My husband’s grandmother, Vina Hein was an amazing woman. We always loved going up to visit her and Grandpa Hein. They lived on a ranch outside of Forsyth, Montana, and that place will forever live in my memory files. I can see every part of the house and the different things we did there. I remember all the nights of playing cards. We always played “Spades” and Grandma always had a funny saying when she looked at her hand and it wasn’t a good one. She would tell us that she had “a hand like a foot!!” We often looked through all the old photo albums too. Those pictures are great treasures, and I feel privileged to have been able to look through them. They were pure family history. Going to see Grandma and Grandpa Hein was such a blessing, and one I will always cherish.
Grandma Hein was born on Groundhog’s Day, a fact that she enjoyed very much. It seems that finding out if spring would come early each year was something special. Of course, the biggest problem with that is that all too often Punxsutawney Phil was, and still is, very wrong. I have given up on that silly ground hog!! Even with this morning’s prediction that we will have 6 more weeks of Winter, it would be just a coincidence if that is the way it went, because that silly ground hog gets it wrong 99% of the time. Still, for Grandma, it was cool to have that birthday. I guess that when you think about it, at least you were on the downhill side of the Winter, so spring was coming.
I think Grandma was like me, in that Winter was her least favorite season. Living in the country is more work anyway, and the Winter weather makes it worse. Montana winters are notoriously bitter, so I can see why she would rather have any other season. Grandma wasn’t one to have lots of flowers in the house, that I recall, but that didn’t mean she couldn’t grow a garden, because she certainly could. She canned vegetables and made jellies and apple butter. She also made wonderful strawberry-rhubarb pie. there was also always plant of fresh real cream on her table from the cows they milked. You haven’t tasted cream, until you have had it fresh, without all the processing. Oh my!! It is so good. I will never forget the trips we took to see Grandma and Grandpa Hein. I will always have those cherished memories. Today would have been Grandma Hein’s 112th birthday. Happy birthday in Heaven Grandma Hein. We love and miss you very much.
Monday nights during the school year, basically September to late April or early May, Bob and I bowl on a league at Sunrise Lanes in Casper. There are a few fun things we do there, like bowling poker, pushing nickels, and the high game pot. I don’t often win the poker hand for some reason, but I continue to play anyway. I suppose that the winners vary pretty well, but it does sometimes seem that the same people win a lot. It really doesn’t matter, since it’s only a dollar a game to get in. Obviously, the more cards you get the better your chances of winning, and I’m not a bad bowler, so I usually get enough cards to have a fair shot…since two cards are taken for every strike and converted split, and one for every spare.
I don’t play poker any other time, but in years past, I played Cribbage with my Uncle Bill when he would visit or we would visit there, and Spades with Bob’s grandfather whenever we would go to visit in Forsyth, Montana. Those are always fond memories for me, because these men were two people that I very much enjoyed spending time with. They were also pretty much the only people who I played cards with…not because I refused to play cards with anyone else, but simply because they were the only ones I knew who really played cards much.
As I was gathering my cards to turn them in at the end of the game at bowling on Monday night, I looked at them, and decided that they were really a particularly bad hand. Almost nothing matched, and nothing lined up for a straight or flush either. Without thinking, I made the comment that I had a hand like a foot. That was something I hadn’t thought of in years. I thought that it was Bob’s grandfather who used to call it that, but then I thought maybe it was my Uncle Bill. I honestly am not sure, but I know that I always thought that was quite funny. Nevertheless, it described the hand that I had quite well.
I haven’t played regular cards in a number of years now, but in many ways, I think I miss that. I know it really isn’t about the card game, but about the time spent with those two dear men. We always related so well to each other, and I miss the fun times we had. Bob’s grandfather is gone now, having passed away ten years ago on October 22, 2004. While my Uncle Bill is still living, Alzheimer’s Disease has taken many of his memories away from him now, and I am simply thankful that he knew who we were after we told him that we were his brother’s family, when we visited him recently. Cribbage came up, but I’m not sure he would remember how to play anymore. Whichever of these two dear men used to say, a hand like a foot, no longer really matters, because I don’t think I will ever hear that again, except in my own memory.
In years gone by, the choices for recreational activities were pretty limited. There weren’t any radio stations to play music for dances all the time, things like television and computers were still in the future. So, what did people do to entertain themselves. Of course, there were things like the occasional barn dance, and the county fair, but in reality, there were not a lot of choices. The saloons wee an option for the men, but not for the nice women…in fact they were embarrassed if anyone knew that their men were in the saloon at all. Not that the men were very influenced by how the women felt about it. If they wanted to go in there, they did, and that was it.
The saloon was where the men could get a drink and socialize with friends, or they could play poker. The other things that happened in the saloon, such as the womanizing and fighting, were not talked about in good moral company. That didn’t mean that all men engaged in such immoral activities, but I’m sure some did. Of course, just having those dance hall girls in the place, is enough to make most women suspect.
Poker was pretty much the card game of choice in the saloons, but maybe some of the men played it elsewhere. Back then, I doubt if the women would be caught dead playing poker, because it was probably considered a sin. These days, playing poker is considered simply a fun activity, and it is played in homes, casinos, and even bowling alleys. Lots of people play, and have a great time doing it. Times were just different back then, and sometimes I wonder if that wasn’t a better thing. There seemed to be an innocence then that we don’t even have in our grade school years in school now.
Nevertheless, I don’t think there is anything wrong with playing cards, or even poker for that matter. I play a little poker at the bowling, alley, which is much different than regular poker, in that you just draw the cards when you get a strike or spare. Personally I’d rather play, Cribbage or Spades, over poker in most situations, but in all reality, I’m not much on playing cards anymore. I suppose that is because there is too many other activities to occupy the mind these days. I have to think I like that better than I would have the days when cards were the main entertainment.