Countin’ flowers on the wall

By William H. Baker

Contributing Writer

About five years ago as I was working on retirement plans, a friend offered some simple but sensible advice.

He suggested three important objectives for anyone moving from years of work to the years of retirement: 1. Keep healthy. 2. Stay busy. 3. Be happy.

Seemed simple enough, especially viewed alongside key interests in good health, books, music and work. The suggestions were wrapped around the song “Flowers on the Wall,” popularized by the Statler Brothers in the mid-1960s.

You may remember that the singer assures a concerned neighbor that he leads a full life even though he doesn’t leave his residence very often. That “full life” included countin’ flowers on the wallpaper, playing solitaire with a deck of 51 cards all night and well into the morning, and watching Captain Kangaroo.

As a senior citizen, fully into retirement now, I think about that song and the advice given just a few years ago. And, especially when enjoying the game of solitaire. It’s a game that I can play as a diversion when I tire of the routine, and I can play it alone on the computer at any time.

Because of that interest, I’ve learned that solitaire as a card game dates back into the mid-18th century. Historians say that solitaire made its first appearance in writing about 1783 where it was described in a German book of games.

Books of rules began appearing in English in the late 19th century. In the 1980s, personal computers made solitaire more popular than ever.

For many of us who are retired senior citizens, being able to start a new game with the click of a mouse has brought a level of pleasure and enjoyment that also enables us to be busy and alert.

If you play solitaire and/or are interested in in the history of the game, there are multiple sources of information available on the internet and at the local library. In print, for example, there is the History of Card Games and the Little Giant Encyclopedia of Card Games.

For many people, young and old, the game of solitaire can offer periods of enjoyment, keeping us busy for short periods of time, and adding regularly to our happy state of mind. Maybe I learned that from a friend who offered three simple steps to follow in retirement.

William H. Baker is a Claiborne County native and former Middlesboro resident. Email: wbaker@limestone.edu