Way Back When… and Now
By Jeff Salter
Topic: Favorite game to play as a child? As an adult?
Hmm. As often happens when one of my suggested topics appears — I’ve completely forgotten what (if anything) I had in mind when I suggested it. LOL.
Outside vs. Inside
Let me start by differentiating between OUTSIDE games and INSIDE games. My formative years were during the middle and late 1950s — and most of my recreation in those days (during moderate weather, anyway) was out-of-doors. Of every outdoor activity (which LATER included typical sports like football, basketball, and softball) I believe my favorite was some variation of (A) cops and robbers, (B) cowboys and Indians, of (C) sheriff vs. gunfighter, (D) Davy Crockett vs. anybody, or (E) jungle hunter. In most cases, I rode a stick horse and had a [toy] six-gun holstered on my side. As Davy Crockett or jungle hunter, I usually carried a wooden rifle. I don’t recall that the games had much structure — mainly I rode my stick horse vigorously, chasing (and shooting) bad guys, and stopping at the “saloon” for a quick slurp of water from the garden hose. [The jungle version usually involved swinging on vines and struggling in “quicksand”.] Occasionally this was a solitary endeavor, but I also played these with my big brother, my little sister, or a friend / neighbor roughly my own age.
Another game I particularly enjoyed – because it required not only speed, but agility, strategy, timing, and finesse – was “capture the flag.” [It’s too complicated to explain here fully, but it involved two teams, with each team trying to reach the other’s HQ (without being tagged) and capturing their banner. There was a “jail” where your teammates (who’d been tagged) were confined and I often focused on freeing my teammates rather than zeroing in on the opponents’ flag.]
But what about outside games NOW? Nada. I don’t particularly like being out-of-doors these days unless it’s on our front porch with the overhead fan going and a breeze blowing.
Inside games (to me) are basically split between card games and so-called “board” games. I grew up playing both and enjoyed both.
My Aunt Ethel taught us several cool card games, including one called “Fan-Tan” (which my son learned by a different name and has re-taught me), and one called “Pig” (which also goes by the name “Spoons”). I’ve also enjoyed Crazy-Eights, Old Maid, Go Fish, Gin, Casino, Uno, and Mille Bornes.
I used to enjoy Spades and Hearts, but preferred when we played partners. Of all the partners I had for Spades, I think my favorite was my step-sister Ellen — as if she could read my mind (or see my hand) she almost always played what we needed for the trick (assuming her cards allowed). And we never discussed strategy either… we just “fit” in terms of synchronized play.
These days, I’d just as soon play a card game called GOLF as anything else, because it doesn’t require intense concentration or lightning-speed reflexes.
In the realm of board games, I never cared for “The Game of Life” or “Candy Land” but I enjoyed Monopoly. I also liked Stratego, and Risk. A game I got for my sixth birthday was the Annie Oakley game and I still played that up through my early adult years. I also enjoyed a game called CONCENTRATION and a home version of the popular TV game PASSWORD.
These days, I don’t fiddle much with board games, but if I were to play one, I think I’d still enjoy Balderdash… in which you provide (real or false) definitions of words and try to make them so convincing that other players will agree that it’s true.
A variation that’s neither a “board” game nor a card game is a group that includes Chinese Checkers (though I imagine it’s been re-named in the past few years). It uses marbles on a metal tray with a zillion holes. Also in this group is Dominoes… which I used to enjoy playing with a Sunday School class when we lived in Jonesville LA in the late 1970s. Since then, they’ve come out with a zillion different variations of dominoes, some with “double-twelves” or something. Impossible for my brain to do that much arithmetic these days.
I no longer remember how to play, or what the game was about, but I think it involved marbles. It was called AGGRAVATION, and a nurse taught it to Denise and me when she was in labor with our first child at the Cannon AFB hospital. I’ve always thought it was especially considerate of that nurse to keep us company and keep our minds occupied with something other than labor pains.
Let me add a footnote here: I never enjoyed cut-throat games. What do I mean by “cut-throat”? Any game that allows one player to “destroy” (demoralize) another, by sending him / her back to the beginning (or otherwise lose all their hard-earned gains). Such a game is SORRY. And its players are (usually) anything but “sorry” when their play causes such a set-back for an opponent. When I was stationed overseas – Thule AB, Greenland in the early 1970s – some of the guys in my barracks had a regular game of cut-throat SORRY. And they made it even more cut-throat by requiring a $10 ante from each player. The winner would collect some $50 – $80 (depending on the number of players, of course)… so you can be sure he had absolutely no regrets at sending his opponents back to the starting line. I observed several times, but I never played that game with them. For one thing, (with a wife and young child) I didn’t have the $10 to lose. For another, I hated the blood-lust I witnessed in their faces as they played.
What about YOU? What games did you enjoy as a kid? How about now?
[JLS # 608]