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Of The Mid-Ohio Valley

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April 17, 2018

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Issue # 932

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TIDBITS® PLAYS A FEW

CARD GAMES by Kathy Wolfe

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Pick a card, any card! This week, Tidbits investigates the history of playing cards, as well as some well-known and not-so-well-known card games. • History points to China as the country of origin of playing cards. A princess in the Tang Dynasty was mentioned in writing as playing the “leaf game” in a record from the year 868. It‟s believed that playing cards then spread to India and Persia, followed by Egypt, and to Europe by the end of the 14th century. • Early European cards from the 1300s were illustrated by hand by artists, often painted in gold, and were an expensive luxury afforded only by the wealthy aristocracy. Toward the end of that century, woodcuts were invented, which made the production of cards cheaper and more available to the common man. Once the printing press was invented, cards could be mass-produced, and games became popular across Europe. Cards were made from up to 6 pieces of paper glued together, and were much larger than the cards of today. • Designs of the cards’ suits featured a great variety of symbols – boars, bears, flowers, falcons, lions, rabbits, and cups. By the end of the 1400s, pictures included kings either seated on a throne or mounted on horseback. as well as queens, horsemen, viceroys, and foot soldiers.

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CARD GAMES (continued): • Although one side of the card featured artwork, the backs were plain. A plain back created the problem of being easily marked, which could be recognized by an opponent. Since cards were expensive, they had to be returned to the workshop for cleaning. It wasn‟t until the late 1700s that manufacturers began printing patterns of stars or dots on the back to eliminate the problem. • It didn’t take long for cards to get a bad name. An official ordinance banned playing cards in Bern, Switzerland as early as 1367. In the early 1400s, Franciscan missionary St. Bernadino of Siena preached against card games, and those at his gatherings, known as “Bonfires of the Vanities,” threw their cards into the fire. • In 1480, in France, the familiar suits of spades, hearts, diamonds, and clubs were produced for the first time. • Playing cards have two different functions, either for gambling or for playing games of skill. When introduced, they were an alternative to more academic games, such as chess, or for games of luck, such as dice. They also offered a different way to tell fortunes. • The ace of spades in a deck of cards typically has a more ornate design than the others. This practice began in 1712, when England‟s King James I instigated a tax on playing cards. He required that the ace of spades carry a label or insignia as proof that taxes had been paid, and printing houses began embossing their logos on the ace. This practice led to the catchphrase “not playing with a full deck.” Some folks avoided paying the tax by refusing to buy the ace of spades when they purchased a deck of cards. Those playing with only 51 cards were considered stupid, leading to the motto.

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CARD GAMES (continued): • Two men from Uruguay, attorney Segundo Santos and architect Alberto Serrato, created the game of canasta in 1939. Although it spread quickly across South America, canasta wasn‟t introduced in the United States until 1948, when it was known as Argentine Rummy. The game uses 108 cards – two complete decks of 52, plus the four jokers. Players attempt to make matching sets of seven cards of the same rank and “go out” by playing all cards in their hand. The first team to reach 5,000 points is the winner. Santos and Serrato never copyrighted their game, and considered it their gift to the world. • The English game of whist takes its name from a 17th-century word meaning “quiet, silent, or attentive,” with the root of the modern word “wistful,” defined as “thoughtful or reflective.” It was very popular in Britain in the 1700s and 1800s, and is considered the forerunner of bridge. Two teams of two try to win the most out of 13 possible “tricks,” with part of the skill being players‟ ability to remember which cards have already been played. Perhaps the name takes its name from the fact that players may not speak about their hand or even signal their partner. • In the game of gin rummy, Aces are the lowest card, not highest as in other games. Elwood T. Baker and his son Graham invented the game in New York City in 1909. The strategy is to improve the hand dealt by forming matching sets, known as melds, while eliminating “deadwood,” all those that don‟t fit into any meld. There are two types of melds – sets of 3 or 4 cards with the same rank, such as 7s, 8s, or 9s, and runs of 3 or more cards of the same suit in sequence.

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* That iconic symbol of the Old West, the Pony Express, was based on the mail system used throughout the Mongol Empire in the 13th century. However, the Mongol riders often covered 125 miles in a single day, which was faster than the best record held by a Pony Express rider. * Someone with way too much spare time discovered that a quarter has 119 grooves on its edge. * What's in a name? A great deal, it turns out, if you're talking about housing prices. Those who study such things say that a house on a "boulevard" is valued at over one-third more than the same house that has "street" in its address.

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* Confectioner Milton Hershey suffered through founding two candy companies that ended in failure, then succeeded on his third attempt, and finally sold that company and used the proceeds to found the Hershey Company. After all his hard work, though, he seemed to be less interested in enjoying the fruits of his labors than in helping others. In 1909 he established the Hershey Industrial School for Orphaned Boys, and 10 years later he donated control of the company to a trust for the school. Today the institution is called the Milton Hershey School, and it continues to have a controlling interest in the candy company. * Southern California has more cars than India has cows. If cows are sacred in India, what does that say about how Californians feel about their automobiles? *** Thought for the Day: "Men are not against you; they are merely for themselves." -- Gene Fowler (c) 2018 King Features Synd., Inc.

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CARD GAMES (continued): • Folks in America have been playing Solitaire since the late 1800s. In England, the game is called Patience, and was first included in a book of card games in 1870, “Illustrated Games of Patience,” written by Lady Adelaide Cadogan. • The deck of cards used in the game of Pinochle is rather unique. It‟s just 48 cards, with two of each suit of Nines, Tens, Jacks, Queens, Kings, and Aces. There are no cards for the numbers two through eight. . The rank of cards is also unusual with the Ace as the highest, followed by 10, K, Q, J, and 9. Players accumulate points by winning tricks or by achieving certain combinations of cards. The player achieving a combination of the Queen of Spades and the Jack of Diamonds has scored a “Pinochle,” worth 40 points. The word itself comes from the French word binocle, meaning eyeglasses. German immigrants brought the game to America, mispronouncing and misspelling the French word, so that the game became known as Pinochle.

