Walter Schlitz and the Curious Case of the Collingswood Card Game Controversy
The most recent subject 'I Am Collingswood' is a cribbage fan—not canasta, as initially reported—but our story helped him discover a relative in town.
He set me straight in an email about a week after the article was published.
“The game is CRIBBAGE not Canasta,” Schlitz wrote. “Must I now learn to play it??”
I'm not familiar with either game, so I met up with him to learn some more about the finer points of cribbage.
Schlitz produced a leather carrying case about the size of a pack of cigarettes. Within were pegs and a scoreboard that he says are used in conjunction with a deck of poker cards to play a proper game of cribbage.
“One of my buddies gave me this in the South Pacific in 1944,” Schlitz said. “He taught me how to play.”
“I don't know what canasta is,” he continued. “I was amazed when I read the article, I said, 'Now where did she get canasta?'”
My mistake was compounded by the fact that a number of Patch readers perked up at mention of the game, offering to join in.
Among them was Dig This owner Reed Orem, who's a Camden City native like Schlitz.
"Tell Walter if he wants to call or stop by, I play a lot of cards and would love to learn Canasta if he wants someone to play with," Orem wrote. "Us Camden guys have to stick together."
The error ended up being a happy accident, as it turns out that the two men have more in common than just their hometown.
“He's a relative of mine!” Schlitz told me. “The name Orem; right away, I knew I had relatives named Orem.”
Not only are Schlitz and Orem distant relatives, but while he was employed at Cities Service Oil on Petty's Island in Camden, Schlitz worked with Orem's grandfather, Harry.
“And his grandfather's mother was my Aunt Julie!” Schlitz said.
Although the two have not yet met in person, Orem is excited at the prospect of having a new gaming partner.
"I'm hoping that I can get him to play cards once in a while," Orem said. "I can definitely get a game built around what everybody wants to play."