A Minnesota Mystery

United States National Cribbage Doubles Champions, 1941

A few weeks ago I made a trip to the Minnesota Historical Society for an evening of 15-2 research. I had no idea what I’d find,  except I anticipated that somewhere in the past 100 years of history in the land of 10,000 lakes cribbage would be mentioned/highlighted/featured in local newspapers and other media. I wasn’t disappointed. 

What a pair of jaunty fellows! The back of the photo tell us everything we need to know. The gentleman on the left in the 3-piece suit with a cigar dangling from his fingers is Morris Hursh of St. Paul; the taller gentleman on the right, sporting a schoolboy grin and a corncob pipe, is Fred Greenwald of St. Cloud. If I looked that good after winning something, I’d be smiling too. The trophy reads “United States National Cribbage Doubles Championship.” So here’s my question:

If the ACC (American Cribbage Congress) wasn’t formed until about 1980, was there already a national league of organized competition? I haven’t come across one in any of my research. But the plot thickens: after the Star Tribune article was published on November 27, I received an email from one Bruce W., an expatriate of St. Paul now residing in California. He sent a few photos, and writes:

Mr. Basil's Board - Laurel Avenue, St. Paul, MN, ~1930

This board was made by a Mr. Basil in the 700 block of Laurel Ave in the 30s and given to my dad. This is the board I learned on. The medal was my dad’s, 1942 city champion, The Cribbage Club of St Paul Inc.

Hmm. Indeed. A Twin City mystery and a handsome medal. When I met Peter Leach, he showed me another board made by an artist on Laurel Avenue; was it Mr. Basil? Who was Mr. Basil? What happened to the St. Paul Cribbage Club?

The Minnesota Historical Society photo is from 1941; this medal is dated 1942. I know Laurel Avenue well; there are several apartment buildings built well before that time. Maybe it’s worth a trip to the management company to check old files?

"The Cribbage Club of St. Paul Inc. - 1942"

Elementary, my dear cribbage players. If anyone can contribute more clues, questions, quotes, or quips, maybe we’ll get to the bottom of this conundrum. The game is afoot!

"City Champions - D.H.W. - MPLS"


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