Thursday, September 28, 2017

How to have fun on long trips (1952)

Fun for the Family is a 30-page staplebound booklet that was written by Stanley Pashko and published by Birk & Company in 1952. It promises in the introduction that "most of the games and ideas in this booklet are brand new, or newly adapted, but an occasional 'oldie' has been included as a reminder that it is still well worth playing."1

So, now the "new" games from this booklet are themselves the "oldies." And the "oldies" from 1952 are "real oldies" now. I'm guessing that many of these will bring back memories for some portion of Papergreat's readers. Please share those memories in the comments!

I'm going to focus on Chapter 3, titled "Fun on Long Trips." In the days before iPads and iPhones and iPods and even Mattel Football, this section deals with "games which require no equipment at all or, at most, very rudimentary equipment such as a pencil and paper."

Eagle Eye: This may be played on any automobile or train trip. Players look out of the window at the passing panorama and watch for specific objects which are not too frequently seen.2 For instance, four-footed animals score one point; red-headed ladies, five points; women carrying babies, five points; a woman looking out a window, ten points. ... A hundred points is game.

[Note: OK, that one got really weird, really fast. Why are these people not driving past fields of cows? That's like 83 points right there. And what's up with the fixation on women? And how many babies, plural, is the woman carrying?? I think my alternate title for this post could have been "Red-headed ladies, five points."]

Poker Face: Each player takes a turn in saying some silly sentence which the others must repeat in turn without smiling. The sole object is to make your sentence so ridiculous that the other players cannot possibly repeat it without breaking out into a smile. You get a point for each player who smiles; so make your sentences good. Some sample sentences are: "I do wish I weren't so utterly, utterly beautiful." "Who put that pickle in my ear?" "Please pass the ketchup, I want to brush my teeth."

[Note: This game is the spiritual ancestor to games like "Make Me Laugh," "Don't Laugh," "The Quiet Game" and, for backseat occupants only, "The Staring Contest."]

Auto License Roulette: Each player selects a number from one to ten. After everyone has chosen a number, wait for the first car to come along. The number on the extreme right-hand side of the license plate determines the winner. The player who scores ten winning numbers first is the winner.

Auto License Golf: The player who has the honors selects a car and writes down the license number as soon as it is visible. His opponent takes the next car. All the numbers in the license are totaled and the player whose total is highest wins the hole. Play 18 holes to determine the champion.

Auto License Bingo: Each player writes down fifteen numbers on a sheet of paper. They may be any numbers from 1 to 99 and a player may list the same number fifteen times if he wishes. After all players have written down their selected numbers, an umpire begins the game by calling out the last two digits on the license plate of each truck or car that passes by, and if the numbers he calls are on the sheets of any of the players, they call out that fact, draw a single line through the lucky number, and show it to the referee for verification.3 The game continues until someone has crossed off five of his numbers. This is considered "bingo" and wins the game. The umpire should jot down each number as he calls it so that the winning card may be checked after the game.

[Notes: 1. Another form of bingo was discussed in this January 2013 post. 2. Today, a fun license plate game for the kids with devices would involve selecting a passing license plate and seeing who can be the first to use public records and cyber-sleuthing to find the Facebook page or Instagram account of the individual to whom the license is registered. Bonus points if you can make digital contact with the person in the other car within 10 minutes. The umpire should make sure no contestants use the dark web. Google only, please.]

Hangman: Draw a scaffold on your sheet of paper. This is merely an inverted "L" from which you will try to hang your opponent.4 Think of a word containing five or more letters and write down as many dashes across the bottom of the sheet as there are letters in your word. Now, your opponent tries to guess what the word is by naming one letter at a time. Every time he guesses a wrong letter you add another section of him to the hanging post. These sections, in the order in which you may draw them are: (1) the head, (2) the neck, (3) the body, (4) the arms, (5), the hands, (6) the legs, (7) the feet, (8) the face (eyes, nose and mouth), (9), the ears, (10) the rope. Thus, if you make ten wrong guesses before you get the complete word you are "hanged" and lose the game. Take turns guessing. As each letter is called, write it down in its proper space if it is in the word. If it is not a part of the word which you have chosen, then you must write it down at the top of the sheet so that your opponent will know which letters have already been selected and will not call them a second time. Some players prefer to keep track of letters by writing down the entire alphabet and drawing a line through each letter as it is called. The illustration shows a game in which the opponent failed to guess that the word was Zephyr.

1. The introduction also uses the word boughten, as in "store boughten equipment," so that makes this an even more endearing piece of ephemera.
2. One thing about iPhones and similar devices that really makes me sad is that people in cars, other than perhaps the driver, rarely look out the window any more. They miss out on the beauty and wonder and diversity and literal cultural signposts that make up our world. How can you come to know the world you live in if you don't observe it? Put down the devices! #CrankyMan
3. How many people are in this car?
4. "Merely."

1 comment:

  1. This makes me want to take a phone-free drive and play games!!