1 EAGLETON NOTES: Memories of Games

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Tuesday, 13 December 2016

Memories of Games

During a certain period of my childhood Saturday night was very habitual. Dad went to the Broadgreen Abbey Hotel to meet some of his friends and Mum and I and younger brother CJ went to our maternal grandmother’s house about 15 minutes walk away. There was no television, of course, so we usually played games: cards or dominoes being the most usual so far as I can recall although we did play some simple board games too like Ludo and Snakes and Ladders. The card games were usually Newmarket, chase the ace and rummy.

I should add that later, until my grandmother came to live with us, Dad or Mum (often accompanied by CJ or I) went to my grandmother's for supper every night around 9pm to check that she was okay.

This was all brought back to mind this week when, having finished a complete refurbishment of the main guest bedroom, I started moving things from their current temporary homes to a new storage place in the bedroom. One of those things was the stock of games I have kept: some of which date back to those days at my grandmother’s.

Almost all the games were inherently 'betting' games (eg Newmarket or chase the ace) and, of course, lives had to be won and lost and scores had to be kept. For that purpose and when playing 'Put and Take' (see the little brass spinner in the beans) we had my grandmother's tin of beans: the St Bruno Flake tin with the very beans we used back then. Later when I had my own family we used the Marmite jar filled with dried fruit stones. I cannot remember when the tiddlywinks first came into the family but, of course, we had some of them (and probably that box) since the '50s anyway.


I used to play rummy, cribbage and dominoes with Dad. I occasionally won at rummy but at the other two Dad was unbeatable. These dominoes are not from that era but Dad made the cribbage board out of a slab of solid brass and the holes were square(ish) to take the Swan Vestas matchsticks Dad used to light his pipe.


In those days Patience was played a great deal as it was until the presence of versions of patience appeared on every mobile device. Generally we used ordinary playing cards but most had 'travel packs' for playing in more confined spaces from one's hospital bed to railway carriages.


As a child I loved draughts (another game that Dad usually dominated in the winning stakes) and chess (a game Dad didn't play). My first chess set was this boxwood Staunton set but when I went into hospital for several longish spells when I was in my mid teens a lady who lived nearby gave me the red-boxed travel set which I used for many many decades. I am astonished that it has survived so well.


Two games my wife and I played were Bezique and Othello


Pass The Pig was a more recent addition to our games. When our son, Andy, was dying in hospital Pass The Pig seemed to be copeable with.

35 comments:

  1. I recall those so well. As a very young youngster 'Put and take' and Newmarket were my favourites. In my married life Backgammon is probably the most important (Jo still owes me a couple of pound from the night before David was born and I have the score card to prove it). Monopoly and Hotel were other family games from early in our marriage with Othello, Trivial Pursuit and, of course, Scrabble more recent ones.

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    1. Just though of another board game we played as youngsters - Chinese Chequers. I still have Mum's set and was surprised to find Jo didn't know it so I taught her it quite recently.

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    2. That's interesting CJ and has also reminded me of things I'd forgotten. I was going to post my picture of what I thought was the Chinese Chequers board of our youth but I forgot. If you have Mum's I wonder which one I have. It's got wooden pegs so is certainly from the early era. I don't recall playing Monopoly as a youngster and since then it has never been a great favourite with me because it can go on for so long. Gaz and I used to play backgammon. I can see us having some interesting evenings when you come up next year.

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  2. A bygone era.... used to love many of those. Pass the Pig was great and I still have it somewhere. I had the exact same travel chess set and used to practice moves for hours. Thanks for the memories!

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    1. It would seem Fiona from comments that that was a very popular travel chess set.

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  3. How wonderful that you still these games and they invoke such fabulous memories. Cards, cribbage, ludo were some of the games we played as well. I have a very similar chess set to you - I got it on the plane when we flew to NZ back in 1973 - they used to give children games them. We also has Pass the Pig.

    When our children were younger (although mostly pre-adoption of the youngest as playing games with him was always fraught!) we used to play games a lot as we don't have a television. Now we still meet up with my Aunt and Uncle on a Sunday evening for a games night although have missed the last couple of months due to various reasons, so must reinstate that as we have a lot of fun and laughs.

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    1. Serenata it is a long time since I played board games other than Monopoly and occasional games of backgammon. Hopefully that will change: I rather fancy getting back to Chinese chequers and backgammon with my brother.

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  4. When my children were still at home, we always played Oh Hell on holidays. A brilliant game, if infuriating. I've since taught it to my grandchildren. My least favourite is Ludo, which seems to go on for ever, closely followed by Monopoly (ditto).

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    1. Frances I've never heard of Oh Hell. Is it a board game or a card game? I didn't mind Ludo but Monopoly has never been a favourite. I don't think it was around when I was a child anyway. We certainly didn't have it. (I've looked it up on Wikipedia and the current version was, in fact, published in 1935).

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    2. Oh Hell is a card game, and can be enjoyed by anyone who can hold a hand of cards (or lay them. somewhere where no one else can see them!). It's brilliant fun. My mother had the answer to Monopoly. She would get sent to jail and stay there, while the rest of us squabbled over hotels on Mayfair. Nobody ever noticed.

