Card games have been a part of my social life since I was a baby. Literally. When I was born, we lived in a travel trailer at the Holiday Rest campground on Raccoon Lake. Evenings and weekends brought out all the older folks to sit around under the strings of cheerful, plastic owl patio lights and play cards. Spades, Hearts, Poker, Pinochle, Rook, Rummy, Euchre. The cheap beer flowed and ashtrays propped up slow burners orphaned by a good hand…or burned out by a streak of them. The story goes that I did some of my teething on someone’s classic Zippo sitting around the glow of one of those lakeside gatherings.
After we moved to a little rental cabin a few miles away, we’d go back to visit our old neighbors…and play cards. When I was 3 or 4, mom and dad bought their first house, and started attending church. The impromptu picnic table matches were replaced by a nice couple or two over for dinner on a Friday or Saturday night with cards after the kitchen table was cleared…and after pie, of course. Usually Euchre or Rummy. Many of these couples were older than my parents with kids that were grown or old enough to stay home alone. That was fine with me. I typically preferred the company of adults anyhow. I would pull up a stool, watch & listen. It’s how I learned to play, and how I learned the art of good-natured trash talk.
My aunt gave me a deck of cards one year for my birthday and showed me how to bridge shuffle. I carried them with me everywhere and wore them (and my poor mother) out practicing. That first deck of my own was Bicycle brand, and I think they were the narrower Bridge size to accommodate my tiny paws. I’ve had many decks since…even some plastic jobbies for outdoor water resistance. But ultimately, my loyalty is with Bee’s Diamond Back “Club Special.” The linen finish makes them slick but not slippery, the full 2.5” width makes the proportions just right, and the red is just deep enough not to be garish. Jackpot. Make no mistake, it’s life’s little pleasures that make it “Casino Quality,“ friends.