Where it Began

In my distant youth there were very few games compared to today. The list would include Monopoly, Risk, Careers, Clue, other roll-and-move games, Scrabble, checkers, chess, Chinese chess, marbles, crokinole, and puzzles. Looking back, it seems as though we might only have had sticks and stones for toys but what we didn’t know we didn’t miss.

My brother Glen taught me how to play chess at the age of 6 but we didn’t go far into strategy, simply how the pieces moved. He and I also spent many happy hours whaling on each other in ping pong and table hockey. (Actually, he demolished me in ping pong, being the older and much taller brother, but I held my own in table hockey.)

This does not count outdoor games, many enjoyable summer’s evenings playing kick-the-can, hide-and-seek, tag, pick-up or scrub baseball, 500, or just plain catch, touch football, knee soccer, shinny, and anti-I over. In winter, snow tag is a special version of tag with paths in the snow that all must stay on. We also combined and reinvented new games from these.

Games with my brother Jerry are worthy of another blog, as his were all personally invented. They were strange and creative, usually involving some form of physical pain, dexterity, and speed.

A game developed by my third and oldest brother Rob was a form of team play that involved shooting canning jar elastics at each other. Rob loved shooting.

I dare not go into regular sports here. That was my father’s passion, one that he sought to infuse into his four boys. He loved baseball and hockey but mostly baseball. Basketball, track, soccer, football—these he heartily encouraged. I don’t think I ever saw him play a board game. Bridge was the card game of choice for my parents. Everything else was just silly.

There is way too much to say in an introductory blog about games. Setting the context for my abiding love of games could take as long as it takes to play Stock Ticker, which is basically forever according to the original rules. (Believe me, we tried.)

I fell in love with board games as much as I did with writing poetry, nurturing those loves almost secretly through my adolescent years in spite of subtle societal pressure to drop such trivial pursuits. My family, through grandparents on both sides, was used to a hardscrabble pioneer’s life on the prairies. It is because of that upbringing that impractical pursuits were pursued with delight as a welcome break from that tough existence of hot dusty summers and cold winters. Games, whether traditional or creative, were all there was once the long workday ended.

And so ends my first blog for the board game café, King Me Boardgamery and Café, established with the help of friends and family to create a venue for social bonding, to capture that ambiance of diversion over boredom that I remember so well as a child.