In 1923, if you were on vacation by the shores of Lake Erie, you would have spent your summer days in proper and sedate fashion. You walked and enjoyed nature, took art classes and listened to enriching seminars, and attended chapel and live performances at the auditorium in the evening. You most likely filled every other free moment playing the new sports sensation, roque. In the Roaring Twenties, in Lakeside, Ohio, you hustled to the roque court and stayed up past midnight in keen competition.
Roque was billed “the Game of the Century” by its enthusiasts, and it was even an Olympic sport in the 1904 Summer Games, replacing croquet from the previous games. Roque was played on a hard sand or clay 30 by 60 foot court bordered by a boundary wall. Players used this wall to bank balls similarly to how billiard balls are played off the cushions of a billiard table. The rules of roque were largely similar to those of croquet. In its heyday, the Lakeside Roque Club had as many as 60 members.
The name “roque” was suggested by Mr. Samuel Crosby of New York in 1899, who removed the initial “c” and final “t” from “croquet. Roque was an American version of the British croquet. The National Croquet Association, formed in 1882, thereafter changed its name to the National Roque Association in 1899. While it did not remain an Olympic event, Roque’s popularity continued, and in 1937, the leading U.S. Roque players competed in the national summer tournament in Lakeside, Ohio.
In 21st Century Lakeside Chautauqua, you can play miniature golf, shuffle board, basketball, horseshoes and tennis, You can walk Ohio’s Most Beautiful Mile and you can ride bikes on narrow streets past Victorian cottages. There is a farmer’s market, vesper services, movie and nightly live entertainment in the large auditorium. But there is no long a roque court. It was removed in 1964.
In 2004, the American Roque and Croquet Association suspended tournaments because the number of participants at the Nationals had shrunk to single figures. Roque is still played by a small number of people in the United States.
I am a writer, blogger, book reviewer, and bon vivant and encourager. I have lived my entire life in Tropical Ohio. My goal is to make friends with everyone in the world. I am writing a fiction series, The Golden Age of Charli, that presents the problems and praises, and the love and laughter of family life and retirement.
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