Curling is a mystery to many, since it appears to combine two things most people don't associate: slow-motion hockey and sweeping the floor. Now that winter has laid down the hammer, icy sports are in vogue, so let's catch up with Jane McClure, co-author of "100 Roaring Years on Selby Avenue -- The St. Paul Curling Club," freshly published by Beaver's Pond Press.
An Iowa native, she's one of those people who might know local history better than the natives. Among her jobs: history tours for newly coined constabulary.
"I did the police department rookie tour -- a bus trip to explain the city's history and current events. I'd start out by telling them it was a three-hour tour, and all these rookie cops would start singing, A THREE HOUR TOUR! A THREE HOUR TOUR!"
True to the Gilligan shanty, the weather started getting rough, the yellow bus was tossed:
"We were going to the Sun Ray area and the bus was T-boned by a car. The driver jumps out and looks at the passengers and I thought he was going to have a heart attack. I asked the cops if they'd learned to write tickets yet, and no one had. I told the driver, 'You're getting a break.'"
One history gig led to another, and eventually she found herself writing the history of the St. Paul Curling Club for its 2010 Centenary. Which brings up the question many have asked: What the deuce is curling?
"You sweep the ice to move the stone."
Yes, but that's true of so many things.
"It's a game of skill and precision, and yet it's also a game of strategy. It's a really strange sport, with different levels of skill. You can do [it] if you're not a superfast runner, or can't dunk a ball." Or a stone.
In its heyday, the sport knew no class distinctions. And people followed curling like it was a major league sport. Until there were major league sports, that is.
But perhaps its time has returned. We could spend $500 million on a grand new indoor curling rink with major corporate support!
"Oh, we can wish," McClure chuckles, but she notes that even in its heyday there wasn't much televised curling.
"There wasn't any Curling for Dollars," she said.
But there could be. A retro sport, low-tech equipment, arcane rules, shot on videotape: Curling is perfect for a hipster revival.
There's your next book, Jane: "100 Days of Curling on Lyndale Avenue"! After that they'll get bored and move on to something else.