Monday 24 September 2018

Poetry Monday: Games

It's Poetry Monday, and today's topic is "games we liked to play."

Join Diane, Delore and me as we play "the poetry game" and reminisce about other games we have enjoyed. If you'd like, you can leave a poem in the comments, or, if you prefer to post on your own blog, please let us know in the comments so we can come along and cheer you on. You can use the topic, or veer off course, as I ended up doing today. The object is to write and to have fun.


When I was a kid we didn't have computers or video games. I had a wind-up doll with a music box inside, but that was as advanced as toys got at that time. I'm sure there are a few of you who can relate to that quieter time in life.

And so we had to occupy ourselves in other ways. Among those ways were indoor games.

I liked board games all right, but I rarely had anyone to play with except my only sibling. My brother was four years my senior, but not old enough to have a particle of empathy or sympathy or any other mpathy for his little sister. His favourite game was Monopoly, he was always the Banker, and I always lost. I might still have Monopoly Resentment. (Blogging as therapy! Boo yah!)

We also played a lot of card games. In those I had a much better chance to win. Go Fish depended mostly on luck, as did Crazy Eights, and even Solitaire. (So why did my brother still beat me most of the time?)

Then one summer a cousin introduced us to the card game Cheat. The objective of this game is to be the first to get rid of all your cards, which usually requires you to cheat blatantly and get away with it.

The rules, as I remember them, were: cards were dealt face down equally to all players until the deck was gone; players took turns placing cards from their hand face down on the table; the first person said/played aces, the next player said/played twos, the next, threes, etc.; if you didn't have the card you needed you had to cheat (use a different card); if you wanted to get rid of cards quickly, you needed to cheat (play cards that weren't what you said they were). Other players could call "cheat" if they suspected  cheating was going on. If they called it right, the player who cheated had to pick up all the cards on the table. If they called it wrong, the player who incorrectly called "cheat" had to pick them all up.

Amazingly, I was very good at this game. Maybe I had a poker face, or an innocent face, or maybe my brother was exceptionally bad at reading faces. I don't know. But being able to win often at this game made me feel very good indeed.

Never mind that it meant I was good at cheating, something I knew was bad and unfair the rest of the time. It was heady fun to have a game where the forbidden was not only allowed, it was encouraged.

I've pretty well explained in prose about the game I liked to play, so for my poem this week I'm heading off on a tangent inspired by my memories, to talk about growing up with an older sibling. (One explanation: our parents both worked, thus the reference to the sitter. It was somewhat uncommon for the 1950's and early 1960's, at least in our community.)

* * * * *

Dear Brother

Oh Brother of mine - who'll always be
The oldest and best and ahead of me -
You were first to the sitter and first to school;
First to have teachers and first to have rules;
First to be tapped to do chores in our home;
First to find work and have cash of your own;
First with a license to drive, and a car;
First to move out and first to move far;
First to get married and first to have kids -
Blazing the trail for your younger sib.
The four years between us so often seemed more.
The things that I liked, you had aged to abhor.
I was too young for you, you were too old for me.
At times we did nothing but fight constantly.

But now we are older and do not compete;
We've both had our share of life's joys and defeats.
We do not live close to each other, it's true,
And emails and telephone calls are too few.
But I know I can count on you having my back,
And sharing the load when life's on the attack.
Our outlooks and interests still seem far apart,
And yet we've found ways to be closer in heart.
So here's to my big bro, a friend like no other,
The one person on earth to share my dad and mother.

Looks innocent enough, doesn't he?


What games did you play when you were young?

Update:  Next week's topic is "harvest" . . .


River said...

Games? I used to read books instead. My brother played Monopoly with his friend and the friend's siblings, the friend owned the game, we didn't own any board games back then. hen I had children later, we all played Monopoly and scrabble. When we weren't all reading books instead.

Elephant's Child said...

There is eight years between me and the youngest of my brothers (and ten and twelve years between me and the older pair). I so relate to your preamble and your poem.
We played board games occasionally. Cards more often. I was an excellent cheat. And not bad at Rickety Kate, euchre and 500 Hundred.

dinthebeast said...

It rains a lot where I grew up, and I do remember some board games like Monopoly, but we played card games more often. Rummy was a favorite.
My grandparents on my mother's side used to play dominoes, but us kids were not allowed to participate, making it all the more mysterious and inviting.
Later in life, read that my twenties, I used to play spades kind of a lot, which was more interesting because you have partners to work with, and as we were in Humboldt County, strategic deployment of high-grade marijuana often figured in to the game planning. But the key word there is strategic, because a game of spades will grind to a halt when the players can't remember which cards of which suit have already been played.
I got my first motorcycle (mini-bike) at age eight, so my recreational attention was dominated by them all through my childhood and adolescence, only to be replaced by the electric guitar a bit later, so I missed a bunch of the kinds of games played by my classmates in school, but I remember playing Risk a few times, and I was never any good at poker or blackjack, but I did play them occasionally.
Oh yeah, and ping-pong. My racing partner had a table on his parents' veranda where we could play even if it was raining a little, and the tournaments were just like you'd imagine them between boys who competed on motorcycles for fun...

