I remember playing board games when I was a kid. I am not sure who I played them with—my sisters were 4 and 6 years older than me. My level of game would have been boring for them. I am guessing that we played them together once in a while, but I think I played them most with my cousins. I had two families of cousins who I saw a lot as a kid. We played a lot together. The three cousins I played the most with were Glenn (who was my age), Patti (a year younger than me), and Peggy (2 years younger). Those three cousins lived next door to each other until I was around 10 years old. When I visited one, I got them all! I loved going to either of their homes and having cousins to play with.
Flipcards was the game of the day if I was with Glenn. He had hundreds of baseball cards. They didn’t sit alone in a box, they were played with. I wonder how many Mickie Mantel and Jackie Robinson cards we destroyed playing with them. Because the rest of us girls didn’t collect these cards, Glenn would lend us some of his. I just remember we flipped the card in the air and how they landed said who got to keep the cards. Well, in the end, Glenn got to keep them—they were his after all.
Do you remember Cootie? Roll the dice and put a big giant bug together. I also found that game a bit boring. Roll the dice, add a body part—ho hum. I much preferred Chutes & Ladders with its character game pieces, and the hopes to land on a ladder and not a sliding board. It resembled real life—sure wanted to climb the ladder quickly and hopefully, sliding backward would not happen as often or as far as the ascension on the ladder. Sorry was a game I remember playing with my mom and sisters. It was an easy game to learn, was basically the luck of the cards with a small amount of strategy.
Every New Years Eve, we went to my grandparents’ house with all my cousins who were at least school age. We played Monopoly late into the night—probably until 11:00 or midnight. We went outside and banged pots and pans together to bring in the new year. We watched old movies on TV until we could no longer keep our eyes open, which was later the older we were. I don’t remember when that New Years ritual changed, but my teen years I was not there on New Years Eve.
My favorite game was Go To The Head Of The Class. It was the Trivial Pursuit of the 50s and 60s. There were questions for kids and for adults, so all ages could play. As much as I didn’t like school, I loved playing this game of knowledge–go figure!
Playing Careers at my cousin’s house was super fun. We could become an astronaut or a teacher. It reminded me of a modified Monopoly board, and it had money, and I think the object was to collect the most money, fame, and fortune. I really don’t remember, but I do remember that we kept track of our scores on small “magic slates”, if you remember those at all (a waxy back board, with a film sheet. Move the wooden stylus on it and the film sheet would stick to the waxy back board to see what was witten. Pull the film sheet apart from the waxy back board, and the sheet was clean again.
As I got older, we discovered The Game Of Life. What a silly game. We had a car and moved it spaces according to a spinner, like the noisy spinners on a TV game show. We went to school, we got a job, got married, and even added kids to this car. What was the object? Did we win when we lived our life through and died? No, but I have no idea what made us a winner—I think getting to the end first—yep, you were a winner if you ended life first. Huh, really? Maybe it was the one with the most money and kids. I really don’t remember.
Finally, the grown up version of all games entered my life—Scrabble. It required me to put on my thinking cap and learn to spell. It was a game my youngest son and I played a lot before he moved away to Los Angeles. We didn’t totally follow the rules. We allowed each other to look up words in the Scrabble Dictionary for a word that would work with our tiles. If we used a new uncommon word, we had to say what that word meant. I figured it was a good way to increase and improve our vocabularies while having fun playing the game. My oldest granddaughter went to Scrabble club in elementary school–she actually went by accident, loved it, and got very involved. She became quite a challenger, and we enjoyed many Scrabble games together.
I have learned that either you are a game player, or you hate playing board games. I am on the side of loving to playing games. It fits the competitive side in me. My daughter-in-law is also a competitive game player. We have fun playing games, but you can see she and I rising to the challenge of competition with the rest of our less competitive game playing family. We get our competitive hats on to try to win while still having fun with everyone. My husband doesn’t like playing games because he doesn’t like the feeling of competition. I am okay with that. I have watched my grandchildren work hard to learn the concept of a game, and start applying strategy.
The first time I taught Jack, my grandson, to play Mexican Train Dominoes, I thought we would have to hold back a bit since he was only six. He caught on quickly how to organize his tiles and use them strategically. He beat our socks off that day. He is almost 17 years old now, and I know his strategic brain will get him far in life.
The latest game we have played is Qwirkle. It is kind of a combination of Scrabble and Dominoes, but uses colors and shapes. Any age can play, but once one learns there is a real strategy to the game, they can blow you away at any age.
I still love playing games with kids and adults. We laugh a lot while we play. We moan and groan at our losing moves, and get haughty on our sneaky moves, and we celebrate whoever wins the game. It has brought me together with my cousins, my sisters, my kids, and my grandkids. I think playing games helps children learn sportsmanship by learning how to win and lose graciously. It teaches them strategic thinking. It connects them with others, especially in this time of electronics. It definitely connects me with my children and grandchildren.
These are just some of the games I have enjoyed over the years. There are many more that keep popping into my head. Don’t need to bring them up. I just want to jog your memory or your life playing games. What were some of your favorite games? Do you still play them? With whom do you play them?