Thursday, February 10, 2011

After a dinner like that, now what?

What would you bid?
After pushing yourself away from the table after consuming your allotment of Kartoffelklösse (Kartoffelklöße in German), general you didn’t move very quickly. After dinner, my Grandma, my Mother and my Aunt cleared the dining table, while the men moved to the living room to unbuckle their belts and talk about whatever it was that adults talked about back then. My Grandfather would turn on the radio, “a beautiful wood cabinet floor model Grundig,” tune into the short or long wave bands and listen to some German music. The HIFI sound emitted from the Grundig was incredible

My Grandmother, my Mother and my Aunt cleared the table, bringing all of the dirty dishes to the kitchen. Grandma didn’t have a dishwasher and I don’t even think they were invented yet. Grandma had a tablecloth that was white vinyl on one side, used for dining, and green felt on the reverse side. As soon as the green felt side was up, the men returned to the table. They would take out a deck of Pinochle cards and begin to play. They were very vocal when playing cards. To the best of my recollection they didn’t ever swear. Pinochle is a bidding game where you bid based on the value of the cards dealt to you, calling a trump suit, and the possible number of points (tricks) that you could take playing the hand out. Card counting is a major part of the game. The 10 card was lower than an Ace, but higher than a King, Queen, or Jack. One the aces were out, the 10 became the highest card in the deck. If someone played a 10 or a King, thinking there were no higher cards left, they had not kept track. If a person took the bid, they called trump and had to play against two other players.   

The children, weather permitting, either went across the street to the park, or made forts in one of the bedrooms, taping bed sheets to the painted walls, all with the approval of our grandmother. While we were playing there was frequently an outburst in the dining room where one of the fathers would slam down a card that was higher than the one that was played. This was called a “smear”. If someone clearly underbid they would be called a “Piker.” Meanwhile the ladies were in the kitchen making, are you read for this? A snack! Once the card game ended the men would leave the table while the women set it again. Stick with me there is more to follow…

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