The $1.99 Career Change?

As usual, I spotted a retro game at the thrift store and had to spend a whopping $1.99 — and make someone play it. This time the game was Parker Brothers’ Careers and the victim was the husband, Derek. Fortunately, the only pieces missing were two dice — and, after lengthy searching, I was able to remedy that so we could play. (No one escaped playing games with me that easily!)

retro-parker-brothers-careers-game-box

Unlike the What Shall I Be? games by Selchow & Righter Co., this game isn’t so much about the rah-rah-sis-boom-bah “you can be anything you want to be” as it is about the “success formula.”

Instead of exploring career options and considering the education and work involved in landing that dream job, Parker Brothers Career Game reminds game players that success not only is about the games we play, but that one can actually define their success. I’m not just waxing poetic; it’s right there on the game’s box: “Fame… Fortune… Happiness… The Choice is yours in Parker Brothers game of Careers.” (Parker Brothers even registered it’s board game and equipment trademark under the “Fame, Fortune and Happiness.”)

Game play seems a bit complicated (there’s not only a set of instructions, but what we’d now call an FAQ printed inside the game box) and might be a bit intimidating at the start (hubby & I were awfully glad we hadn’t opened any wine coolers to drink while playing), but once you set up the board & roll the dice, it’s much easier than all the type implies.

careers-instructions

Like Monopoly, you begin at start and get paid every time you pass it; unlike Monopoly, this game doesn’t need to be all about money, for before you roll the dice, each player sets their own goals.

Each player must define their own idea of success by designating their individual Success Formula — and actual equation by which they will win. While each player must get 60 points, they may divide their points up, in any way, between the three categories of Fame (stars), Fortune (money – each $1,000 being 1 point) & Happiness (hearts). Since we were a bit bewildered at first, we just guessed numbers to fill in the blanks. Hubby went for the mathematical “divided by three” and gave himself a goal of of 20 each. I went for $30,000 (30 points), and 15 each for Fame & Happiness.

careers-score-cards

The you move around the board, based on the number of spaces the dice rolls tell you & the information based on the cards you get, and the directions on the spaces themselves. Along the way you have options to pay for publicity (earning Fame Stars), gamble in the stock market & at Las Vegas (earning money), and spend time in Paris and Hawaii (earning Happiness Hearts) — again, if you have the money to spend on such things. Of course, just as with real life, you may also fall prey to hospital stays, unemployment, taxes & rent.

You earn college degrees & work experience by following the individual career paths (using only one die for those areas). Some of the career paths offer more money to earn, raises in salary (what you earn each time you pass “start”), Fame & Happiness points, as well as “Opportunity Knocks” and “Experience” cards.

careers-game-board-1979

In this game, your specific career paths are limited to Big Business, Politics, Show Biz, Sports and Space; which sort of parallels the pop culture ideas of careers in the late 70’s. (More on that here.) Navigating the side trip career paths which offer the best possibilities for your self-created Success Formula is how you attempt to control your destiny. Want more money in your pocket? Try Sports (it apparently brings lots of Happiness too). Want pay raises? Try Big Business. Politics and Space bring the most Fame; Show Biz is one of the shortest career paths, but you can find some Money and Happiness there too. But it won’t be easy…

Not only must you rely on the roll of the dice to bring you to your hopeful career path, the luck of Opportunity Knocks cards, and avoid the treachery of not only spaces but other player’s actions “bumping” you into Unemployment, but you will need to pay your way into each career, have the proper college degree &/or work experience to get into each career. Since Derek had some poor luck of the dice early on, he was unable enter any careers for quite awhile, forcing him to stay on the outside tack and pay taxes etc., prompting hit to comment that this game was a lesson in “no matter how hard you try, if you don’t start with enough money, you’re doomed.”

Real life? Meh. I’m more of an optimist.

But then, I did win.

We think.

Seems Derek, the one reading the instructions, misunderstood the difference between “Money” and “Pay” on the score pads, resulting in the mistaken notion that your Pay needed to reach the same amount of Money in your equation (it doesn’t; Money equals cash you have in hand). So at that time, since I had gobs of money, I was declared the winner.

The irony of two Bohemian “creative types” screwing up the money component of the equation was not lost on us.

Overall, I think it’s a very cool game. But then, maybe my standards are low; I just love board games & when they are “old” I’m twice as happy to play them.

