Monday, December 05, 2005

Blasts From The Past

Almost every summer, my family would take a vacation and go to Missouri - where both my mom & dad grew up. Mom grew up in a little town named Alton, and her brother & sister & mom (my grandma!) still live there.

For a child of suburbia, it was a pretty disorienting experience. (If you want to see how I grew up, watch E.T. That kinda looks like my neighborhood.) I remember having trouble sleeping the first few nights each summer, as I could hear all these different sounds (mainly bug noises). Grandma didn't have air conditioning, either - which just seemed weird to me. (Of course, I kept trying to talk my Uncle Jim into paving the gravel road from the highway down to his house... a 1/4 mile of road. I just couldn't conceive of unpaved roads as being normal.)

One of my favorite places to visit/stay in Alton was Uncle Jim & Aunt Wylma's house - not only were they fun to hang out with , but they also had a pool table & a ping pong table & a shuffleboard court in the basement!

And they had this cabinet of games left behind by my older cousins... Video Village, Broadsides, Conflict, Flintstones, The Game of Nirtz, Smack-A-Roo, Beverly Hillbillies card game, and even an Electronic Baseball. (It was kind of like Electronic Football, with the runners that moved because the game vibrated, but his was done with a magnetic ball that stuck to the outfield fence.) I spent a lot of pleasant muggy afternoons & evenings playing games with my cousins & my sister at Aunt Wylma's house.

Over Thanksgiving weekend, I brought my family back to Alton to celebrate my grandma's 95th birthday. So, Braeden & I had the opportunity on Friday & Saturday to play some games... stuff I hadn't seen for 20+ years.

More of a dexterity playset than an actual game, Smack-A-Roo uses a spring-loaded shooter and marbles to play a variety of games. I don't remember playing this a lot as a kid - nor would I see myself playing much of it now. You don't have that much control over what happens once you shoot the ball - and the only interactive game in the whole thing is a baseball take-off. Braeden, however, occupied himself with it for hours.

The Bobbsey Twins Go To The Farm Game
I'm pretty sure that my brain blocked any memory of this nasty piece of work. Imagine Chutes & Ladders, only with 2 pawns per player & a longer map. Blech.

The Game of Cootie
It's no wonder Americans hate games, if this is the kind of stuff they got introduced to as kids. The only fun thing to do with Cootie is build bugs - the gameplay is simply "roll & hope you get the right number."

Video Village
I'm not old enough to remember the TV game show - but I certainly remember playing this game over & over with my sister & cousins. It's got a cool dice rolling device, plus a jail & a bridge & a series of stand-up plastic storefronts on the board. The game isn't much, but it's fast & light & a bit of fun. Braeden wasn't taken by this one, but he's too young to understand the appeal. (Or maybe he's just more "gamer" than I realize.)

I pulled out Broadsides & Conflict to look through the boxes again (I'd be happy to acquire copies of either of these games), but Braeden isn't old enough for either game yet. The Flintstones game was pretty good, as I recall, but time & weather had faded the card deck so much that it was unplayable.

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