Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Games & Puzzles

Miriam over at AnceStories2 has provided us with a set of prompts for telling our family's involvement with games and puzzles. Since it's a nice icy day here in East Tennessee, I thought I'd take time to answer at least some of the questions.

Did you have a regular game night or family night?

Not really. However, we played games more often when I was younger than later, and we'd almost always play games when the whole family got together.

What games (board, card, dice, or acting out) did your family enjoy? Was there a favorite you played time after time?

The one game I associate most with the Thornton family is Rook. Yes, that little bird was always haunting us. I remember one year when I was playing, and my niece climbed in my lap. We told her that she couldn't tell if someone had the Rooker. Well, wouldn't you know I got it? And guess what my niece said? "Birdy" All four of us laughed. I don't think anyone bid against me on that hand.

My paternal grandfather was a big domino player. He had friends who came over to his house (or he went to theirs) almost every day to play dominoes. Later on, Mom and Dad liked playing the Mexican Train and Chicken Foot varieties of the game, but my earliest recollections of playing dominoes were with Pappaw!

I remember that we had a Tripoley board that we played with poker chips. We never collected cash, just the chips. Of course, the chips represented the real amounts. My brothers and their friends used to play this, and I remember running across the game one time. I insisted that I had to learn to play it. Mom & Dad remembered and taught me. I taught all my friends, and I remember that we literally played all night one night. We started at my house and finished up at the Bakers across the street.

Monopoly was always a big hit with us.

I had Game of the States, Concentration, Wheel of Fortune, The Price Is Right, and all sorts of other games in my own collection.

I got on a Backgammon kick in college.

Later, we enjoyed Pictionary, Trivial Pursuit, some Bible Trivia game that was similar to Trivial Pursuit but in which you climbed a rainbow 3 times and then answered a final question, Scattergories, and several other games.

Did your family have a family or game room? What was it like? What kind of game equipment did it have (foosball, pool table, etc.)?

No game room.

Do you have any funny stories or a particular memory (good or bad) that stands out of game-playing time?

I think I've already related the Rook game and the Tripoley game.

What's the first game you remember playing?

Hmmm. I would say that it would probably be The Game of the States. I know that I got that one at a pretty early age.

Were there any games you disliked? Why?

My neighbors had Hi-Ho Cheerio. I always thought that was a stupid game. I usually avoided playing it at their house if I could. I'd suggest something else, and they'd go for it.

Were there any games that were not allowed to be played? Why?

Well, I'm sure I wasn't allowed to play with a Ouija Board for obvious reasons, but I don't think I ever wanted to play with one. I really don't remember anything else although I'm sure there was something. We even played penny ante poker once or twice. Of course, we just raided the penny jar for that and no one really lost any money.

Did your parents have a regular night when they would play games or cards with friends or extended family?

I don't think it was a regular night, but they did play cards, especially Rook, often.

Did you ever have game nights with groups, clubs, or neighbors on a regular basis?

Only with the neighbor kids for me!

Was game playing associated with certain annual events, like holidays, birthdays, or vacation times?

We always played on holidays with the family.

What kinds of snacks and beverages were enjoyed during game playing?

When my brothers were still in the house, they'd have their friends over to play games. I vividly remember that we usually had Bagles and a Blue Cheese dip that I called "Stinky Cheese." However, I really liked "Stinky Cheese" and later Mom couldn't remember how she made it. I really hate that she can't remember it, because I loved it. By the way, we had our drinks in those wonderful aluminum tumblers that kept your drinks really cold. I loved those old tumblers. I want a set now, but they cost over $30 for the reproduction sets. If I have to pay that much for a reproduction, I am going to haunt some antique stores for some of the originals!

Later, we just had whatever we had at the house at the time.

Were there prizes awarded to game winners or even to losers? What kinds? Did everyone chip in towards purchasing the prizes?

Not that I recall.

Did your family or you ever do jigsaw puzzles?

We used to have them up quite a bit. Later it was mostly around the holidays. Sometimes there would be one at Pappaw's and one at our house.

What's the largest--in terms of number of puzzle pieces--jigsaw puzzle you've completed?

I know I've done at 2000 piece, but I seem to remember one with more pieces than that. The last few we put together were 1000 piecers because my parents couldn't see the ones much smaller than that.

What did you do with completed puzzles? Did you display them or simply put them away?