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    3. Thanks Frances. I shall look it up. It must be in my Encyclopedia of Card Games.

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  5. A blast from the past for you, no doubt! It is wonderful that all the games have survived in such great condition; with moving house several times and passing the games from one generation to the next this is no mean feat.
    Some of your games I have never heard of, others I have seen mentioned in books, but some I know from my own experience.
    We used to have (it still exists, although I am not sure where exactly - my parents' attic, probably) an old Monopoly set with wooden houses and hotels, and the board glued together a few times. I have never been good at this particular game, as I am mostly way too careful with my money and then end up having to pay exorbitant rents at every step.

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    1. Meike I suspect that your generation didn't play games to the extent that we did simply because there was a lot more around to attract your attention.

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  6. Your topic fits in with christmas as a time when we play games and di jig saw puzzles. You mention some games I've never heard of. You omit my favorite monopoly. another one we played for hours was crokinole. You bring back good memories.

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    1. Red I seem to be in the minority as a non-lover of Monopoly. I had not heard of crokinole. It looks a fascinating game. Jig saw puzzles is a whole new topic!

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  7. It's so nice that you have kept these games for they bring back pleasant memories of past times. How different winter nights must have been with no telly blaring away - taking us away from ourselves.

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    1. Yes they were very different YP and I'm wondering if I can resurrect a little bit of what was so enjoyable then.

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  8. How lovely to have discovered all those games Graham. Happy memories.

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    1. Perhaps, Pat, one day we three will try a game of something. After all Strictly ends tomorrow (until next Autumn).

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  9. In my family we used to play a lot of board games and card games too. I don't know all of those you mention though - don't think I ever heard of Newmarket, Chase the Ace, Bezique or Pass the Pig for example! All four of used to play Ludo, dominoes, card games, Monopoly, Trivial Pursuit, Yatzy, Chinese chequers, Scrabble (we had both the Swedish equivalent, and one in English, bought on one of our holidays)... Dad also taught me chess but I never got very good at it (i.e. I rarely won) With mum I used to play Othello.

    That box of dominoes looks very familiar... Had to go check... Yes, I have the same one! (with the exact print on the lid) I don't remember if it's the box we had in my childhood or perhaps I bought it later. But I've had it for decades.

    I did not keep the games collection from mum and dad's house, as I rarely have anyone to play with now. But I still have that domino box, a small chess set or two, and also a box I bought some time with six different board games in one, including Ludo and checkers (which I'm not sure I ever played) and backgammon (which I've only played a few times at my brother's, long time ago).

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    1. That's a very comforting comment Monica. It's a shame we don't live nearer!

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  10. During my childhood we didn't spend much times on card or board games although early in my marriage I was introduced to card games and, in the days before TV, enjoyed many evenings playing 500. As the men in the games were miners who honed their skills during smoko breaks underground, it didn't do to bid frivolously. I've never heard of some games you mention and not played most of the ones I have heard have. Georgia used to love to play cards (and still does) and taught me to play Oh Hell, which Frances mentioned. My children played Monopoly and Scrabble a lot. I joined them for Scrabble but was always "too busy" to play Monopoly as I found it terribly boring.

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    1. Pauline I'm with you on the subject of Monopoly. It really used to do my head in.

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  11. Your small chess set reminds me of one I have back in an English loft that was made by a prisoner of war in Germany (my uncle). I lost one of the pawns, so carved a replacement when I was ill in bed many years ago. It's something I really treasure.

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    1. Cro you remind me that a talented artist in one field is so often talented in many.

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  12. Lovely to see a cribbage board again. I have two, once my late husband's. Like your Dad he was unbeatable. probably why i never learnt to play it properly!

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    1. Nancy I was going to say that it's a shame you didn't learn to play it properly when I realised that it's so long since I played Cribbage that I can't remember how to play it.

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  13. These are all wonderful - and not a battery in sight!

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    1. Absolutely Ian. As you say no batteries and no electricity. In fact in my maternal grandparents' house there was no electricity when I was a sprog. There were chandeliers and many 'modern' conveniences but all were powered by gas (except the radio which was powered by an accumulator). There was even a huge vacuum cleaner but it was powered by muscles.

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  14. We used to play games at Christmas with Rob's sister and her family. A particular favourite of hers was Newmarket. It was noisy -- and exhausting! But it filled the hours between the meals! Hope you have a wonderful Christmas, GB, and a very happy New Year. xoxo DeeDee/Carol/Canadian Chickadee

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    1. Thank you DeeDee. I wish you a wonderful Christmas too.

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  15. My dad tried to teach me backgammon but it never really sank into the grey matter. Mrs. RWP and I played only a game or two of Monopoly, but she was too ruthless at it for me and we left it alone. Did you have Clue or Life? They're fun. With our grandchildren we have played Skip-Bo, Uno, Scrabble, Phase 10, Tri-ominos, Blokus, and Mexican Train Dominos. You have stirred up the memories with this post.

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    1. Many many apologies Bob. I've only just seen your comment sitting in my moderation folder. I've not heard of Clue but we did play a card game called Life although my memory of it is very sketchy. Uno is another one I've heard of and I had a set of Tri-ominos in New Zealand but I don't see it amongst my games here so I obviously left it there.

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