Yahtzee meets Craps

January 13, 2007

There’s an awful lot to be said for sitting around a table playing games. Over the holidays Willi and I had the occasion to play some games with his mom and children. It was great fun, but more importantly it bridged the gap between the generations, and also the miles that keep us apart for most of the year. Talk became easy and meaningful, and family ties were strengthened once again.

Willi’s mom brought a cool game with her from Texas and we all learned how to play. You may have played it yourself. It’s called Farkle and has been described as a cross between Yahtzee and Craps. There are as many sets of rules as there are stories of the game’s origin. The most interesting story I have found was that it began with the Farkleberry Tree. Yep, there really is such a thing. Supposedly early settlers coming to Texas carved hardened berries from the Farkleberry Tree into dice, thus the name of the game. You need six dice, paper and a pencil to keep score. As many can play as can fit around the table, or you can play with teams. Here are some rules to get you started, but if you Google the game you will find many variations.

Although table games were not a big part of my growing up, Willi shares tales about learning to count by playing Dominoes with his grandad. The more memorable part was the banter between a boy and his grandfather as they drew playing pieces from “the boneyard”. Back in the day, I learned some pretty important life lessons playing outside with my friends. In a day and age where technology tends to encourage a somewhat solitary existence, it feels good just to turn everything off, throw some dice, and visit.


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4. If, growing up, I had any trouble with my dad, it was in this area: I honestly don’t ever remember having trouble with my dad except for one time when I was in junior high. My mom and dad were both working by then, leaving me home alone until they got in. Of course the rule was that there were no boys allowed. None. Not even on the front porch. Zip, zilch, zero. How silly was that rule? So, whilst baking cookies one afternoon in the kitchen, I visited with my friend Dale as he sat at the kitchen table. To help you visualize the predicament we found ourselves in; the kitchen, dining room, living room and hallway are laid out in a circle with a wall in the middle. You can walk from the kitchen to the dining room, then through the living room and hall, right back around into the kitchen. I thought I had the timing pretty well down, but alas my dad got home earlier than expected. He came up the stairs into the hall just quick enough to see Dale step into the dining room. It looked like a scene from a Marx Brothers movie! As he headed for the dining room, Dale came back around the other way and headed down the stairs and out the door. You know my dad never said a word to me. And I never had a boy in the house again without permission. He was so disappointed in me, but not as much as I was in myself.

As a side note, Dale gave me my very first kiss. It happened when we were ice skating on the creek behind the house. We were just kids and it was just a sweet little peck. I will have to post sometime about Dale and the neighborhood kids. What a lot of fun we had growing up.

13 Responses to “Yahtzee meets Craps”

  1. mjd Says:

    Okay, I confess that I checked to see if a Farkleberry tree was a real tree. Thank you for the informative link. I guess my childhood was a blend of board and card games as well as outside games. I remember my sisters taught me to play Go Fish at age three, and our summer evenings were filled with Red Light, Green Light and all kinds of tag. But most memorable was playing Bloody Murder after the sun set.

    Hmmm, I know a Dale. Did your Dale used to have hair?

  2. Ch3ll3 Says:

    Farkle, huh? Sounds like fun. I’ll have to Google the rules and take ’em over to my mom and dad’s place. We weren’t much into playing games when I was growing up but, over the years, we’ve gotten more into it. As you said, I think it’s because it’s a wonderful way to visit. Our latest game has been “Chicken Foot” which is played with a special set of coloured dominoes.

    My all-time fave game, though, is Eucre. (that’s yoo-ker for those unfamiliar) It’s a card game with trump that originated from the military (mostly navy) and is very prevalant in the eastern states and provinces. My ex-boyfriend’s family taught me how to play and I’ve loved it ever since.

  3. Anonymous Says:

    Walt Wilkins will be in Beaumont this month. I’m going to try to catch him this time.

    I love playing board games and I loved your story about the boy in your house. We were 4 siblings in hour house (3 girls and 1 boy) so we had every kind of kid in our house at all times. Nobody was ever alone…dang it.

  4. willi Says:

    Ah yes farkle. It does stimulate the conversation, as does dominos which Mary seems to love. Willie Nelson does too, especially in West.

    Dominos and table games play a big role in my family. We also played poker, a game I learned early in life. I do not play much now because of those early life exeriences -my grandparents only played draw, five card or seven card stud. The other poker games were for kids.

    Ch3ll3: My mom plays chicken foot and I have some. I have also played Eucre,but don’t remember how. It is a popular game. The game that I learned from the midwest (while in Bolivia) that gawilli and I play is cribbage.

    Whatever the game, in the words of JW who taught me my math facts while playing dominos, “play damn it!”

  5. Anonymous Says:

    I grew up playing both indoor and outdoor games. I especially remember playing Uncle Wiggly with my granny. My nieces and I play Yahtzee almost every time they visit me. I will have to check out Farkle.

  6. daddy d Says:

    Toys are for me. Material toys. The X-Box stuff are not my kind of toy. The joy of doing something with something is fun for me. But time does move on and others today do it different.

  7. Anonymous Says:

    I love playing games. Whenever we go to visit my sister we always get out the board games at least one night. It always ends up with all of us laughing so hard.

  8. debi Says:

    As always I agree with daddy d. A wise man indeed. As kids we came inside to eat and sleep. Okay,to watch ‘Lassie” and My Friend Flicka”. My daughter has had to show her kids how to play pretend. Make forts,dig for treasure ect.They love it and find it amazing. Mommy is a genius. Kids now a days sit and veg in front of the TV or Game Boy. I tried all evening to get someone to play tri-ominos or scrabble with me. Maybe I just need to invest in some new games. Farkle? Wasn’t there a skit on ‘Laugh In” called The Farkle Family?

  9. susan Says:

    I have no patience for board games or card…I never have. It drives my poor husband nuts because he loves them so…that’s why I gave him childen!

    Speaking of which, I love the way your dad handled the Boy in the House! I’ll have to remember that.

  10. graymama Says:

    My gramms taught me how to play canasta, and my great uncle taught me how to play gin rummy. I love all of the basic card games! Hubby and I used to hang out with friends in Minneapolis and play dominoes for hours. I am going to start up a monthly card night with my mama friends. Once a month gramms used to have what she called “club night.” She would make a small hand made item for each attendee and one large hand made item for the winner. The ladies would each bring a snack item, and they would play all night long. I had the chance to attend 3 club nights before gramms passed, and I had a blast at every one 🙂

    My first kiss was with my first boyfriend. I was trying to get the VCR to work, when he turned me around and planted one on me. It was so romantic to hear QVC selling stuffed panda bears in the background 😛

  11. Tink Says:

    I want REAL Farkleberry dice :D. After you got done playing, you could just eat the dice.

  12. Maya's Granny Says:

    My childhood was full of board games, played when the weather was unfit for playing outdoors or after dark. Also cards. I taught my kids counting and addition playing Sorry, and then I got Yahtzee dice, and they had to subtract, multiply or divide depending on the color of the larger number they threw. They got very good very fast.

  13. Aris Says:

    You can download my verion of Yahtzee (free) from my blog (link below).
    I call it Aris Yamb 2.0
    Give it a try if you like (virus free), thanks.

    P.S. the blog is in greek, BUT the game is in english.

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