Family board games were an education
One of the many good things about the Christmas season is getting together with family. Well, I suppose that depends on the family. Some of you may be glad they’ve packed up and headed home already.
Sitting around and talking all at once seems to be a great pastime in my family, It is somewhat like you see on those glimpses into the New York Stock Exchange and when your turn comes to speak, you have to be quick and make sure you’ve been listening to all five conversations.
One of the discussions turned to playing board games and how many of the old games are making a comeback. Some people are turning off the electronics and sitting around the kitchen table again.
We always had plenty of games and we played a lot. In those days they advertised them as ‘entertaining and educational,’ and we certainly got an education.
For instance, Monopoly was a popular game with us kids. It was amazing how 15 minutes into the game, good Christian, rural children had changed. Suddenly we were slum lords buying up low rent houses on Marvin Gardens, Virginia and Atlantic Avenues. We roared with laughter when one of our siblings had to go to jail, and we hoarded cash every time we passed go.
Soon we strived to be elitist developers and laughed diabolically if one of our poorer lot landed on our newly upgraded Park Place or Boardwalk. Yet little did we know that the educational component was supposed to inform us that someday Park Place would be a lot in Brookswood and the banker would be even more difficult to deal with than our big sister was during the game.
The Monopoly game has had quite a history since it appeared in 1934, and has gone through a lot of changes. In 1941 the British Secret Service had special games made up that included hollowed-out pieces that contained maps or messages and real cash, and had them distributed by fake charities to prisoner of war camps in Germany.
Some modern versions have done away with the cash and have an electronic feature that uses debit or credit cards. The property prices in the new games have increased from $200 to $2 million and the penalties now include Visa interest. Talk about educational.
No doubt a Langley version would have you constructing an overpass on the Pennsylvania Railroad to make it easier to get from St. James Place to Virginia Ave., with the money coming from Community Chest, of course.
One year we got a large crokinole board that had the crokinole game on one side and checkers, chess and a marble board game on the back. We had that for years and I have no idea what became of it.
Speaking of mysteries, Clue was always a favourite and taught us to have secrets and to accuse each other of terrible crimes. “Aha, it was you Colonel Mustard, in the conservatory, with the lead pipe.” I’m sure in today’s Clue game, Col. Mustard’s lawyer would have him free in 24 hours.
But the concept of a family sitting around a kitchen table together was one of the values people like Hasbro or Parker Brothers was trying to promote, and it is nice to see it’s making a return.
We may just be a roll of the dice away from talking to each other again. At least that’s what McGregor says.