. Cribbage,
euchre, poker, hearts, canasta,
pinochle, hearts, gin rummy,
Michigan rummy, old maid,
authors, crazy eights, uno - -
well the list goes on and on.
But then I want to know: could
you play cards on Sunday; what
kind of food did you eat; where
did you play cards; did you
play for money; . . . Of course
I’ve been asking folks about
playing cards. Ruth Harvie told
me about visiting her family in
Canada and they had to pull
the drapes to play cards, so
the neighbors wouldn’t they
were playing cards on
Sunday. I also talked
with Wilfred Vasile,
and he men t i oned
that growing up at
the School For the
Blind in Batavia, they
p l ayed wi t h ca rds
marked in Braile. (I
just bought a Braile
deck on ebay. Wilfred
is also bringing in for
the exhibit a checkers
set that he made, used
for blind students. I
still can’t imagine how
you can remember
all the moves! ) Wilfred also
mentioned a card game that his
Italian family played, called
Briscola. Later that day I talked
with Mimi Baglio about Italian
card games, and sure enough,
there were several games she
remembered. But what I learned
on the internet, was that the
Italian games are played with
a 40-card deck, with three face
cards and ace through 7. Instead
of the usual suits, the Italian
cards are marked with cups,
batons, swords, and sunbursts.
I just bought two Italian card
de ck s on ebay
including the rules
– in English for
the other popular
Italian card game,
Scopa. If anyone
remembers playing
these Italian games,
I really want to
hear from you.
The other Italian
game that I want to
know about is the
game played with
the hands – much
like rock, paper,
scissors. It’s called
Morra. Mimi said
that the men would
play during lunch
ou t beh i nd t he
Bottling Works on Mill Street.
The object is to predict the
number of fingers shown. I
discovered that the game was
prohibited in some places in
Italy until 2003, when it became
legal again.
So, on these snowy cold
days, while you’re sitting next
to the fireplace, trying to keep
warm, write down some of
your memories of playing -
-especially cards and give me
a call or send me an email note
Italian cards.
These tables were used in the Masonic
Lodge. They date from WWII because of
the notice about buying war bonds.
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