Wintry days, like this one back in the late 50s and 60s, usually found us sitting by the fireplace with Mom once again beating the pants off us. In the nicest way, of course, we were playing Scrabble. Once again it was Denis, Terry, and me, LB was “playing” with Mom.
Today, December 16, 2008, is the 60th birthday of Scrabble. The game came out almost 2 years after I was born, so by the time we began playing, Denis and I could read and spell at grade school level and Terry was beginning to read too. LB, who does not like her name used on blogs “played” so well with Mom and for so many years that she eventually grew up to become the aficionado (Good Word!) known as Scrabblebuff. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Scrabble is currently produced in 29 different languages. The latest is the Welsh language Scrabble introduced in 2006. * ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Mom Mom was a ruthless Scrabble player. Although she used a variation of the rules in order to encourage us with big scores, she never let us win-ever. We played a “special” game in which the premium spots could be used more than once if you could make a word connecting with a letter already in place on a triple or double. But in return for that allowance, misspell a word and you lost 25 points. In addition, we had to be able to define any word we used if she asked what it meant. To this day, if any of us uses the word ti (a plant found in Hawaii), we flash back to the first time Mom pulled that word on each of us. She got each of us in turn. We older ones got a big kick out of seeing her get the younger two. We also have used it on our own kids too. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Somewhere in the world there are over a million missing Scrabble tiles.* ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ As we grew up, playing Scrabble became much more than an entertaining way for Mom to teach us spelling, and increase our vocabularies. She used it to help us discover logic and more importantly how to be good sports and to accept what life dished out gracefully. The game became a device for talking about what was going on in our lives. Milestones were discussed over private one on one games. I even received confirmation that my suspicions of the true origin of Christmas presents were correct over a Scrabble game and I was the one who broached the subject. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The highest number of points that can be scored on the first go is 128 - with 'muzjiks' (Russian peasants). *
(*find 60 Scrabble facts) ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Later, it was life altering events that were the real reason the board was pulled out. Boy/girl friend problems gave way to larger issues. Should the boys choose the Army or the Navy? Wedding plans were made over games , what to name our babies (I had so many lovely girls names picked out for my four boys) should we move away from home to Texas? Mom stuck to the rules-always- we had to have a meaning for whatever we chose.
I met a woman here in Coffeyville, Kansas who reminded me of Mom in some ways; her quirky sense of humor, her down to earth values, her willingness to try new things. It wasn’t until the day she left last week, when she gave me her Scrabble game, that I discovered she was an avid Scrabble player. Oddly enough, we’d not discussed our mutual love for the game.
I started playing Scrabble with my computer a few months ago. Although it’s not very satisfactory- it won’t even accept the word blog. Sometimes, as I play alone in the RV, I find my self thinking about what Mom would say about my life on the road. I think she would rejoice with us that we are able to do it. She too was always ready to go down a road she'd never traveled before.
Merry Christmas, Mom. Want to Play Scrabble?
See ya down the road,