World’s Largest Cribbage Board & “Karma Comin’ Around”

Mike outside a Dicehouse with the pegs

In “Weekend of Good Karma,”, Cribbageland experienced about 36 hours of Overwhelming Awesomeness coupled with Unbridled Generosity, and the post was written before much of it had been processed. Yes, The Green Mile quote Friday night was curious; the Bowie-thon was grand. But what I was able to post in short order on Sunday only scratched the surface of my afternoon with Mike Haeg, Mayor of Mt. Holly and creator of the World’s Largest Cribbage Board. I’ve had some time to listen to the entire interview, and the project was much larger than I was able to relate, and remains much larger than what I can post here. If you’re still interested, though, read on for some fun excerpts.

What the tape revealed was fascinating, and almost like experiencing the interview for the first time. During the afternoon, the distant whistles of commercial freight trains floated through Mt. Holly as they lumbered to and fro. The reluctant creak of our chairs was a sharp contrast to the shrill cry of the cuckoo darting from the wall clock. These and more were lost on me while there; I couldn’t even count my hands correctly (much less in order), so Twin City Pegger readers shouldn’t be surprised. “There’s only two types of people in the world,” Mike declared during our first game, “those who love cribbage and those who don’t know how to play.”

Bingo. That’s what this is all about, I suppose.

In the spirit of the Art Shanty projects, Mike realized, “If you can drill holes in the ice, you can make a cribbage board.” So that’s what he did, along with a little help from his friends and family. “I was surprised how many people found it, you know what I mean? Found cribbage. Four guys showed up in blaze hunting gear specifically to play cribbage, they weren’t interested in the artists or anything else on the ice. Just cribbage. That’s it.”

"East Coast, fishes!" (Used with permission)

“Anything else” was quite a bit. There was a library house, a paper house, an art house, and more. Some were solar-powered; others had bike-driven generators. There were games and running tracks and music; there was coffee and bartering and a late-night gathering to listen to the only known recording of Shackleton’s doomed Antarctic adventure. Mike evan caught a pike from his house while listening to Big Pun, citing “East Coast, Fishes!”

One of the best parts I heard about was the new economic system on the ice. You didn’t play for money; who needs money on the ice? “We developed our own economy,” he laughed, “instead of dollars, there were Teeth. Our monetary unit was the Tooth, and a Tooth was comprised of 20 pips, and 100 Teeth gets you a Really Nice Hat.” So as they played cribbage and other games, anyone interested in a Really Nice Hat kept track of how many pips they were winning or losing by and how those pips converted to Teeth. Foolishly I failed to snag a picture of a Really Nice Hat, but the Mayor donned his first Really Nice Hat and his plucky daughter Autumn, in a Herculean effort to avoid cleaning her room, donned hers. The hats were peppered with custom dIcehouse buttons and other slapdash tatterdemalion-esque baubles of knittery and craft. “And that was the top of our economy, because once you have a Really Nice Hat, you don’t need anything else! …so I had to print out Teeth and I had to bring Teeth and I still have Teeth laying around some place.”

“So who provided the hats?”

“I did, I knit them, I knit the currency. I was lucky, I didn’t need any Teeth to get one.” Very cool. Considering the economy the past couple years, Really Nice Hats might be the way to go.

Autumn's Poster (used with permission)

As a designer and all around creative soul, Mike’s house is literally scored with custom projects and DIY gadgets and art; hanging in the bedroom is the dIcehouse silkscreen poster and board game he created. It must run in the family–peering shyly around a door jamb, the first thing Autumn showed me (using a masticating tyrannosaurus head atop a long thin plunger with a plastic trigger) was her Crystal Explosions science kit, one of several projects from a prepubescent entrepreneur who formed an LLC and sells them in the general market. When I asked her “was it fun to be out on the ice?” she stopped twirling, looked me directly in the eye, and exclaimed, “YES!” “Most stylish future scientist,” Mike smirked.

Near the end of the interview, Mike was struck by Karma too. He encouraged Autumn to get that room cleaned so they could play some games later with his wife Tammy; he had to spend some time with Uncle Jerry. “That’s karma comin’ round,” he said. “What is?” “Jerry helped us load and transport the dIcehouses. Two years later it’s my turn to help him with a project.”

Before I left, however, we had to take a few more photos. We trudged across the crusty back country of Mt. Holly to the dIcehouse and the pegs. This one was solar-powered, strung with lights, adorned with the poster and other knick-knacks, and featured a fishing spinner, table, and benches. “If people spent more time making their lives interesting, and the lives of the people around them interesting, the world would be a better place. That’s what we’re all about here [at Mt. Holly]…it’s a lot easier having people coming to you for what you’re doing then it is to be going around knocking on doors, and the only way they’ll come to you is if you like what you’re doing and you’re doing something interesting. Spend your time and energy doing that.

Thus spake Mike Haeg, Mayor of Mt. Holly, creator of The World’s Largest Cribbage Board.

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