-Doug in Oakland

Yorkshire Pudding said...


When the fat kid came from London
We tried to make him cry
Blubbering in the playground
We hoped that he might die.
Joyce and Linda's pigtails
Were always there to pull
Riding on the country bus
That carried us to Hull
And when a fight broke out
On the field behind the school
We bayed for blood and broken teeth
For the games we played were cruel!

P.S. It wasn't really like that - well maybe a little bit. I have applied "poetic licence".
P.P.S. I enjoyed your ode to your brother. It's a shame he doesn't live closer.

Marie Smith said...

The distance you describe applies to me and my four and a half year old younger brother. The age difference was enough so that we grew up with different friends, interests etc.

I feel the same as you do. He’s the only one in the world I share that history with. He’s pretty special.

37paddington said...

This post brings up memories! We played monopoly as a family, games that would last all weekend, starting on friday night and resumed each morning till monday. In retrospect, i think my mother, who owned a real estate company with her brother, was trying to teach us about real estate and finances. I loved those games, though as I recall whoever got Park Place and Mayfair won, so I guess I was learning about the way society is stacked economically, too. We also played a lot of cards. In high school there was a lightening fast game called Spit that we used to play on the desks between classes. Ah, memories.

only slightly confused said...

He does look innocent doesn't he? The hairdo hides the horns no doubt lol. We did come from an amazing era didn't we?

Joan (Devon) said...

Loved your poem and it's so true about big brothers as I have one too and I also have a younger brother. There is only 21 months between my big brother and I so not much of a difference, but my younger brother is three years younger than me, not much between him and me, but nearly five years between eldest and youngest and if I remember rightly they were always arguing. Anyway onto the poem.

Games We Played

Robin Hood and his Merry Men,
King Arthur and his Knights,
Cowboys and Indians,
Were some of our playful fights.

My brothers and I had freedom,
To wander as we could.
Taking care to stick together,
When venturing through the wood.

There we found our weapons,
For bows, arrows and swords.
Taking from the forest floor,
To replenish our armoury hoards.

Then all that we needed,
Was some string to make a bow
And a nail to make a cross-piece,
For a sword to be held, you know.

I'm older now and times have changed,
For children everywhere.
There's so little outdoor playing,
Without supervised parental care.

Those were the days!

Have a good week Jenny, take care.

Red said...

We did play board games but since we were on a farm we mostly played outside. Many times we were far away from the yard. We were close in age so were much more of a group except for my youngest brother who was 15 years younger.

Starting Over, Accepting Changes - Maybe said...

What a handsome boy your brother was!

We played pretty much the same games as you did, Jenny. I think my favorite card game was Old Maid. There was always a lot of laughter in that one. Chinese Checkers was another favorite. I was a middle child, with an older sister and a younger brother, all of us two years apart (Another sister came along 12 years later). I had little chance of winning anything. Like you, my brother does not live close by, but I adore him and wish I could have the time with him to play those games again. I would not mind when he wins (as he usually did), but it would be great if I did.

Diane Stringam Tolley said...

Glorious, Jenny! Just glorious!

Diane Stringam Tolley said...

Picture perfect! And Sadly, so true! So we write about our childhoods!

Diane Stringam Tolley said...

Yikes, YP! Glad to know there was some poetic license! :)

jenny_o said...

You passed on your good reading habits to your kids!

jenny_o said...

I haven't heard of Rickety Kate; now I'm intrigued!

I'm glad I'm not the only "good" cheater :)

jenny_o said...

Would "smashing" be a good word to describe them?? If not, fill me in, because I got nuthin' else :)

I never really understood the attraction of dominoes, but maybe that's because I never played until I was old, old, old. It didn't seem there was much challenge to it! LOL on the spades games :)

jenny_o said...

Some kids do play cruel games. It seems there are always one or two, at least, in a grade. Which I am sure you know better than most, having taught for a long time.

jenny_o said...

Thanks for contributing, YP.

jenny_o said...

That one big thing in common - the growing up years - can bridge a big gap in interests, eh? I'm glad you have that with your brother.

jenny_o said...

Actually, there's a lot that can be learned from games, isn't there? I'll have to look up Spit! We had one called Snap that we played at school. Wonder if they're the same thing!

jenny_o said...

Nope, they're different :)

jenny_o said...

LOL! Yes to everything you said :)

jenny_o said...

I remember making bows and arrows, too - it's a wonder we still have any eyes :) Thank you for contributing, Joan.

jenny_o said...

Wow, fifteen years is pretty much an insurmountable gap, as far as playing together goes. He'd be more like an only child for most of his life.

On a farm there's always something to do.

jenny_o said...

I think kids, like adults, looked better in those days because they dressed up for special occasions!

There seemed to be so many hours to fill when we were kids . . . I wish time worked the same way now. Maybe next time you see your brother you can play something for old times' sake.

jenny_o said...

