Categorized | Opinion

Just a way for country folks to enjoy their Sunday afternoons

By Otis GriffinOtis Griffin pose

When you are real little, you know about the size of a speck on a gnat’s left ear, you think you can do things the big boys can do.  If you remember, the big boys wouldn’t let us near them as they’d swat us back like a white face bull kicking a wooden fence.  We’d keep our distance to see what they were doing and of course, copy them.  Sometimes good, maybe sometimes bad.
I remember when we would have company on Sunday afternoons.   All you could eat and the grown ups would gather under the big shade trees in the front yard to talk and visit.  They were not allowed to talk bad about anyone ’cause that was against the Southern Baptist religion.  Everyone had just been to church so they just talked, but gave their own personal opinions.  You know just about the same way it is done today.  No….repeating….gossip.  No sirrrreeee! Not allowed to repeat.  I’m just tell it one time, and you’d better listen straight up…..and pay attention.
After a little visiting, the men would shuffle around and indulge in their favorite games of horseshoes and washers.  I guess if you mention washers to some youngsters today, the only thing they think of is an automatic dishwasher which they probably don’t even know how to load, or possibly a clothes washer at the famous laundry mat.
The men really enjoyed their time of competition in the shady backyard playing washers.  Our Mommas would get their chairs over to the side, keep talking, but keenly observe.  If no one has ever played washers or possibly been under the smokehouse for the last hundred years, I’ll try to enlighten you.  First of all, you can’t play on a computer and it doesn’t allow you to use a cell walk around phone, so this eliminates about ninety-per cent of the population.  Only country folks would understand.
Very simply, there are two men on each side just like horseshoes or Rook, called partners. The rules are real easy to remember, but they seemed to change in the middle of a game.  Neighbor, could it be the grown ups have a flashback when they were kids??  About fifteen feet apart in the baked, hard clay ground Daddy would dig two holes ‘pert nigh’ the size of a softball, normally five to six inches deep.  Just right to slide in four washers, which never occurred.
The men had to stand behind a line and pitch the washers toward the opposite hole and try to slide the washers into the hole.  This required a lot of practice, coordination and talking to the washers.  I don’t remember the washers talking back though. Some of the gentlemen would curl their forefinger around the washer or possibly flip each one trying to make it stop on a dime!!
As little tree benders, we stayed out of the way, watched and we surely didn’t say anything.  Similar to horseshoes, if the washer went clean and smooth into the hole the toss counted five points. If there was a ‘leaner’ which is half way in and half way out this toss was three points.  The two washers closest to the hole additionally got a point.  Normally, the men would play until one side reached twenty one points, but sometimes one side couldn’t count correctly!
Possibly, just one game would last for what seemed like eternity as the partners had to win by at least two points.  So when it got close, the tension mounted.  If there had been a little grass around the hole by the time the first game was over, the ground was about as smooth as a new born baby’s left cheek.  Friends, as you know the washers would dig in fiercely around the hole.
The men used the round stainless steel washers about the size of a ‘bo’ dollar.  These were shiny, heavy and expensive purchased at Mr. Harrold’s emporium in Millington.  Daddy used them only on the corner crossties for fencing with long bolts, about the length of a well rope.  I was not allowed to even touch them, much less pitch them, period!
After a game the ladies would serve homemade ice cream, cake, maybe lemonade or sweet iced tea and the men would discuss the previous games.  Since the holes were not occupied and everyone was enjoying their refreshments we tried to do a little pitching, but it was not as easy as it looked. The grownups would watch us, as they snickered and giggled, at our now not so easy task.
Neighbor, I can’t remember the last time I saw a couple of families on a Sunday afternoon just sitting around enjoying life and relaxing.  This is probably another great tradition of Southern Comfort that has passed us by.  But, we still have our wonderful memories of bygone days growing up in the illustrious South.
Hang on to yo’ Washers and We’ll Try Again in our Country South… GLORY!

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