Uncle Wiggily, Tell Time Quizmo, Wide World, Monopoly. Those were all games that bring back merry memories from my childhood. I discussed those four games in my previous post, 1950’s/1960’s Board Games This Kid Wore Out—Part 1. Let’s look at other games that were mainstays of baby boomer toy shelves and closets.
How many of us owned Sorry, a close second to Monopoly in terms of games played, at least in my house? Do you remember that feeling of power when you turned over a SORRY card and got to bump your opponent back to start? Getting a 7 and splitting it into 2 and 5 or 3 and 4 or 1 and 6—whatever it took to get into the safety zone or to zip down the colored slides to gain four spaces? My best friend Patty and I played so often that while the board lasted for years in generally good condition, the slides became woefully faded from moving the pawns across them countless times.
Each player begins by placing four pawns in the start circle. Follow directions on cards to get your pawns around the board and into home. The first player to get all four pawns home is the winner. If you want to refresh your memory on more elaborate directions, read here at Board Game Capital.
If you are a board game afficionado, you might enjoy a trip to The Board Game Art Park in Philadelphia, PA. Titled “Your Move” by artists Daniel Martinez, Renee Petropoulis, and Roger White, it boasts a “playful scattering of giant metal and fiberglass board game pieces on the gridded plaza around Philadelphia’s Municipal Services Building.” Read more at roadsideamerica.com.
Undoubtedly, Parcheesi took up residence in a large number of homes in the 1950’s and 1960’s. The original game, first called Pachisi, dates back to the 4th century AD in India. It is called the Royal Game of India because, according to Wikipedia, “royalty used servants of the royal household adorned in colored costumes as game pieces on large outdoor boards.”
Similar to Sorry, the goal of the game is to be the first player to move your four pawns from your round starting nest to the home position. To refresh your memory on Parcheesi directions and strategies, read more at HubPages.
Here is the exact version that my family had—the 1938 edition. My parents must have bought the game before my siblings and I were born. Even though it’s a rather slow-moving game compared to all that are available today, especially the wide assortment of electronic games, it entertained my family for many years.
If you’d like to relive fond memories of playing Parcheesi, this 1938 edition is available for purchase on e-Bay through positivelycollectible.
Although I threw away my beaten-up box and game board several years ago, I kept the playing pieces. You can see that the 1938 game included narrow paper cups for rolling the dice and small wooden discs as pawns.
My favorite board game of all time is Scrabble though I didn’t seriously get into it until my late teens. I am somewhat of a word junkie and now play Words With Friends, an alternative to Scrabble, on my iPad.
I played Scrabble with my sisters in our youth, but to tell the truth, much more often Patty and I used the game pieces to play “church.” When we realized that the wooden racks looked like church pews, our imaginations shifted into overdrive. We put two sets of racks together, creating 8 pews—4 on one side of the aisle and 4 on the other side. The tiles became people, and ushers would escort the “parishoners” to their seats. When all people were seated or when there was “standing room only,” mass would begin.
After the gospel, Father H would stand at the lectern and deliver a fire and brimstone homily that would unnerve the Scrabble congregation in their “pews” and rattle the imaginary stained glass windows. When Father would boom his dire warnings about hell and damnation, a few weak-kneed congregants would faint and fall out of their pews. “Death comes suddenly to those who sin!” we shouted. Perhaps our imaginings allowed us some catharsis from the stern admonitions we endured from the priests and nuns at our Catholic grade school. So much for Scrabble.
As in Part 1 of this post, there is a game that I must include though it’s not technically a board game. That would be Cootie, not to be confused with the dreaded contraction of germs as in “Get your cooties off my hula hoop.” First sold in 1949, the Cootie game became a big hit with little kids. The object of the game is to be the first player to assemble a colorful cootie bug from a variety of plastic body parts. Players have to roll dice in order to acquire a head, a curled tongue, a body, eyes, antennae, and six legs.
My daughter Leslie bought the newest edition of Cootie for her niece, our 3-year-old granddaughter Katie, this past Christmas. It was then that we discovered that this latest model is quite poorly made compared to the vintage models. The plastic is cheap; while some pieces fit tightly, others are too loose and fall off, especially the legs. Some cooties are difficult to stand up. The board is surprisingly flimsy as well. This was a disappointment to us adults although the grandchildren did enjoy the novelty of the toys and spent time playing with them albeit not by the standard rules.
Of course, the games I discussed in Part 1 and here in Part 2 are just a small sampling of the board games played in the 1950’s and 1960’s. Next, in 1950’s/1960’s Board Games This Kid Wore Out—Part 3, I’ll add a few more favorites to the list. Which games do you think I should mention? Have I targeted your favorite yet?
KAREN GENNARI is the author of The Crab Hollow Chronicles, a fictitious memoir based on her experiences growing up in a neighborhood full of boys in 1961/62. It also explores the merits and challenges of life in a Catholic family of seven.
Join nine-year-old Karen Schmidt in her attempts to navigate Crab Hollow Road amidst the overwhelming male majority who beleaguer her at every opportunity. Does Karen have the fortitude to weather toadnappings, midnight escapades, false impersonation, and more? Along the way, relive the people, products, music, sports, and headlines of the early 1960’s. Virtually every page references the 1960’s. Lots of your favorite toys are mentioned in these pages.