The game has many variations (you know I looked ’em all up!), some of which are very cool; others nauseating. The worst of which came in 1990 when Parker Brothers thought a hot pink pandering Careers for Girls board game would profit big time.

careers-for-girls-1990

The career paths girls could travel in this game were schoolteacher, rock star, fashion designer, college graduate, supermom, and animal doctor. And the game’s strategy was greatly simplified — because females can’t be bothered by adhering to strategy; we’re restricted to the whims of our biology, emotional whims, and itty-bitty brains. (Heck, we don’t even know what a veterinarian is; we use “animal doctor.”) So, to keep us entertained and flushed as pink as the game’s box, players were asked to perform dopey things like “Describe your dream husband” & “Show us how you dance with your main squeeze.”

When Susan Engeleiter, head of the U.S. Small Business Administration, caught wind of this game, she knew it was more than hot air — it came from Parker Brother’s derrière. This is how she responded:

Engeleiter said she was amazed the game didn’t include such careers as business executives, government leaders, astronauts, scientists or moms without the prefix “super.” “Parker Brothers is sending the wrong message to young girls,” she said. “Even Barbie dolls come with business suits these days.” Then she added, “I am raising my daughter to believe there are no limits on career choices for women. If the Parker ‘Brothers’ were the Parker ‘Sisters’ this game would never have passed ‘Go.'”

In response, Parker Brothers’ spokeswoman (note: that’s not company “super spokeswoman”) Patricia McGovern stressed the game is purely for entertainment and “is certainly not to communicate that only certain careers are limited to women,” adding that the game was designed by a woman, art was managed by a woman and the product manager was a
woman. (No word on how many of those women threw-up Pepto-Bismol, hence the game’s profuse pinkosity.)

But you know what? I want them all the versions of this game — including the nauseating “girls version,” because it’s part of our history. Let’s hope I can find the other versions of this game at my local thrift stores.

When Does It Become Too Hot To Operate A Model Railroad? (Or, Taking A Ride On A Model Train To Meet The Emperor of Death Valley)

When does it become too hot to operate a model railroad?

When the thermometer reaches 160 degrees.

So said T.R. Goodwin, superintendent of Death Valley National Monument — and model railroad enthusiast — in that oh-so priceless March 1951 issue of Profitable Hobbies Magazine. (Click to read the large scan.)

model-trains-1951

But the story doesn’t end there. Well, it probably does for most people; but I’m one of those obsessives, remember? I find one (admittedly amusing) article, and I have to find out more.

(Here’s where I recommend you have a beverage & settle in to read. This 1950’s article about a man and his model train set is better than Mister Rogers’ trolley taking you to the Neighborhood of Make-Believe; Goodwin’s train, said to be the only train for 145 miles — and probably long neglected by now if parts of it even exist — takes you back in time.)

While the heat standard for model railroad use set by Goodwin in 1951 should speak for itself, the official hottest temperature recorded for Death Valley is listed as 134° (in July, 1913, at what is now Furnace Creek Ranch). But, that really doesn’t matter much to me; frankly, when the temp reaches 125, most all of my hobbies would cease — as would my breathing, probably. Anyway, I was now left to research T. R. Goodwin himself.

The short article in Profitable Hobbies Magazine says that “Mr. Goodwin opened Death Valley as a national monument under the jurisdiction of the National Park Service in 1933. Since that time he has watched his barren domain grow rapidly in importance as a tourist attraction.” So I thought there would be a rather large amount of information on Goodwin. But I was wrong.

It’s disappointing to find so little on Goodwin; not just because I’m obsessive, but because from what I can piece together, the man plays important roles in US history. And why shouldn’t he? As Superintendent of The Death Valley National Monument, T.R. Goodwin, was called “Emperor of Death Valley” in Harry Oliver‘s Desert Rat Scrap Book (Packet Three, Pouch Four, 1950, page 3, “The Mail Pouch”), saying, “Though his majesty rules an area larger than some of our states with considerable more power than any Governor, it is whispered that his highness has to swat his own Vinegarones and take his own pet tortoise out for a run.”

Homey & humorous, yes; full of yesteryear’s non-pc protocol, sure. But knowing that Goodwin was in charge of nearly two million acres, you have to consider the truth of it too.

harry-olivers-desert-rat-scrap-book-1950

While the discovery of the Desert Rat Scrap Books (which are full of charming & inappropriate old stories — including many attributed to Goodwin) would be a delightful enough conclusion (or, more accurately, a lovely collection pursuit), there is far more. If you are willing to devote hours, days to researching Goodwin. And I am. (Need to replenish your beverage yet?)

