In these quieter days at home I’ve been doing some of those “cleaning out” and “sorting through” housekeeping chores. On one of those cleaning days while looking through Family Games, I was met with a sweep of wonderful old memories.
Our lives are tied up with memories not only of the people and places we’ve loved and known, but with the good times and activities associated with them. One of those pleasures—threaded from my childhood through today—has been the joy of playing a multitude of board, card, and outdoor games. The list of different games I’ve played and enjoyed over my life is long … and that list is still growing, because I really love games!
The first games I remember as a child are old classics still around today—card games like “Go Fish,” “Old Maid,””Slap-Jack,” and “Crazy Eights” … and simple board games like “Candy Land” and “Uncle Wiggly.” I remember my mother taught me to play “Chinese Checkers” and later “Parcheesi,” two of her favorites, and Dad taught me to play “Marbles,” “Jacks,” and real “Checkers.” Both taught me how to create and play Paper Games, too, that they learned as children … “Tic-Tac-Toe,” “Dot-to-Dot,” and “Hang Man.” These were popular in my Elementary School years, too, because we could scribble them on school paper and pass them around to play.
Neither of my parents were big “game players,” nor was my older brother, but I learned games from my friends at school and while visiting at their homes in my neighborhood. My friend Paula’s parents loved games and puzzles. Paula’s mother taught us to play “Canasta,” “Rummy,” “War,” and many other games with playing cards. Mr. Ferrell taught us all to play backyard “Croquet.” Always a competitive player, he played to win, too, and set the bar high. Another neighbor, Mr. Hartman, created a huge lighted badminton court in his backyard and I learned that game at their house. His daughter Trish, my first friend who lived right across the street from me, taught me to dribble and shoot basketball later, too, and to play simple basketball games like “Horse.” Many of our best loved childhood and school-year games were played outdoors … “Hop-Scotch” and “Jump Rope” games like “Run-Through-School.” I played jump rope games on the playground, too, and on our neighborhood street. I still remember the sing-song jump rope lyrics of “Teddy-Bear, Teddy-Bear” of “Cinderella-Dressed-in Yellow” and of “Down in the Valley Where the Green Grass Grows.”
At school, in Girl Scouts, at summer camps and in other groups we played “Bingo” and often played for prizes. The game of Bingo started in the 1530s in Italy and it is one of the oldest and most popular games in the world. I remember as a young college girl being taken on dates to Deane Hill Country Club where Bingo was played for prizes as large as a new car!
Many of my play times and game times growing up were spent outdoors. On sunny afternoons in my neighborhood and on warm summer evenings near dusk, we played outdoor games like “Red Rover,” “Kick the Can,” Hide and Seek,” and “Mother May I.” If I close my eyes I can still hear the laughter of the voices calling out …”One-Two-Three on Steve!…I see you behind that bush.” Those were happy, innocent times.
A favorite Christmas gift every year—and often at birthdays—was a new board game. I remember an early one I loved was “Game of the States” that taught me all the states, their capitals, and facts about them. We played many board games… “Monopoly,” “Clue,” “Pay Day,” “Parcheesi,” “Sorry,” and “Careers.” Later with our children I played these all again … along with new ones like “The Game of Life,” “Battleship,” “Operation,” “Hi-Ho Cherry-O,” “Chutes and Ladders,” “Risk,” ”Cootie,” and “Mastermind.”
Through the years we also played many popular boxed card games like “Rook,” “Uno,” Phase 10,” and “Skip Bo.” Our repertoire of playing card games grew to include favorites like “Knock,” “Shang-Hai Rummy,” a multitude of Solitaire games like “Clock” and of course “Poker,” played with chips, buttons, or pennies.
One of our favorite family games through all the years was “Clue.” It was wonderful fun to travel from room to room to try to determine, by elimination, “who” had murdered the victim and with “what” weapon. Especially in the years when I was reading all the Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys mysteries I loved this game … and I found my children and my husband loved it, too. Naturally, we always had our “favorite” characters in that game and mine was always Colonel Mustard. “Clue” and the “Game of Life” were probably two of our all-time favorites that we never seemed to tire of playing.
My other favorite games were always word games … like “Scrabble.” I still think this is a fantastic game to help develop word and spelling skills. J.L. and I battle heavily whenever we play this one, trying to come up with the most creative words and with words that will count the most points. A couple of other word games that are fun are “Upwords,” “Spill and Spell” and “Bananagrams” which comes in a cute, little zippered banana case, easy to carry when you travel!
Group and party games came into play in these years, too, “Charades,” “Trivial Pursuit,” “Pictionary,” “Twister,” “Jenga,” and fast paced games we all laughed over like “Catch Phrase.” I still like the old game of Charades, which is another old classic game. A parlor game, dating back to the 1700s in France, Charades has woven its way into many books, movies, and television shows over the years.
Even now J.L. and I keep discovering new games. A favorite of ours for a number of years has been “Mexican Train,” played with dominoes … and we continue to pull out and play our old favorites like “Yahtzee” and “Scrabble.”
I hope your life, too, has been peppered and flavored with a multitude of great games from your childhood years until today. I’m sure you probably have some favorites I’ve missed mentioning … and maybe reading my remembrances today, you’ll want to dig out a few old favorites to play one evening soon.
[Note: All photos my own, from royalty free sites, or used only as a part of my author repurposed storyboards shown only for educational and illustrative purposes, acc to the Fair Use Copyright law, Section 107 of the Copyright Act.]