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Clarksville

Another weird thing my father left me

“Oops!”

That was the name my old man and his pal, Radford, bestowed on the prehistoric plywood versions of Foosball that my father built in his basement shop back in the mid-1950s.

This game was one of probably a dozen that he made and sold to friends for pretty much the cost of the lumber. I inherited it after my father’s death in 1981 and there was reason for that.

I was once an “Oops!” prodigy.

Oh, yeah. There was a time in my life when I might’ve been the greatest young “Oops!” player alive.

I was Roger Federer with a wooden dowel rod instead of a tennis racket.

I was so good at the forward position that my parents let me compete against adults at their cocktail parties. I was maybe 6 and had to stand on a stool to see over the table.

I didn’t care. I just wanted to kick all of their adult butts and I usually did.

“Oops!” plays just like any table hockey game. Each side has a goalie and a forward position. Knock the ping-pong ball through the other team’s end hole more times and you win.

According to family lore, some Army guys that Radford was stationed with in Alaska during World War II drew up the plans for “Oops!” out of boredom.

That’s probably complete malarkey. Table hockey history supposedly dates back to the 1800s.

It didn’t matter. What matters is that I spent years sharpening my “Oops!” skills until one fateful day after high school. I walked into Silver Lanes bowling alley and saw a real Foosball table set up near the pool tables.

“I’m gonna get rich!” I thought, imagining how my “Oops!” skills would easily parlay into Foosball glory.

I grabbed a friend. We challenged some punks to a game with two bucks on the line.

We got creamed. Creamed.

Turns out “Oops!” is a slooow-motion version of Foosball.

Couldn’t keep up. I was used to dinking light ping-pong balls around.

Foosballs were hard. They smacked through our end zone like rifle bullets. BAM!!

Mortified, I paid the winners and left the bowling alley vowing to never play “Oops!” again.  




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Thoughts and ruminations from S-R columnist Doug Clark