If you will lend me your eyes, I'd love to explain this photo to you. It was taken in 1996 in Vienna, Austria. It was our third and final European vacation as a family of five, and we'd been go-go-going all day as we were wont to do. My brother quit his temp job to take this trip with us; I was a rising college junior, about a spend a semester in jolly old England, and my sister was a rising high school junior and likely a contestant for most astonishing femur-to-height ratio.
I think we were all ready for a break at this point in the day, and the grass of that spot under Franz Joseph's watchful eye was just too inviting. We ignored the "stay off the grass" sign and immediately pulled out our deck of cards to play another round of Böcklin, a card game we'd invented (well, mostly my brother invented) a few days before in Switzlerland.
I don't remember exactly how to play Böcklin, but I know each person was dealt seven cards, four facing in and three facing out, and we had named various plays after well-loved family characters. For instance, one could Gina Baldo (a name that caught our fancy when we once found it carved in a Texas Hill Country rest stop table), or one could Al Urbina (the mildly talented artist who painted the enormous works that decorated the walls of our favorite Mexican restaurant). But the highest honor was given to Arnold Böcklin, a Swiss man of limited but sufficient fame to have been memorialized with a bust in the hotel we stayed outside of Florence in 1990. See here:
Whatever he once held in his right hand was long gone in 1990, but it being the pre-easy-Internet-access days, we were allowed free use of our imaginations. A cigar? A stalk of asparagus? A fountain pen?
Skip forward to 1996 again (date of the card game photo), and we were driving our unairconditioned Opel Vectra into Basel, Switzlerland and reading about the attractions we might like to visit in the guidebook (remember what it was like to not have a smartphone?). Arnold Böcklin had been a family name for six years, though we still didn't know the source of his international fame.
Until, until...we read that the art museum in Basel was exhibiting the symbolist paintings of its native son, Arnold Böcklin (must've been a paintbrush)! Well, we pressed on the gas to make it into the city before the museum closed that day, and I think made it with about 15 minutes to spare. We sprinted through the museum and managed to snap this photo before we had to leave.
And the card game was named. If I had to pick one story that illustrates my family of origin, this would be an excellent one to do it. And it contains way more than ten things, doesn't it?
A Fly on our (Chicken Coop) Wall, Amycake and the Dude, Considerings, Finding Ninee, Getting Literal, I Want Backsies, Mother of Imperfection, Rewritten, Thankful Me, The Wakefield Doctrine
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