Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Remember When . . . Croquet Was the Game of the Day?

This past Saturday saw me in Annapolis, back on the campus of my alma mater, St. John's College. The last time I was in this beautiful Chesapeake town was to play sight-seer to research Love Finds You in Annapolis, Maryland, which I was still writing back in December. It was pretty fun to be there again, knowing the book is only a few months from reality.

We came back for the annual croquet tournament between St. John's and the Naval Academy. The what, you say? Yeah, that's right. Croquet. Big deal. Fun stuff. ;-)

Here's how the tradition got started. Annapolis has long been a college town, home to two very different schools. St. John's is liberal arts, small, and very academic . . . but also prone to hippies and free spirits who sit down right beside the New Englander in the three-piece suit. Contrasted with that is the Naval Academy, which is strict, huge, and gives equal billing to physical things as academic. So naturally, we're rivals. Friendly rivals, kinda like a giant might be theoretically a rival with a pygmy of a cousin, LOL. But back in 1983, apparently some Johnnies and some Middies (Midshipmen) were at a pub downtown and got into a tiff about how Johnnies had no athletic prowess. The Middie said, "We can beat you at any sport, any day of the week. Just name one." And the Johnnie said, "Okay. Croquet. Last Saturday in April."

Now, neither group actually knew how to play croquet at that point, but both quickly learned, and the Annapolis Cup was born. For the last 28 years the two teams have been meeting on the front campus of St. John's on the last Saturday in April, and this event has grown so huge that the campus is literally packed, wall to wall, with people. Some Johnnies, some Middies, some Townies (Annapolitans), and a whole lot of alumni from both. And St. John's has won all but 2 or 3 of those years. (OH YEAH!)

It was so cool this year. We spread our blanket right where the Liberty Tree used to tower, and I thought, "Wow, it was still here when Lark would have been here. Though the only building here was McDowell Hall, right there. And of course, St. John's didn't exist yet, it was still King William's School. Where Emerson and Wiley had attended. And the Naval Academy was still 50 years away . . ."

Yeah, I had a lot of fun thinking of my story while watching the event. There were hats there to rival those at the royal wedding (slight exaggeration, but only slight--note in the picture that even Xoe has an adorable pink hat on!), people love to dress in turn-of-the-century attire, everyone brings a champagne picnic, and it just feels so . . . nostalgic. Nothing beats it.

Croquet . . . who knew? LOL.


  1. Wow croquet huh? I haven't played that in a while. My grandpa's a fan but he's in FL now so not much croquet playin' going on here. :-P

    XOXO~ Renee

  2. How fun! What a fantastic event for the community.