Friday, 10 January 2014

Montana Red Dog

I played cards a lot as a child. No TV, video games or internet back in those days. You used to have to make your entertainment. As my mum always told me when I did something as new-fangled as listening to the radio.

Bored during the summer holidays, me and my brother learned all the two-handed games in a book we'd borrowed from the library. Crazy, old-fashioned games like bezique and pinochle. If we'd had computers, we'd have had our backs turned or been in different rooms

Then there were the times at the caravan. Without electricity or TV, radio and cards were our only entertainment once the sun had gone down and we couldn't play cricket. Not just me and Dave, but Mum, Dad, Aunties and Uncles, too.

I remember playing Newmarket with Uncle George and Aunt Florrie. She was full of great stories. "I always got a clout every Christmas." That's how they mostly started.

I'd have suspected they let me win. Except they were old school. That's how I learned to play whist and solo. It was one of my Mum's principles. If you play a game, you play it properly. No special indulgences for the kids.

Maybe that's why I still love playing cards. When I played with the adults, we were equals. No special favours for anyone. For once, we were all playing to the same rules.

I taught my kids Montana Red Dog yesterday. A game I learned from Alias Smith & Jones. And got me suspended from school.

For an hour or two, they forgot the digital world. As did I.


kaiserhog said...

Good for you, these computers and the internet rule us. I also think that card games and such are important to kids. They really require them to think and use their imagination much more than the comptuter.

Tom said...

"Maybe that's why I still love playing cards. When I played with the adults, we were equals. No special favours for anyone. For once, we were all playing to the same rules."

What a wonderful observation. It's the same reason why kids like playing board games with their parents. And these days, if they play video games against them, they know that they can beat them!

Gary Gillman said...

When I grew up in Montreal (50's-60's), one of the radio stations, maybe CJAD, "800 on your dial", had a community feature where local events were publicized. There were regular announcements for a "military whist" taking place at a church, maybe St. James Anglican downtown but that may be stretching memory. The church and CJAD still exist, but I doubt military whist is still played in Montreal. It sounds quintessentially English, and Montreal is more French now, but also there is a Victorian twang to the name and surely it belongs to history, perhaps in England too. To this day I don't know if the term meant a particular variety of whist or standard whist played by military veterans, perhaps of a particular service branch.

It's one of those natural poetries with its five syllables isn't it, "mil-i-tar-y-whist". Like another I can't get out of my head these days, "De-troit, Chi-ca-go, Cha-tan-oog-a-Ba-ton-Rouge" (from the Linda Ronstadt cover of Back In The USA).


Gary Gillman said...

I am delighted to see that the military whist tradition continues in Montreal Anglican Churches:

Reading up on whist (forerunner to contract bridge), military whist is a variation apparently invented in the 1940's by an American insurance executive; I have been unable to determine why the adjective military was used, perhaps the game became popular on army bases in the war years.


Gary Gillman said...

Ron, here is a description of military whist in a (contemporary) British context. The name military must come from the names of the point trophies, as e.g., flags, trenches, guns. The fact that the award for 10 tricks or more is called "Spitfire" makes me wonder at an American invention of this variant, yet military whist is played in the U.S. undeniably, particularly in Connecticut churches it appears. Perhaps one of the allied forces in England in WW II originated the game and it spread to Anglo-American circles after.

Your recollection of playing whist as a youth made me recall this term from Montreal radio days in the 60's and I am sure I have not heard the term for 40 years!