Local couple wins triple letter score for amplified version of a favorite board game

Scrabble gets bigger, better in homemade backyard invention

LAKE TOWNSHIP – For Jane and Keith Crane, Scrabble is an outdoor sport. The Cranes installed an 8-foot-square game board in their backyard earlier this summer, so now their Thursday night Scrabble tournaments take on outsized importance.

The Cranes are both Ohio educators. She teaches second grade at Firestone Park Elementary; he retired after 36 years teaching government at Tallmadge High School.

And both, not surprisingly, are aficionados of the word game. So when Keith Crane saw a smaller version of a game board installed on an HGTV show, his interest was piqued.

He fashioned the board from pavers laid in a bed of sand-225 of them, to be exact. He installed them all in one day and had the back pain to prove it.

Jane Crane painted the bonus square in the proper colors and made letter tiles from craft-store wood plaques.

She took apart shelves and reconfigured the pieces to make tile racks, and pavers and tiles were sealed to prevent water damage.

Now Scrabble games at the Crane house are a physical as well as mental pursuit.

The players have to get out of their seats to place their tiles on the board and pick new ones from the selection spread out face down in the grass.

They usually play on Thursday evenings, when Jane Crane’s mother, Nancy Johnson, can get in on the action. She lives near Malvern and typically spends the night between her Thursday volunteer stint at Akron City Hospital and her Friday morning tennis match in Manchester.

Sometimes other relatives or friends show up.

A couple of weeks ago, neighbors who’d seen the Cranes playing came by, driven by curiosity.

“You know, it’s fun because we get outside,” Jane Crane said. “… It gives us a good excuse to be out.”

They haven’t faced many challenges, other than having to light patio torches when darkness falls or dealing with the few times their dog, Maggie, has run across the game board. If it rains, they just take the game inside _ on a regulation Scrabble board, that is.

“But you know,” Jane Crane said, “it’s not as much fun.”