At first the info is sketchy. The “T.R.” in T.R. Goodwin stands for Theodore Raymond Goodwin. He served in the Spanish-American War, lost his first wife after just a few years of marriage, and RootsWeb says that T.R. Goodwin was the brother of noted western artist Philip R. Goodwin.

f-b-thurber-tr-goodwin-tf-day-1910-1915

There’s a Death Valley ’49ers “Keepsake” booklet on T.R. Goodwin, published in 1978 — but apparently long out of print. (I’ve ordered a copy & will share what I can.)

theodore-r-goodwin-by-ardis-m-walker-horace-m-albright-and-ron-miller

Until I get the book, this is what I’ve been able to piece together.

While Goodwin may have been the first official superintendent, his gig didn’t start until 1938, according to the National Park Service. Officially, the Death Valley National Monument was established by President Herbert Hoover on February 11, 1933 and John R. White was the acting superintendent, starting on March 16, 1933, until April 14, 1938; then Goodwin took over on April 15th as the official superintendent.

death-valley-national-monument-map-1934

According to NPS administrative history information, Goodwin seems to have appeared on the government parks scene sometime prior to 1928, when he was the director or roadwork done in the Cold Spring, Anna Spring Plaza, Anna Spring Dam, and the Rim Village area.

Three park roads received surfacing/oil processing treatment in 1928 under the direction of T.R. Goodwin, a road oiling expert loaned to the National Park Service by the California State Highway Commission.

Goodwin must have loved the area & the people, because before he was established as superintendent Goodwin wrote an article (“Park Ranger Believes Early White History Lies Behind Sealed Lips of Red Man Of The Desert,” Inyo Independent, 29 October 1937) on the Indians of the region, “and in so doing attempted to delineate some of the relationships.” He & his writings on Native Americans was written about as well. Perhaps care & concern for the people and land is what got him the superintendent gig rather than his construction skills — or willingness to put up with the heat of Death Valley.

Among the John P. Harrington papers (from 1907 – 1959) held at the Smithsonian Institution, are letters between Harrington, the American linguist and ethnologist who specialized in the native peoples of California, and Goodwin. These letters, dated May of 1946, show Harrington preparing for a field visit to study the Death Valley Indians.

JPH to Goodwin, May 11, 1946:

The writer is Ethnologist in the Bureau of American Ethnology, Smithsonian Institution, and wants to make a study of the Death Valley Indians. I understand that the Indian Village in Death Valley is 30 miles from your Park Headquarters – in which direction and how reached? Is this village at Death Valley Junction? Any information that you give me will be greatly appreciated. It may be that it is too late in the season to visit this Village for I am told that the Indians of it repair to remote places in the mountains during the summer months. I could come in the fall. There must be some Indian who would be a good interpreter or informant – what is the name of such a one, or better the names of several. They say that only the northern part of the Panamint Mountains belonged to the Death Valley Indians, that is, to the Shoshoni Indians, and that the southern part of the Panamint Mountains belonged to the Chemehuevi Indians. That would make it that there are two languages spoken at the Village. Or has the Chemehuevi language retreated – to where? Where was the line? Or was it the Serrano language of the Tehachapi Mountains instead of the Chemehuevi language? Who were the Panamint Indians – did they talk Chemehuevi? Who were the Pitant Indians? Who were the Keits Indians?

Goodwin to JPH, May 15, 1946:

With reference to your letter of May 1[1], 1946…

Most, if not all, the Indians move to the high country in the summer returning after gathering pinon nuts in the early fall. Practically all the males speak good english and one in particular Tom Wilson who is half breed Piute with a Mexican father, is married to the daughter of the former Chief Hungry Bill. Tom is intelligent and speaks excellent english.

I have never heard of any territorial division of the Death Valley Indians. They are supposed to be an off-shoot of the Shoshone tribe. . . . The Death Valley Indians are called Panamint Indians and all live here except for a few around Beatty, Nevada and one family in the Panamint Valley. They are not wards but are under general supervision of the Carson Agency at Stewart, Nevada. All the other Indians I know of surrounding the area are Piutes and said to be tribal enemies of the Panamints.

JPH to Goodwin, May 20, 1946:

Your extraordinarily kind letter, full of information, has arrived and I am surely glad that I wrote you before coming. Several of the matters that you state perplex me.

A Chemehuevi (Piute) Indian told me that the Panamint Indians speak the Piute language; that the northern part of the Panamint Range was held by another kind of Indians, an off-variety of the Shoshones, whom a Panamint Indian can not understand; that way north of these quasi-Shoshones there lives another kind of Piutes known as the Northern Piutes, who speak another non-intelligible language — that same one that is spoken by the Bannock Indians, in southern Oregon, at Carson City, Nev., at Bishop, Calif., etc.