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FOOD OF THE WEEK:

CRACKER JACKS

• The game of UNO uses a deck of 108 cards broken down into four colors, red, green, blue, and yellow. The first player to score 500 points is the winner. The game was invented in 1971 by a Reading, Ohio, barber who enjoyed playing Crazy Eights with his son. The family enjoyed the new variation on Eights so much, they saved up $8,000 and had 5,000 copies of the game manufactured, selling them out of the barbershop. The game gained in popularity, and in 1981 Robbins sold the rights to the game for $50,000, plus royalties of 10 cents per game.

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“Buy me some peanuts and Cracker Jack,” goes the old favorite song. How much do you know about this popular snack? Follow along as Tidbits focuses on Cracker Jacks, something we‟ve been munching since 1896, perhaps the first “junk food!” • It all started with a popcorn stand in Chicago operated by a German immigrant named Fritz Rueckheim. Fritz had been selling popcorn for 25 years before his brother Louis invented a method of separating the kernels of molasses-coated popcorn, which previously stuck together in sticky clumps during manufacturing. The brothers then added peanuts to the mix. • The product was named Cracker Jack after a salesman sampled it and proclaimed, “That‟s crackerjack!”, a phrase that, at that time meant “exceptionally fine” or “of excellent quality.” The name was registered as a trademark, and “The More You Eat, the More You Want” became its sales pitch. • A waxed, sealed package was created in 1899 by Henry Eckstein, further enhancing the sales of Cracker Jacks. Sales took a giant leap in 1908 when composers Jack Norworth and Albert Von Tilzer released the hit song “Take Me Out to the Ball Game.” Ironically neither of the two had ever “root, root, rooted for the home team,” having never attended a ball game. • In 1912, the company began adding small prizes to each box, outdoing their competition who only enclosed coupons in packages that had to be redeemed by mail. In keeping with their baseball popularity, prizes in 1914 included a set of 144 baseball cards, and a 176-card set in 1915. Each card measured 2 ¼” x 3” (5.7 x 7.6 cm) and included such baseball greats as Honus Wagner, Ty Cobb, “Shoeless” Joe Jackson, Christy Mathewson, and Charles Comiskey. (continued page 7)

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"Be known before you're needed" advertise with Tidbits© (304) 210-3812 Page 5 Why donate plasma?

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"Be known before you're needed" advertise with Tidbits© (304) 210-3812 Page 7

CRACKER JACKS (continued): • Collectors who happen to have a Cracker Jack Ty Cobb card in mint condition claim its worth at over $4,400, while a Joe Jackson card in mint condition might fetch twice that much. The Cracker Jack card series are the only ones to feature players from baseball‟s short-lived Federal League. • Other early prizes included decoder rings, plastic figurines, booklets, stickers, and temporary tattoos. • In 1916, the package had a new feature, two mascots, Sailor Jack and his dog Bingo. Fritz Rueckheim modeled Jack after his grandson, who passed away shortly afterward at age 8. Fritz loved the image so much that he had it carved on his tombstone. Bingo was based on a stray dog, whose real name was Russell. • Cracker Jacks were first advertised on television in 1955, sponsoring the CBS game show “On Your Account.” Ads appeared over the years until 1984, when they were discontinued. The 1999 Super Bowl featured a brand-new ad for Cracker Jacks, the first in 15 years. • In 2004, the New York Yankees tried replacing Cracker Jacks with the toffee-flavored snack Crunch „n Munch at home games. This action was quickly rescinded after a huge protest by fans. • Frito-Lay has owned Cracker Jack since 1997. In 2016, the company announced that the packages would no longer contain prizes. In an attempt to keep up with the times, the package now features a code good for a download to play games on the Cracker Jack app through Google Play.

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Pets and Neighbors: Don't Get Personal --DEAR PAW'S CORNER: I'm in charge of writing the monthly newsletter for our neighborhood association. This month, I want to publish a warning to one of the homeowners who regularly lets their dogs run off leash and into the streets. However, the head of the association made me take out the article ahead of publication. Why? It's a safety issue. -- Concerned HOA officer in Georgia DEAR CONCERNED: While you're right about letting dogs run loose in the street being a safety issue, calling the offender out by name in the neighborhood newsletter is not the way to go. It sounds like the head of the association didn't explain all the reasons why it's a bad idea. For one thing, singling out a neighbor by name -- even if that person is the only one letting their dogs run off leash -- can have legal ramifications for the association. That can get expensive. Even if things don't get that heated, that neighbor probably knows that you write the newsletter, and you could become the target of their ire. Talk to the association head face-to-face or by email and ask what can be done to address this issue. Chances are, the neighbor has already been notified by the association. Another option is for the association head or the directors to remind everyone at the regular meeting, without singling anyone out. Or, a notice can be put in the newsletter that also does not single out any residents -- one that reminds everyone of the association rules or any relevant city ordinances. I know you want to act more quickly, but you're working as part of a group of neighbors. So work with them to address this problem. Send your questions, tips or comments to ask@pawscorner.com. (c) 2018 King Features Syndicate, Inc.

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TidbitsMOV Issue#932  

Tidbits of the Mid-Ohio Valley Issue #932 April 17, 2018

TidbitsMOV Issue#932  

Tidbits of the Mid-Ohio Valley Issue #932 April 17, 2018