Couple counts on crib

March 19, 2003 11:00 pm
Making a difference, Packy and Nancy Maxwell teach cribbage as part of the math curriculum at Curtis Creek School. (Amy Alonzo/Copyright 2003, The Union Democrat).
Making a difference, Packy and Nancy Maxwell teach cribbage as part of the math curriculum at Curtis Creek School. (Amy Alonzo/Copyright 2003, The Union Democrat).

By LENORE

RUTHERFORD

Combining widely varied backgrounds with a love of children and cribbage, Nancy and Packy Maxwell of Twain Harte have come up with a unique hobby.

They go into schools to teach fifth-graders how to play cribbage.

Their new avocation began about two years ago when they read a newspaper story about a Belleview Elementary School teacher who taught his students the card game.

The Maxwells contacted him, and he loaned them cribbage boards and a teaching manual and they went to work. So far, they have taught weekly classes at Twain Harte and Curtis Creek elementary schools.

Both have played the card game since they were small children and have taught it to their own two grown children, two of their three grandsons so far, and many friends.

Packy, 72, and his father won the Hawaii State Cribbage Championship about 25 years ago.

"Cribbage is a game of math," said Nancy, 68. "It teaches adding, multiplying and figuring out probabilities, all in their heads, not on their fingers, which they are prone to do."

Cribbage is only one facet in the lives of this duo.

After selling their home in Hawaii, the Maxwells moved to Tuolumne County permanently in 2000.

Raised in Hawaii, Packy moved back there with Nancy shortly after they were married in 1957.

They met while both attended Stanford University. Nancy had been raised on a peach ranch in Yuba City, and Packy attended the private Phillips Academy in Andover, Mass., before being accepted at Stanford.

Life offered its own education long before — and after — college.

Packy was a 10-year-old boy living on the beach near Diamond Head in Honolulu when Pearl Harbor was attacked on Dec. 7, 1941.

"I know it was terrible," he said, "but for a 10-year-old boy, it was an exciting time to live."

His family was evacuated from the beach-front home they were renting and, after spending a few days living with friends, the family moved into the Hotel Hale Kulani on Waikiki Beach, where he spent the war years before being sent to Phillips Academy.