We put them back in the box. Then, we'd usually take them to the nursing home for their recreation room.

What about puzzles such as crosswords, cryptograms, or others found in puzzle books?

Dad was the crossword fan. I liked them pretty well too. My favorite ones were the logic puzzles. I still work these on occasion. I liked word search puzzles at one time, but I don't enjoy them much now. By the way, you'll appreciate this . . . editorial cartoonist Jim Borgman who cartoons for the Cincinnati Enquirer, mentions his career highlight (which involves a crossword clue).

Are you a Sudoku fiend?

I like Sudoku and taught my dad. He's hooked now.

Did you ever go to an arcade and play pinball machines or other arcade-style games?

Arcade games weren't my favorite. I played sometimes, but I wasn't good so I didn't really keep at it.

Or did you ever shoot pool?

I used to play pool when I'd visit my brother and his wife. We'd go to the Agnews house in Pratts, and I'd play pool with Little Frank. I've played a few more times over the years.

I actually was quite good at ping-pong or table tennis back in my college days!

Do you remember seeing your first video game, either in an arcade or on a television (Pong, Atari or early Nintendo games)? What kinds of video games did you like to play, if any? Do you play any now (gaming station or handheld)?

I've never been a big fan.

What was your first computer game?

I remember playing Hunt the Wumpus. [Just a hint - be sure to read the instructions first!] I don't remember if it or PacMan was first, but I'd guess the Wumpus was.

Do you ever play computer games now, either on your computer or online?

Not much. I occasionally do the puzzle at JigZone. I like the CD version of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire. I'll occasionally play one of the card games on the computer.

What about the present? Does your family or do you personally play games or do puzzles? Do you participate in game nights with others, such as poker or Bunco?

The family doesn't play as much as we used to play. We occasionally have game nights for various groups at church or work, but it's really rare. My cat allows me to play games with him if that counts!

Here are some other game ideas to write about: lawn games (horseshoes, croquet, badminton); kid games (marbles, jacks); betting, casino games, and bingo; party games (pinata, pin the tail on the donkey), etc.

Horseshoes - We used to play this at a family camp I attended. The Godfreys or Smiths brought a set each year, I think.

Croquet - I remember playing this when I was little. I loved it.

Badminton - We had a set at one point, but those shuttlecocks sure didn't last long.

Hand Golf - This was a game that was very popular at the family camp we attended. There was an 18 hole course, and EVERYONE played in the afternoon free time.

Marbles - I had a lot. I probably never played the right way.

Jacks - This was one of Mom's favorite games. She must have played a lot as a child from what I gathered. I, of course, learned to play, but I was never the enthusiast she was.

Bingo - It was mostly a birthday party game. Of course, later, it was entertainment at the campgrounds where we camped.

Pinata - I remember being blindfolded once when I was a kid at school for this, but it wasn't a big thing for us.

Pin the Tail on the Donkey - Essential game for birthday parties as a child. No party was complete without it.

What do you know about your parents', grandparents', or perhaps even great-grandparents' game playing? Do you remember them saying anything about games they played when they were young?

I've mostly covered this.

Do you have any photos of either your present or your childhood families playing games? What about ancestral photos?

There may be a few at Mom's house, but I don't think I have any here. At least I can't remember any!


Thomas MacEntee said...


Your memory of Rook reminded me of one game I left out on my post: Milles Borne. It was a game from Parker Brothers - it involved cards used in a "road race" where you racked up miles. There were also hazards such as a flat tire, speeding ticket etc. We always thought we were being fancy because much of the wording was in French!

The aluminum tumblers you are talking about are by Kromex. I collect the spun aluminum Kromex kitchen items (cake plate, spice rack, canisters) and have gotten all my items on Ebay. I think people still sell the aluminum sets, with different colors and sometimes even the carrying rack, on Ebay.

Lori Thornton said...

My brother had Milles Bornes so I played it once or twice at his house.

Janice said...


I enjoyed reading your article, and it brought back lots of memories. I enjoyed playing board games as a child, except my Mom insisted that ALL of the kids play (there were 4 of us born in 3 years so close in age).

One brother had a particularly short attention span, and when he got tired of the game, he would "accidentally" knock the board and pieces over.

Thanks for the memories!


Tex said...

I forgot about Rook!! How could I have? We played constantly in college and afterward.