Stories from the Stringam Family Ranches of Southern Alberta

From the 50s and 60s to today . . .

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Family Evenings

Family games - mischief made legal

On the ranch in the evenings, particularly the long, winter evenings, opportunities for entertainment were few.
If there wasn't anything on the one TV channel, you pretty much had to come up with your own.
Entertainment, I mean.
This meant music (the make-your-own variety), which we practised with more or less success.
Mostly less.
My own personal favourite.
Having a drink with the hired men in the bunkhouse.
Probably the least recommended for us kids.
Or games and/or puzzles.
Usually we went with games and/or puzzles.
One didn't get a lecture from one's parents when one played games and/or puzzles . . .
We had several favourites.
A word game which aimed for word construction creativity.
But only good for four of us six players.
Another word game. This one, disclosure being the goal.
Boggle. (Or if we were feeling daring, Big Boggle.)
Another word game . . .
Huh. I just realized that we played a lot of word games.
And three of us ended up being writers.
Go figure . . .
A card game played by four players.
Unless you're from Southern Alberta.
Where it is played by forty tables of four players.
But that is another story . . .
A card game resembling bridge and also played extensively in Southern Alberta. (Also known as 'Apostate Rook' if you played 'One High'. At least according to my husband.)
Poker and sequence, all rolled into one happy package.
And finally, Monopoly.
The apex of games.
The ultimate in Stringam family fun.
And won, inevitably, by Jerry.
Not that he tried.
Or even appeared to try.
He hummed, sang, bounced his knee rhythmically, talked, told jokes and CLEANED OUR CLOCKS.
Almost every time.
Why did we keep on playing?
Good question.
Inevitably, I would end Monopoly with a tiny little hoard of cash, very tiny, clutched in one hand as I stared with dismay at my little shoe, parked firmly on Park Place or Boardwalk.
Each with their large, expensive hotel.
And each with Jerry's smiling face behind them.
I would hand over my little pile, along with the last of my properties, and quietly fade into the sunset.
And immediately challenge him to a rematch.
To which he happily complied.
Okay, I get it now.
It's just another example of the 'I'll get him next time!' mentality.
I never did.
Get him, I mean.
Moving on . . .
Puzzles posed a bit less competition.
A more relaxing way to spend time together.
Visiting was permitted. Even encouraged.
But minutes could go by with soft music playing in the background and not one word said.

Our family's evenings now consist of visiting or playing cards.
Or watching movies.
Not too different from those I experienced growing up.
Family time.
It's a good thing.


  1. There was always a card table set up in the living room with a puzzle underway. All hours of the day there would be someone, just passing by, who would put a piece in place. Gram always had her crochet/knitting/embroidery/tatting etc etc. Mom just always seemed to be busy doing something. Some nights the TV was never turned on. We had parcheesi, snakes and ladders, checkers, books, art supplies. Dad played the harmonica. Wonderful family times. thanks for reminding me.

  2. I agree... family time IS a good thing. It sounds like some pretty fun FHE's at your house. My dad always liked RISK so we went through a phase where we played that every week. After a few months we got pretty good and could beat him once in a while. If you could beat dad, you knew you were considered an expert! :)

  3. Monopoly ... the source of all fights with my brother when I was a kid (and, actually, even some of them when we were older) ... he was CRAZY competitive with the game.

    It's so much nicer playing Monopoly Junior with my monkies :)

  4. Oh how I wish we could wipe out technology sometimes! As much as I appreciate the convenience of the computer and the mind numbing of a television program sometimes, I also so much love the moments of silence from these things.

    Our family has enjoyed so many great evenings playing games, sitting around a fire, getting out and walking or riding, etc.

    Parcheesi is a favorite of mine. Much to my chagrin our son loves Monopoly and Chess! Two games I dislike greatly!

    I am new to the NOBH crew. Loving your rustic fence backdrop here on your blog! Thanks for linking up with NOBH!


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