From Our Friends in Saint Louis MI. 2019 07 12

Hi Stan, Yesterday I and several friends competed in the Franklin County Silver Games in Washington, Missouri.  We call it the “Twilight Zone” of shuffleboard. It was unlike anything any of us have ever experienced.

Bob Jennerjohn got to my house a little before 6:00 AM and my wife Rose and I and Bob headed off in the dark for Washington, Missouri.  One the way there we sang camp songs. Bob started out with a rousing rendition of “John Jacob Jingleheimer Smith.”  After that we did 10 choruses of “You Can’t Get To Heaven” followed by “I Knew An Old Lady Who Swallowed A Fly.”  Okay, we did none of that other than leave our house a little before 6:00 AM.

We got to the “venue” where the events were held a little before 7:00 AM.  We went in and sat at a table for a few moments. Shortly after that we all went into the gym and checked in for the Shuffleboard event and then went back out to the cafe area where the goodie bags were situated.  Each bag had a t-shirt, Walgreen’s whistle/flashlight, discount coupons to Shroeder’s Drug Store, a pen from Shroder’s Drug Store, a Franklin County Silver Games commemorative pin, and that’s all I can remember.  I went into the men’s room and promptly jammed the automatic towel dispenser causing all of the men to use their pants to dry their hands for the rest of the day.

We returned to the gym where the shuffleboard courts were painted on the floor.  “Chuck” the head shuffleboard honcho sprinkled fairy dust over each court and they were fast.  Not Perryville, Missouri slick as ice fast,  but a lot faster than our indoor courts.  Then Chuck went over the “rules.”

Our club president Glen Van Matre and several others had warned me that Franklin County runs their shuffleboard in a “unique” fashion.  Dennis Squires compared it to the game “Go Fish.” However, when Chuck explained the rules briefly, nothing he stated was anything different than what we’re all used to when we play.  Yellow starts, black alternates.  You must land the disk over the 2nd line.  To score a point you can’t touch any lines.  If you’re in the kitchen it’s minus 10.  Then he said, “I guess that’s about it.”  Then he announced who would play whom.

Bob and I were assigned to play against each other.  At the time I was a bit miffed about that – he’s my partner.  (Later I would discover this could have worked to our advantage).  Suddenly, Rod Serling stepped out from the corner of the gym and his theme song began to play as he said,  “You’re traveling to another dimension.  A dimension not only of sight and sound, but of mind.  A journey into a wondrous land whose boundaries are that of imagination. Your next stop, “The Franklin County Silver Games.” (dramatic finish to theme song).

For starters, Chuck decides who has yellow disks and goes first – “WE DON’T NEED NO STINKIN’ LAG!”   (Did you remember to bribe him before the game?) Next, we discovered that the game was only 4 frames long!  It takes me that long just to start figuring out a court.

Not realizing we were truly in Superman’s Bizzaro World, Bob and I played as we normally do.  When one of us scored a point, we’d knock it off.  Our score see-sawed a little until I put myself in the kitchen.  Then Bob unintentionally knocked me out of the kitchen and that enabled me to beat him.  I felt bad about beating my buddy, but was ready to take on my next opponent.  “Not so fast Shorty.”  As Mr. Serling took a deep drag on his cigarette and the closing music came up, I found out when you’re in the Franklin County Twilight Zone, YOU ONLY PLAY ONE GAME – WIN OR LOSE!

The winner is the person among everyone in your age category who scores the most points – not who beat who.  In theory if Bob and I left each other’s disks that scored points on the court, one of us could have come in FIRST and the other, who lost, come in SECOND – which I think is what Glen told me he and Dennis did last year.  Forget what you know about winners and losers, y’all’s in Franklin County son!  

I won my game but because Bob is a good defensive player, I only had 15 points in 4 frames and didn’t even place.  We checked later and I think they said the winner had 70 points.  You know they had to be playing someone who knew how to “game the system” as I described.

I needed some air.  I needed to get away from Serling’s cigarette smoke.  I sought refuge by returning to the men’s room, using it, and then washing my hands and drying them on my pants. It was a welcome distraction.

When I returned to the gym I went to the official’s table and asked if the doubles event was run the way the singles was with just the one game played and the winner being the highest scoring team.  The woman seated at the table assured me, “Oh no, doubles is played the regular way with play-offs among the winners.”

I quickly called my bookie to place all my money on Bob and myself.  If we were playing more than one game I was willing to bet my money we’d win.

As I began to get myself into my psychological “happy place” where I can zone out into competitive overdrive and also nosh on mental corn beef sandwiches, I spotted someone in the far corner of the gym.  It was Serling again, trying to bum a cigarette off an older woman with a babuska on her head.  What the hell was he doing back here? I was told “doubles was played the regular way.”

Bob and I were pitted against two men we had never met before.  Oddly, the better player was a guy with a walker.  But they were no match for us.  We easily beat them and were ready to take on our next competitors.  Not so fast your royal baldness – they were only kidding.   The doubles was run just like the singles. You play one game and the winners are the team that score the most points!  (Is it too late to call my bookie back?).  FOILED AGAIN!

Well, I heard the Twilight Zone music again and when I turned I choked on a big cloud of smoke that Rod Serling blew into my face as he smugly closed with, “Submitted for your approval, one irate Stu Cassell, a man who mistakenly thought he was competing in a normal seniors competition, only to discover after tripping over his cue he had stumbled into “The Franklin County Twilight Zone.” (Cue the end theme song).  Dee-dee dee dee, dee-dee, dee-dee….

I can’t speak for Bob but I had been warned about the Franklin County Silver Games.  Consequently, my expectations were low, very very low.  For my $15 entry fee all I expected was a new Tee-shirt and lunch.  Hey, I got both so in that regard my expectations were met.

We didn’t win any medals but we did have lots of laughs yesterday.

Posted by Stan McCormack on 2017 09 12.


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