18 May, 2008

Gardening and Autobridge

Today we went to the Garden Fair. I had been looking forward to it for weeks. It's hosted by the local Garden Council, and numerous garden clubs from around town get together to sell both annuals and perennials, with proceeds going to the clubs and the Garden Council. And would you believe we didn't buy a single thing? The fair was smaller than I expected, and many of the plants looked just...okay. There were hostas selling for $12. After dividing and transplanting literally scores of them the last two weeks to other parts of the yard, I couldn't bring myself to spend that kind of cash for just one. But that's me, I'm cheap. What can I say?

Still, it was a nice day to get out. The fair was along Central Street, which is host to an assortment of cute little shops and boutiques. Not the kind of place I'd shop all the time, but definitely nice to visit or take visitors to dine and shop. We also went to several yard sales, decided not to buy a 120-year-old organ although its seashell motif matched my headboard, but did come back with a couple of Autobridge playing boards.

According to Board Game Geek, this is how it's played:

Autobridge is a bridge teaching and solitaire playing device and series of play sheets dating back to at least 1938.... While the specific materials and details of design have varied over the years, the fundamental design has remained. It is a board which may be opened to insert a sheet with cards indices and suits printed on it. The covering board is closed and the hand is played by opening windows. The player decides on their own play and reveals the next window to see what the expert recommends. An accompanying booklet explains the expert's recommendation. The system can be used to teach the completely naive novice to highly advanced players. Many supplementary sheets were produced over the decades. Mainly a teaching aide, there is no scoring, per se... Most versions found in online auctions appear to date from the 1950s.
Both the ones we picked up were copyright 1938; one has plated slides, the other plain silver. The silver one came with this notice:
This is one of the last of the famous Autobridge Textolite model playing boards. There will be no more available during the war. We regret that we had to give you unplated slides. Those in your board were made before the war and government restrictions now prohibit plating for non-essential purposes. If friends who see this set wish to buy one, please advise them that they may still be able to obtain an occasional one in some of the largest department stores. If they are unsuccessful, they can purchase directly from us a set containing our attracting Prestwood model playing board, made of masonite base and leather-grained fibre top, at $4.00.
I love finding war notices like this; many of my children's books from the forties talk about how they are printed on cheaper paper as part of the war effort. These little mementos are a unique sort of connection to what day-to-day sacrifices must have been like for my grandparents, who were in their late teens and early twenties during WWII.

I never learned how to play bridge, and even with this self-teaching tool, I don't see myself investing the effort. But I thought these Autobridge sets were kind of neat, and I plan to actually hang them on the wall in the porch stairwell. (I'm going for the Crackerbarrel Restaurant look with junk like this.) The two sets, with several books, manuals, and dozens and dozens of "practice hand" inserts, set us back $6.00.

My dad had learned to play bridge when he was still very young. He was raised by his mother and grandmother, and they taught him the rules so that they could use him as a fourth if they needed one. I don't know if his siblings play as well; I'll have to ask them sometime. But I like the image of my dad as a child, curly blond hair and bright blue eyes peering over the edge of a card table, his legs swinging because they are too short to reach the floor. He'd no doubt get a kick out of these boards.

While we were cruising the streets looking for a good bargain, we stopped to look at other peoples' gardens. Here are a few ideas I particularly liked:

A trellis made of twigs.

A wooden fence. We have been vacillating between an iron fence, or creating something like this ourselves, to fence off a portion of our yard to create a bigger "back yard." The wooden lattice looks more authentic to the bungalow/twenties era, and might shield us a bit better. Having a corner lot, where your yard is essentially exposed to every neighbor who walks by, can be a bit like living in a fishbowl.

What looks like terracotta (or possibly resin) architectural pieces on the facade of a two flat. Now something like this--but with a more deco flair--might spice up The Box House.

Looking at other peoples' houses and playing outside all afternoon didn't leave much time to work on The Box House today. Oh well, it's nice to take a day off occasionally.


Sandy said...

Wonderful photos! I thought you were working... you were out getting ideas!

Joanne said...

Thanks, Sandy! I can go with that.

Anonymous said...

Love this post, Joanne - it's rambly and full of good things. A little like Evanston? Mm. Now I wish I was having Buffalo Joe's for lunch.

Jen said...

I enjoyed this post too! :)

Andy said...

Cool autobridge boards--and they look like they SHOULD be hung and displayed...cool pieces.


TWELVE DOLLARS for a hosta? Those better be super-hostas that water and weed themselves for that price. Jeez...