Thursday, July 18, 2013

Shotgun Games

Several people have asked where I got the break action shotgun cribbage board.  It's a story that started in 1945, a few short months after World War II ended and ended with a modern day craftsman in Wisconsin.

My parents, best friends since 6th grade and high school sweethearts, were married as soon as Dad got back from his service in the 8th Air Force in  England.  Both of them were huge cribbage players, even taking a custom made wooden board with them on their honeymoon to British Columbia.  Dad still has that board, and though his eyes mist up sometimes when he holds it, he still enjoys beating his visiting nurse and we kids at a rousing hand. 

 His mind, on some days wanders, he'll call me by my nieces name if he's tired, and he sometimes hesitates in his thoughts, just  normal aging.  But deal six cards into his hand and, at 93,  he can add up numerical combinations of 15, pairs and straights, faster than a calculator.
But outside of the occasional game at Dad's house, I never played.  Until I taught my best friend how to one snowy weekend, and the game was on.

But I wanted a board that was special, not to replace Mom and Dad's, but simply to continue the tradition.  And I found this, hand crafted from the nicest fellow I know up in Wisconsin who sells them on Etsy.

  (click for the link)

The board is made out of Maple and finished with 3 coats of Polyurethane. The pegs are hand made  1/8" brass rod shaped, polished and coated with 3 layers of lacquer. Pegs are stored where the shell would go. A magnet keeps the barrel latched up when closed, so the pieces stay secure.
John has got two of them made up and available right now if you click on his link above, as well as some other unique ones.  I've bought more than one for family or friends (including the violin one which was truly beautiful).  They were  delivered promptly and look even better than the pictures show.  It was well worth the price for something hand crafted that will last more than one generation.  John also followed up to make sure I got the order, and was happy with it, a personal touch often lacking in most commercial transactions.

We've played a hundred games on it already and I am still amazed by how beautiful it is, in form and function, how well the pieces fit and how much fun it is.

Even when I get beavered skunked.


  1. Never did learn to play cribbage, though I think my folks knew how. I do not remember ever seeing them play it. Perhaps they played BK (before kids)...

    Nice looking boards for it though!

  2. I learned cribbage at Boy Scout camp in the '60's when I was about 10. It was all the rage with the staff. I haven't played in years. I should see if I can find my Dad's old board and bring it to camp this coming week. It's great on a rainy day under a tarp.

  3. We used to play cribbage nearly every evening in the summertime at the mountain cowcamp. Always fun. I still have a couple old boards with matches for pegs.

  4. Played on the ship during the long cruises. We played 4 handed cribbage for money. Wild game. I can barely remember how to play anymore, but I still have my Dad's great old board.

  5. I loved cribbage, my dad taught me also. As to getting 'beavered', actually what happens to the Beavs every fall is they get 'Ducked'.

    UO '72

  6. That is PURTY! Soon as I get back i'll try to track one down...

  7. My dad has a board that his dad carried with him in the Navy in both the Atlantic and Pacific during WW2. My dad had it with him during his turn in the Navy during Vietnam, and I had it with me in the Persian Gulf during the Gulf War.


  8. Vic - I wished I'd played more when I was growing up. Mostly we watched the folks play while we did assault dominoes. :-)

    RonF - I hope you can find it.

    Brigihid - matches. Brilliant!

    Dick - when I taught my friend to play I had to look up some of the rules, Dad often just walking me through it if I'd not played in some months. It's not hard, and it comes back quickly.

    Shouldfishmore: none of my family or friends went there (the t-shirt was an airport gift, a long standing tradition from which I have an assortment of funny or tacky things from Dubai to China). I SO know what you are talking about though. :-)

    Old NFO - they've been a ton of fun, and money very well spent.

    Chad - I'm so glad you all have that tradition. Thank you for the comment. Cheers!


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