August 19, 2013
Back in 1939 to 1941 we lived in DePere, Wisconsin. Mom and Dad, for fun, played a card game called “Sheepshead” or “Schafskopf” almost every Friday evening with two other couples in our small apartment building (5 various sized apartments) located above Mr VanGimert’s tombstone/monument making company. Sheepshead often was played in the many small taverns in town, over a dozen in a two block area. Farmers would come in town every weekend to play and drink beer. They were sort of like the poker halls in other American towns.
Sometimes after moving back to Indiana, Dad’s Wisconsin brothers would visit and play this popular card game, so I was taught how to play it as a teenager….since sometimes they needed another player. It really is a very complex and difficult game with lots of strategy….harder than Contract Bridge in many ways. After so many years, I’d forgotten how to play it so googled it to read the rules again. Yes it is extremely complicated….one of the things about it I had remembered!
They say some Wisconsin farmers would gamble their livestock or even the farm away when playing this game! I remember some of the terms: picker, the blind, the fail cards, schmearing, and going for “least”, etc. Outside of Wisconsin, not many people have even heard of this fascinating….and often addicting game!