King Of Crib

We used to get together, a couple of fellow truckers and myself, in Herbert’s Corners, south of Ottawa, and play a lot of cribbage. Drink beer and play crib. The wives would huddle in another room and talk about kids and jobs and all that nonsense, but we’d play crib. It was beautiful, because beer and crib go together like Cheech and Chong, John and Yoko, Brad Marchand and Richard Simmons. Just perfect.

On one certain evening when the beer was flowing and the turntable was burning up,  talk again got around to who was the better crib player. I told them that I indeed was the King of Crib. They laughed. But wait, I said. There’s even a big billboard when you’re coming into Orillia that says “Welcome to Orillia, Home of Dennis Kane, King of Crib.”

They laughed again.

A few days later I phoned my father, who was a sign painter, and told him about the King of Crib thing. I also asked him if he would make up a little sign, about two feet square, which he did. Then I attached a couple of wooden sticks to it, put it in the ground on the side of the highway, and took a picture of it close up so it looked like a big sign.

I presented it to my fellow truckers shortly after. They believed me for days, right up until they discovered the other sign I had my dad make which I planted near their homes. It read “Welcome To Herbert’s Corners. Home Of The World’s Two Biggest Fish.”



12 thoughts on “King Of Crib”

  1. Hobo, he sure did. And you’re right – sign painting is a lost art. I can remember in the ’60s or ’70s when he’d tell me that the day was coming when computers would do it all. He was right.
    I used to watch him doing this kind of thing all free-hand and it was fascinating. There was a time when he tried to teach me but he decided I’d never be able to do it because I was left-handed and my hand would smear the paint.

  2. re,,king of crib,,,hey dennis,,,you forgot to end the story,,,you got beat so bad in crib in Herbert’s Corners you left Ottawa in shame,,,hey people the king of crib now resides in Morrisburg On…I welcome all opponents,,,,

  3. Yes folks, Rick was one of my marks. I’d let him win a couple, then bam. I urge all crib players to go to Morrisburg and play Rick for money. But I want a percentage.

  4. Dennis, no machine can replace the warmth of the sign maker’s hand.

    Do you remember the hand-painted signs at places like Big Bud’s in Ottawa? They used bright red and blue poster paints to advertize “Bread 69¢” etc. in the storefront window.

    You don’t see them around much anymore. But as a kid, I thought those kind of signs were really quite beautiful.

    Honest Ed’s is one of few remaining places keeping the old hand-made store sign tradition alive. Mostly, they’ve become nostalgic pieces of Canadian retail history…–honest-ed-s-sign-painters-keeps-tradition-alive

    There was even an art exhibit in 2010 of Honest Ed’s signs:

    All I know is no computer can replace the artistic flair and human warmth behind the hand-painted message of the sign maker.

    Here is a brief interview with one of Honest Ed’s sign makers, Doug Kerr:

    I love your funny little sign Mr. Kane, and I salute you.

  5. Danno, I didn’t know Honest Ed’s was keeping up the tradition. That’s fantastic. And because I’m biased, I say my dad was good as they got. It’s funny, in the one picture, Wayne Reuben is shown and he’s left-handed. My dad and I both decided that I could never be a sign-painter because I’m a lefty. Maybe it was his way of saying I didn’t have what it took to be one. But you can see in the picture, Mr. Reuben has to keep his hand below the lettering, whereas a right-hander wouldn’t have to.

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