Thanks a million times over for telling me about Mr. Tom Wilson – is he still at Furnace Creek? How could I write to him? He would perhaps instantly know about this Shoshone-Panamint mix-up. Isn’t there any place that one could board at Furnace Creek though the Inn is closed? It may be going to require Indians to straighten this matter out. . . .

Goodwin to JPH, May 27, 1946:

Replying to your letter of May 20, 1946, you apparently have certain information that has never been brought out here, although we have had close touch with the Indians in this vicinity over a period of thirteen years. . . .

While there’s a certain level of condescension in referring to a “half breed” as “intelligent,” one must remember that in 1946 “Injuns” had it far worse. It was a different time & place, and Goodwin was living in The West, among such characters as Walter Scott aka Death Valley Scotty, one of the rough-riders for the Buffalo Bill Wild West Show turned prospectors who built Scotty’s Castle.

trgoodwinandscottydeathvalley

Tribute to Goodwin’s own intelligence can be found in history books: He is called “a more sympathetic Park Service official” in Forgotten Tribes: Unrecognized Indians and the Federal Acknowledgment Process by author Mark Edwin Miller, and in Death Valley (Images of America: California), author Robert P. Palazzo says Goodwin was “instrumental in taking up the cause of the Timbisha to prevent their removal from the monument.”

In the correspondence between Goodwin & Harrington, I am particularly amused by the polite perplexed assertions each professional makes as they defend their information about the Timbisha Shoshone people; especially how Goodwin, a former road oiling man turned government administrator, holds his own against Harrington, the bookish linguist and ethnologist.

Gawd – I love old letters like this.

But Goodwin’s story doesn’t end here either.

During World War II Japanese-Americans had it as bad as Native Americans. Not just racist Asian humor, but in removal from their homes. Ten camps on US soil imprisoned over 110,000 Japanese American citizens and resident Japanese aliens during WWII — one of which was Manzanar. A place already with a long history of forced relocated peoples. (I swear my history books & lectures never really imparted this knowledge to me; nor had I ever grasped the concurrent plight of Japanese Americans & Native Americans. And, if that doesn’t blow your mind, consider that Ansel Adams was at Manzanar taking photographs.)

In December 1942, a riot broke out at Manzanar War Relocation Camp. This became known as The Manzanar “Incident.”

On December 6, 1942, one of the most serious civil disturbances to occur at all the relocation centers erupted at Manzanar. Months of internal tension and gang activity had raged between members of the Japanese American Citizens League (JACL) and many of the first-generation Japanese. Although the JACL leaders acted as representatives to the administration, the elders did not share their views and had little respect for them. Meetings turned into shouting sessions with beatings and death threats against the pro-administration group.

On the night of December 5, six masked men beat JACL leader Fred Tayama while he was in his bed. The leader of the Kitchen Workers Union, Harry Ueno, was arrested for the beating and jailed in the nearby town of Independence despite a lack of conclusive evidence. The next day about 2,000 internees gathered in support of Ueno, and a “committee of five” was selected to negotiate his release. Center Director Ralph Merritt attempted to talk with the agitated crowd and subsequently agreed to bring Ueno back to the relocation center jail to avoid further violence or bloodshed.

…By evening, the soldiers who were stationed in front of the building drew a line in the sand but the hostile protesters surged closer. The crowd became extremely unruly and tear gas was used to break up the demonstration. Although no orders were given to shoot, soldiers fired into the crowd, and a 17- year old was killed and eleven others were wounded. One of the wounded died later on December 11.

Protesters who were considered troublemakers were removed from the camp and held in local jails. Those who were U.S. citizens went to a WRA isolation center at Moab and non-U.S. citizens were sent to Department of Justice camps. Most work, except oil delivery and kitchen crews, was suspended by the administration until after Christmas. By early January 1943, the camp’s operations fully resumed, and schools reopened on January 10.

But what of Tayama & others who were attacked and threatened? Here’s more of the story of Manzanar:

On Sunday night and Monday, December 6 and 7, threats were made against many evacuees at Manzanar who were outspoken pro-American advocates or who were perceived to have pro-WRA administration sentiments. Those threatened included staff members of the Manzanar Free Press, members of the internal security police force, and evacuees who had supervisory jobs in the center. Many of these evacuees, including Tayama, Tanaka, and Slocum, had been active members of the Japanese American Citizens League prior to evacuation, and many had encouraged evacuee cooperation with the government’s relocation policies. John Sinoda, a 25-year-old Kibei who held a key position in the camp’s employment office, was severely beaten by a gang with clubs at the outdoor theater, receiving scalp lacerations. Others were assaulted, including George Kurata, the camp housing coordinator, who managed to escape from his attackers. [49] By Monday noon, approximately 40 evacuees had entered the camp Administration Building, asking for protection and indicating that they were afraid to remain in their barracks. The administration also aided removal from the barracks those evacuees whose names appeared on the dissidents’ blacklists and deathlists. Thus, the number of evacuees taken into protective custody by the camp administration subsequently increased to 65 individuals.

