I’ve suffered a serious bout of spring fever this week, and the only thing to cure what’s ailing me is a game of washers.
I was eight when we moved to St. Louis. That summer, we attended a small family gathering with some of my father’s cousins. Jerry had a washers set: a soup can nailed inside a wooden box lined with electric green astroturf. A set of brass and nickel washers set the teams apart. Everyone drank Budweiser. I drank Vess.
Missouri Washer Works explains the game’s rules:
The game can be played with two or more players, as long as the teams are even.
Boxes are placed 20 feet apart on a flat and level surface.
Players must stand behind the front edge of the box,
and toss each of his or her three washers (usually underhanded)
toward the opposite box. The next player then does the same.
The highest score wins the round.
Points are awarded as follows:
1 point for a washer that lands in the box
3 points for a washer that lands in the cup (a “cupper”)
Opposing washers in the box (or in the cup) cancel each other out.
Continue rounds until one player reaches 21 points.
In St. Louis, it’s as common to find a summer barbeque with a washer competition as it is to find a cooler full of Bud Light tallboys.
If you’re feeling handy, build your own. Otherwise, buy one built in The Gateway City from Missouri Washer Works; while you’re at it, pick up some custom washers, c/o WasherPit. I’m happy to take on challengers far and wide. I’ll bring the gear. You bring your game face.