Monday, October 18, 2010

The Infamous Croquet Set, by Lorraine Friedman

When I was 11 my mom “purchased” the greatest croquet set with her saved S&H trading stamps. It had a metal cart - beautiful (I thought) and wooden mallets with corresponding colored croquet balls (the size of large oranges). The anticipation of playing this 'unknown' game was incredible. My mom had shared photos with me of her playing this "most refined" game in the 30's - the women were dressed in lovely dresses and the men wore dress shirts and ties!

The first "Family Croquet Game" was that Memorial Day - my grandparents, my parents and I all gathered at my Aunt & Uncle's house (I had two younger girl cousins). We eagerly set up the beginning and ending pegs - and the hoops the ball had to go through in between. My Aunt had a HUGE backyard, so we spread it out. We went over the rules - and the game began.

Us younger ones had a little trouble using the mallets (which were large for us) - but once we got the hang of it, it became all out war against the grown ups. We quickly learned you were allowed but one hit per turn. However, we also learned that if your ball hits or touches an opponent's ball, you could put your foot on YOUR ball and smack the hell out of it, thus sending your opponent’s ball into oblivion.

The next holiday gathering was 4th of July and the competition got stronger as everyone wanted to use the red mallet and raced to get it. No one wanted the brown one that we referred to as 'prunes and things'; yes, it was that color brown.  And this date welcomed the addition of my 5 year old cousin as a player to be reckoned with, who was becoming quite the little croquet warrior.

The next tournament was on Labor Day, and again, the games went on all afternoon.

As I got older - when I reached the moody teenage year of 14 - we didn't seem to play as much - the grown ups kinda lost interest, so it was basically my two younger cousins and whatever adult they could drag in to play with them.

Then the once adored croquet set went into my parent's garage ... where it sat for 20 years - it then went into my garage at my own house. Since we had a large pool in our backyard, my son and his cousins weren't interested in playing croquet, choosing to swim instead. Oddly enough, they did play the dreaded dangerous dart/hoop game we had.

We now live in Tucson and my son is in Law School, and what is left of our family is on the other side of the country......but in my garage, in a large plastic container, is the once beloved croquet set, along with the metal dart game, horseshoes and Twister (remember that one?)

I don't have the heart to give it all away - so it will sit there until the day my son 'inherits" it, and perhaps it will get to be played with the family I hope he has one day.

By Lorraine Friedman, guest Groovy Reflections blogger