Settlement to Showcase Games of the 19th Century

Article excerpt

Byline: Tammy Swanson Daily Herald Correspondent

Even if your backyard croquet matches degenerate into a rowdy game of horseless polo, you've got nothing on the early games in Boston Common.

Turns out, the pastoral game has a secret wild past.

Games on the common were accompanied by debauchery that local preachers just couldn't allow.

"Croquet suffered a setback in the 1890s when the Boston clergy spoke out about drinking and gambling behavior that was associated with it," said Cindy Lackore, museum educator at Naper Settlement.

"You don't think of croquet as being something that would entice people to drink and gamble. I thought that was kind of funny."

The secrets and the history of croquet, as well as of town ball and sack races, will be highlighted this weekend at Naper Settlement as the museum village explores "Games People Play." Events run 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday at the museum, 523 S. Webster St., Naperville.

Visitors will be invited to take part in more refined games of croquet, in sack races and in games of town ball, which was a stepping stone to modern baseball. All were popular in the 19th century, Lackore said.

"It's fun to relax and think about what they used to do," she said. "People are still doing it to relax and have fun on a summer afternoon. …