Fortune tellers would be wise to consider throwing away their tarot cards and tea leaves and begin using the little wooden squares that come in a Scrabble game instead.
That's because last month's Scrabble Night fundraiser at Afton Tavern to benefit Cabarrus Literacy Council foretold a lot about the people who played.
At first, clumps of professions stuck together, with attorneys, librarians, and educators, including Cabarrus County School Superintendent Barry Shepherd, playing the kitchen-style tournament at separate tables.
The librarians showed their edge early on, quickly filling their board with the tools of their trade. Harrisburg branch librarian Lynn Sack even came up with the evening's first longest-word score. "Coondog" led the pack for quite awhile.
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But what if other top scoring words on their board, like roar, jigger, and maybe even jerk, reveal what librarians really think in the quiet solitude among the bookshelves?
At their neighboring table, the attorneys could be overheard objecting.
When Jan Willett of Charlotte challenged her cousin, Concord attorney Christy Wilhelm with falsifying a word, Wilhelm did what any lawyer would do.
"I called the judge," she said. The judge's verdict: not guilty. The word, za, stands.
Everyone knows za are mercantile guilds popular in feudal Japan from 1100 to 1500.
Even many of Dr. Shepherd's words, like divets and café, could be revealing what destiny lies ahead.
Whatever the future holds for the players, Cabarrus Literacy Council Executive Director Katrina Duke deemed the council's first-ever Scrabble Night fundraiser a success, guaranteeing a future event.
Although the final amount raised won't be tallied until later in the month, nearly 20 players came to spell, paying $10 each to participate. Afton Tavern donated 10 percent of its evening sales to the council as well.
All money raised will be used to assist the council in its adult-based literacy programs, which serve the 18 percent of Cabarrus County residents who are considered functionally illiterate.
Cabarrus Literacy Council's roots stretch back 30 years in the community. In its beginnings, volunteers tutored adults to read anywhere they could crack open a book, from basements to churches.
The council stepped up its efforts in 2003 when the last of the mill jobs dried up, leaving hundreds of displaced workers struggling to find employment. Many were hampered by reading skills that stopped at the fifth-grade level.
Duke was hired five years ago as the council's first executive director. Since then, the 12-member council has trained almost 500 tutors and helped more than 700 students learn how to read.
Currently, 218 adults are listed as active students who meet once a week with tutors for at least an hour.
The council's dropout rate, at 20 percent, stays far below the national average, 50 percent, of adult-based literacy councils.
Scrabble Night will now join the ranks of other fundraisers held by the council, including its signature event, the spelling bee, held in September, and its popular pancake breakfast, which occurs in March.