Thanks, Diane - it was a great topic, thanks for that, too! Heading over to read your poem now :)

dinthebeast said...

Yeah, I played dominoes in rehab from my stroke and decided it definitely wasn't the game that was so inviting, it was the conversation between my grandparents and their friends.
Smashing works as good as anything else I can think of, especially since Rod, my racing partner, was 6'10" tall.
And I did forget one thing- I was on a bowling league for a couple of years and did OK.

-Doug in Oakland

Martha said...

This was fun! Brought back memories from my own childhood. We spent most of our time outdoors, but when we were inside (rain, freezing cold, etc.), we played some board games with neighbourhood friends. Games like Monopoly, The Game of Life, Battleship and a few others. I never actually cheated (or I'll never admit to it) :)

jenny_o said...

6'10" - definitely not vertically challenged and definitely able to smash the table tennis ball :)

Bowling is fun. I don't think my knees could take it these days.

jenny_o said...

I only cheated at Cheat! (Honest!)

baili said...

Dearest Jenny!

I LOVED this post

yes when we say "games" endless chain of memories pull our hearts

your words are touching when you talk about your brother :)

i bet inspite of all fighting you guys did you were best friends!

i really wish i can see your pic my friend ,and thank you for this precious photo of your brother who looks really cute and soooo adorable!

i can guess that you have beautiful adorable face too :)))

we belong to period when games were simple and were played by heart

having family of dolls and arranging their weddings making house of sticks and mud for them and cooking in tiny pot by making tiny stove with small rocks

ah that still refreshes my soul

i am too sacrificing while playing with family members and hubby and kids get so irritated when i loose deliberately:(

i so loved this poetic tribute to your brother !
you are beautiful poet indeed!
Blessings and hugs!

Chickens Consigliere said...

Love that poem and your brother has a sweet face. We played a lot of games. It went through phases. Monopoly was a phase, Trouble was a favorite, Chinese Checkers, The Game of Life, Clue...if there’s a game that personifies our family, it is probably Scrabble and my step mom and younger brother are the masters of it.

jenny_o said...

Thank you, baili; you are always so encouraging and kind!

I don't have to pretend to lose to my kids anymore because I can't win even when I try - ha ha!

I played with dolls a lot, too, doing the very things you describe. I think those are universal games for some little girls :)

jenny_o said...

Hey, Chickie! Glad to see you and your post!

Scrabble . . . I have mixed feelings about that game. I used to like it, but now everybody in my family can beat me and it's no fun anymore :) Actually it seems like there is more than vocabulary needed, to do well at it. Whatever the other elusive quality is, I don't have it.

John M said...

I love your poem.

jenny_o said...

Thank you!

LL Cool Joe said...

What a lovely tribute to your brother! I have an older brother too and we have nothing in common, well apart from an abusive mother, snd that seems to be the one thing that is our connection.

jenny_o said...

Childhood, good or bad, can be that connection, right? I wish every child could have a happy upbringing.

Janie Junebug said...

I love your brother poem. I had numerous siblings so we played a lot of board games and played with dolls together. I was the youngest so it was hard for me as they grew up and didn't want to play anymore.


jenny_o said...

I can imagine how lonely it must have been to see them all go off to their own interests.

How are you doing these days, Janie? Hope everything is settling down health-wise.

Steve Reed said...

I've never heard of cheat! We played a lot of cards -- Spades and Hearts and even Canasta (when I was a teenager). Weirdly, around the time I went to college I lost interest in cards completely. I never play cards now. Maybe I'll start again someday!

jenny_o said...

I don't play now, either. Somehow there doesn't seem to be much point to it!

Diane Henders said...

Aw, I like your ode to your big bro! :-) Cheat sounds like great fun, but I can't remember playing it as a kid. Makes me want to play it now, though!

jenny_o said...

I bet it would be right up your alley - it can be a hilarious game! No serious players allowed :)

Mr. Shife said...

I played baseball a lot. Probably a little soccer too. The board game that comes to mind is Sorry and Life. I enjoyed the poem to your brother. Very nicely done.

Chickens Consigliere said...

Ha. You’re absolutely right. It’s mastery of the two and three letter words as well as point maximization. I used to be really good at it. You also really have to want to win. My husband, who has excellent spelling vocabulary skills, doesn’t understand the strategy and doesn’t have the drive to win. I can take him every time:-)

Chickens Consigliere said...

Btw where your Friday blog post? I finally feel like I can breathe again. I need me some blog posts to read!

jenny_o said...

Haha - I relate to your husband's frame of mind. I didn't get the competitive gene :)

Friday blog posts went the way of the dinos. I was struggling to write so decided to stick to poems on Mondays with the option to post randomly otherwise. I knew it would turn out the way it has (i.e., I'm not doing anything but Monday posts) but SURELY I will feel more energetic one of these days. I hope.

If you can breathe again, Missy, YOU WRITE THE BLOG POSTS!! lol Do you take requests??

jenny_o said...

Sports are really important for a lot of kids, and good for them, too.

I think we've covered all kinds of games here in the comments!