Fun and games

By Sandra L. Brown

April 20, 2017 12:00 AM

Folks did more than just work hard in the early days; they knew how to have homemade fun too in their spare time. 
This eventually became known as leisure time and was used to enhance life in general on the prairies. 
With each technological advancement leisure time increased allowing for the enjoyment of more family and community activities. 
Parlour games such as Musical Chairs, Drop the Handkerchief, Spin the Platter, Post Office and Blind Man’s Bluff were played. 
A team would silently act out a word, phrase, song title, book or person while players on the other team would guess the answer in a rousing game of silent charades. 
Jigsaw puzzles became popular during the depression years, perhaps offering a break from troubling times.
Ever wonder how this name came to be? 
Despite the fact that originally a fretsaw was the tool of choice, the first wooden puzzles became known as jigsaws (1880) when this tool was used. 
Interestingly, the original puzzles did not interlock nor did they have multicolor transition pieces. 
This meant if folks so much as sneezed, the entire puzzle would easily fall apart. 
Originally used as an educational tool, puzzles changed into more of a recreational pastime. 
Let’s face it; we all feel a sense of accomplishment when the last puzzle piece falls into place along with the thrill of seeing the completed scene.
This became even more evident as the original adult puzzles did not have a picture on the box cover for reference. 
A challenging game of checkers could often be found in progress in a corner of Jack Boyd’s barbershop.
Games of hockey, ball, curling, etc. were good-naturedly replayed and various alibis for losing were shared at the barbershop which also served as a social news and gossip hub.
Card games, thought by some to be of the devil’s hand, were common.
Folks had a very relaxing social evening when cards and a dance were combined. 
In the early days, whist was most popular as were cribbage and solitaire. 
Bridge soon became the card game of choice and tournaments were held with neighboring towns. 
For those so inclined to gamble, poker became all the rage.
The hula hoop craze with the round hoop twirling around ones waist was popular for children and adults. 
Contests to see how long the hoop could be kept twirling were enthusiastically held. 
Precursors to modern day social community events such as the ever popular fall suppers were the well-attended box or pie socials.
They were a form of entertainment for everyone especially with the young bachelors determined to win the highest bid. 
The enterprising auctioneer would often play one poor fellow against another in order to raise the price or “was bribed to give a bidder the nod when a certain young lady’s box came up for sale.”
Hours went into decorating these shoeboxes to transform them. 
Ladies modestly competed to bake the most enticing pie tantalizing the appetites of those present. 
Delicious berries were picked from their own land and baked into each homemade pie.
For the honour of best speller, students from the area one-room schools would compete in spelling bees. 
The students stood and spelled out the words given to each of them by the teacher. 
If the spelling was correct, they remained standing. 
If the word was incorrect they had to sit down, their hopes of the treasured award so easily shattered by a misplaced vowel or missed silent “P” at the word’s beginning.
Though short lived, Lloydminster’s first roller rink opened in 1930. 
The 30-ft fir floor was installed across the south end of the arena.  Saturday night dances were well attended during the summer months.
A private Lawn Bowling Club which lasted only a few years formed in 1933. 
Competing in Vermilion they won a coveted trophy in 1937.
The first Recreation Board was established in 1961 with the people as the “doers” and the board acting as the “enabler.” 
In many indefinable respects, leisure time acts as a balm in our busy lives. 
It slows us down, giving our community a collective and calming deep breath. 
We all need to recharge at some point and just have fun.

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