I know about curling, of course. It’s that funny Olympic sport where grown men slide an object with a handle on it down the ice and other grown men run in front of it with brooms, sweeping like crazy.
But I never knew what a ‘sheet’ was, or a ‘bonspiel’ or ‘hatspiel’ or a ‘glowspiel.’ All my new knowledge started with a chance drive along Main Street in Petersham, MA, that took me past the Petersham Curling Club, founded in 1960.
The club’s website defines it as a two-sheet curling club. This does not mean that the players are two-thirds of the way to three sheets to the wind at the end of the evening, however, as the emphasis on socializing at the club might lead one to believe.
Instead it means there are two playing surfaces, so two games can be played at the same time.
Talk of socializing leads me to the ‘spiels.’ Previous years at the Petersham club have included bonspiels, hatspiels and glowspiels. I was hard put to figure out the difference, and for the connoisseur I am sure they are obvious, but from what I could tell they all involved curling, food and drink and varying numbers of people and teams.
Poking further around the internet turned up cashspiel, funspiel and parishspiel as other curling terms. The word spiel, in the context of curling, according to one source, is a Scots word meaning competition or tournament. I guess whatever prefix one uses depends on the degree of socializing that goes on and other factors.
Some other interesting bits:
The stones are made of polished granite quarried only on Ailsa Craig, an island off the coast of Scotland.
The founders of the Petersham Curling Club “were for the most part, employees of the Union Twist Drill Company (UTD) in Athol, MA. The President of the UTD, Stanley L. Holland, was brought in to run the Athol UTD operations from a Butterfield plant in Rock Island Quebec. As a curler, Stan was determined to start a club near the UTD plant in Athol.” (Not unlike the British tabloid folks introducing cricket to the American tabloid folks decades ago in South Florida I guess.)
And, again from the Petersham site: Most games are about 2 hours. In addition, you should arrive about 10 minutes before your game, and be prepared to stay and socialize after the game. For many, this is the best part of curling!
Aren’t you glad I drove past this sign?