Racked pool sticks lined up against the stone wall. Chalk, balls, all the stuff of the game sat in the tray below. The big table took up the space in the basement where once there was a ping pong table.
Wait a minute! What am I saying!? It was not just a ping pong table. It was so much more. Mom laid the pattern on top of the fabric. A piece of small print cloth that would more than likely end up as bib, apron or possibly a dress; however, I never remember Mom making a dress let alone any of us wearing something she made.
The large green table was the perfect size for pattern cutting. The net could remain in place, just in case a quick game of ping pong was pursued during the sewing process.
Patterns were cut and, occasionally, a meal shared with the guests who came for a fun time at the Loxley house. It was a time when weddings were simply held in churches, and the family home became the center for rehearsal dinner and the activity center for a simple country wedding. The ping pong table was a necessity, becoming the table where the many guests who came to visit shared a meal and perfect for the rehearsal dinner.
Gifts were then displayed in the home, in case someone wanted to peek at what the newlyweds would have to "set up housekeeping." Once more, the green top of the table became the background for the precious gifts that often came from those who could barely afford one. Sometimes the gift was something from their own home. Yes, it held treasures. That ping pong table was especially dear to me. I never played a game on it, but my days were spent listening to my records in the back corner of the basement.
I clamped the metal roller skates onto my shoes and skated around the table grabbing a leg on each turn. The music, the skates, the table. The memories. The pool table came to stay after the Loxley girls were gone from that lovely farm. Now-grown-up Loxley adults grabbed pool sticks and played a new game in the old space. The next generation did the same.
I never played pool on that table. No ping pong and no pool. Hm. Just a "backhand" of information gleaned from the pages of the "English History of Ping Pong." Some sort of ping pong or table tennis has been in existence since the 1880s first played among the upper classes in England. After dessert came a parlor game known as whiff whaff. It was played with books used for batting golf balls across the dining room table. Later, it was played with cigar box lids used as paddles and balls made from champagne corks. The best part of those days around that big, green table were the conversations with relatives and friends. It was a gathering place of pure joy, for you could not sit and eat at that ping pong table without laughing.
Whiff whaff. Game, anyone?
Pamela Loxley Drake is a Beaverton resident and self-described lifelong "farm girl."
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