Better Backyard Croquet III - East Egg and West Egg
by Sara Johnson · 06/03/2013
“There are only the pursued, the pursuing, the busy and the tired.” said Nick Carraway as he leaned on his croquet mallet surveying the break opportunities in front of him.
Croquet in America had a strong following in the New York area. Herbert Bayard Swope, Editor of the New York World newspaper hosted several parties out at his house on Long Island and introduced the Algonquin Roundtable literary group to the game of 9 wicket- no boundaries croquet. Swope’s home was known for its big lawns, ocean views and fancy croquet equipment from England. In 1922, F. Scott Fitzgerald moved his family to Great Neck, on Long Island. The town was an up-and-coming suburb of the Big Apple that was attracting creative professionals and new money. Across a bay sat Manhasset Neck, home to many established wealthy families. Sounds a bit like East and West Egg, doesn’t it?
Meanwhile on the West Coast Hollywood stars like Harpo Marx and movie moguls like Daryl Zanuck and Sam Goldwin were not to be outdone. A “friendly” game of croquet could cost you several hours and a considerable amount of money too. What? Gambling? I don’t believe it! And the croquet tradition continues to this day. P Diddy celebrated his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame with a round of Croquet for guests to enjoy in Hollywood Hills. A party insider said it was fabulous. Several Hollywood notables including Paris and Nicky Hilton played croquet on well-groomed lawns.
The two Ball Break
The key to making multiple wickets in one turn is setting up a break. This means using a ball several times to gain bonus shots- hit a ball, set up, go through a wicket and hit the ball again. Bob Kroeger’s magical Two Ball Break illustrates what can be done when an opponent leaves their ball in a favorable place.
Two ball breaks are a basic skill every croquet player needs to know. It is however risky business. One small error and you will miss a wicket or miss a ball. If you are using an opponent’s ball, a miss sets them up for a break of their own.
A croquet party is a great way to kick off the summer. It fits well with a mid-day barbecue or a late afternoon beginning to a dinner party. It’s a great opportunity to dress up with a nod to the 1920s styles in creams and whites. For refreshments, keep it simple. Bottled water, ice tea or lemonade, and perhaps a bottle or two of a light white or rose wine is all you need. Enjoy!
Special thanks to Kate Todd for staging the croquet party.
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