Cribbage, or crib, is a card game traditionally for two players, but commonly played with three, four or more… my dad always played it with his dad in that trailer in Ohio, as Pop lived out the last decade of his life. We used to drive across the Ohio countryside for hours to get there, rolling past old family homes and graves; houses without plumbing that held stories of relatives, sent to live with others during depression era times. The mounds were Indian burial sites.
At Ohio family reunions I remember having jello with marshmallows and canned fruit as a kid. The bear that Uncle Everett shot hung on the wood paneled wall. The sound of him hitting the brass spittoon with chaw still rings in my ears.
The can of lard on the stove. The eels in the freezer, the stories of hard times. The memories of entering into the cellar with gramma – the sacred underworld of endless canned goods, jellies and pickles – and choosing whatever jam I wanted. The macaroni and cheese that Pop would make for us kids after she was gone. And most of all, the first time I ever saw my dad cry, red faced in a chair on the porch,. The day my gramma died. I was playing with plastic soldiers on the white crocheted bedspread with little pom pom balls when mom told me. I cried and cried. A seven year-old’s first experience with death.
Never again would we have kool-aid at communion on Sunday mornings at the Methodist church. Never again would I see my Pop, light in spirit, ’till the day he died. But those memories went deep inside me. They made me who I am today.
So crib, I want to learn to play.