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Searching for Bocce Balls

July 3, 2010

Growing up Labor Day meant heading down to Lawrence, Massachusetts for the Feast of the Three Saints.  After watching the Saints come out, wandering around the bazaar and grabbing a slice of Tripoli’s pizza we would sometimes go to my Uncle Fred’s house to eat and play outside before heading back to watch the saints be put back into the Holy Rosary Church. 

I played with a little peddle car at their house and also with a set of eight multicolored plastic bocce balls. At the time I had no idea what game the red, yellow, blue and green balls were used for, but I do recall throwing them around with reckless abandon on their lawn.  I also remember they were full of water which I found to be odd.

When I got older and we would have summer cookouts with Jim, Robin, Uncle Bob and Aunty Dolly in addition to eating Italian sausages from the Red Barn and swimming we also would also play bocce. By the time the set had improved from one of multicolored plastic balls to one made of some sort of rock like substance.  There were four burgundy balls, four forest green balls, and one white pallino. By this time I knew the rules and we would play on the lawn with no real defined court.   It was supposed to be for fun but it always became competitive.

With July 4th right around the corner I wanted to find a set of bocce balls so I could teach the game to Becks and bring a little of my Italian-American heritage to the deep south.  While there were plenty of places online to purchase a set there was no way I was going to be able to have it shipped to Monticello in time for Independence Day.

Instead, I decided to see if I could find a bocce set somewhere in the Greater Tallahassee area.  My search of two stores up in Thomasville resulted in two “we don’t sell that here” responses along with a look from one clerk that said she had no idea what I was talking about.

Before making the drive to Tallahassee I called several stores.  One store  told me they “ain’t never heard of the game of bog-ee” and said that even if their website said they had it in stock they “probably did not sell it in Tallahassee since it doesn’t sound like something people would buy around here”. 

Things were looking pretty bleak until I contacted the Target on Thomasville Road.  The associate in sporting goods knew exactly what I was talking about and told me they had two sets in stock.  One was made of plastic while the other was like the one I used to play with back in New Hampshire.  I asked him to reserve the second set for me and told him I would be there to pick it up in 30 minutes.

My bocce set was waiting at the courtesy desk with a big “Mike B.” pinned to the front of it.  It was more than I expected! It is made by Sportcraft and consisted of a square black nylon carrying case and eight balls made of some hard material, and a white pallino.  I am very happy that I was able to track down a bocce set for the 4th of July and cannot wait to teach Becky (and someday Mason and Julia) how to play!

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