The evacuees in protective custody slept on cots in the Administration Building at night and were crowded into a room in one of the military barracks in the military police compound south of the camp during the day. There was insufficient room for all of them, however, and they were forced to take turns “in getting warm.” They were fed in the kitchen in the military police compound. [50]

Faced with the dilemma of protecting the 65 people, Merritt and his staff immediately began a search for a place outside of Manzanar to house them on a temporary basis. Merritt and Brown had been associated with T. R. Goodwin, Superintendent of Death Valley National Monument, during their days with the Inyo-Mono Associates as well as the Citizens Committee established by the military to ease public relations for the camp with the Owens Valley residents following evacuation. Thus, Merritt sent Brown to Death Valley to inquire as to whether the national monument had any place to house the people. Goodwin offered the abandoned Cow Creek Civilian Conservation Camp, comprised of 16 deteriorating buildings adjacent to the monument’s headquarters. After considerable discussion and clearance was received from WRA Director Myer and General DeWitt, the 65 evacuees, who became known as “refugees,” were sent to Cow Creek on December 10.

…The Cow Creek camp was administered by Camp Director Albert Chamberlain, a WRA employee, and Fred Tayama was elected unofficial “mayor” by the refugees. The WRA staff, evacuees, and soldiers shared the same latrines and showers and ate at the same times in the mess hall which was supplied from Manzanar. After improving their quarters and the grounds of the camp, the evacuee men, needing something to do with their time and appreciative of the hospitality shown by the National Park Service, painted signs, cleaned out springs, built dams, dug ditches, mixed cement, installed radio antennas, and conducted other odd jobs in the national monument without pay. The evacuee women spent their days, caring for their children, assisting in the mess hall, and housekeeping. During their stay. Park Service personnel, as well as the soldiers, took groups of evacuees sightseeing in the national monument and on trips to pick up supplies and mail. The camp had a swimming pool that was enjoyed by the older children. The 65 evacuees remained at the Cow Creek camp under military guard, primarily for their protection, until arrangements could be made for their release through indefinite leave and assistance could be provided for relocation. The American Friends Service Committee played a major role in obtaining jobs and homes for the evacuees, sending representatives to Cow Creek to interview and assist them in planning for relocation. As a result of this organization’s efforts, many of the evacuees relocated to Chicago where the Friends had established a hostel to help those relocating from the relocation centers. As jobs and housing became available, departing evacuees were taken to Las Vegas, the nearest railhead, via military escort. By mid-February the “refugee” camp at Cow Creek was vacated. [51]

I wonder if any of the group of 65 Japanese and Japanese American internees brought into Death Valley for their safety got to see or play with Goodwin’s model railroad?

Is this the end of Goodwin’s story?

It is unclear. For while little else could be found about him, it seems unlikely that such an active man would just wither away, content to be a relic of the past. He must have been more than just a fascinating old coot, with lots of stories to share (should anyone be willing). But for now, I have nothing but blanks.

T. R. Goodwin died in 1972; this I learned from his wife Neva’s obituary, which also lists Mr. Goodwin as “an engineer in Sequoia” prior to placement as superintendent of the Death Valley National Monument. This may not be so accurate. Other research, again tied to Neva Goodwin’s death, states that T.R. Goodwin died in 1969:

T. R. “Ray” Goodwin preceded her in death Oct. 27, 1969. Research Note: Stone reads that he died Oct 25, 1969.

theodore-r-goodwin-grave-marker

It’s interesting to note that while Mr. Goodwin was an amazing man — one I think ought to be remembered — that his wife’s obit mentions next to nothing of her own life. This sexist fact is noted by Cathy Spude in her discussion of Mrs. Goodwin’s obituary, as published in The Electric Courier, and electronic newsletter for the employees of the National Park Service:

September 11, 1996 Volume 2, Number 13

“Neva Goodwin, 100, died August 14 at the home of her daughter, Kay Hamblin, in Yreka, California. She was buried in Monett, Missouri. Mrs. Goodwin was the first superintendent’s wife to live in Death Valley. T.R. Goodwin had been an engineer in Sequoia when he was put in charge of the newly created monument in 1933. He also served in Yellowstone, Yosemite and Grand Canyon during his NPS career. He died in 1972. Memorial donations in Mrs. Goodwin’s name may be made to Waldensen Presbyterian Church in Monett, MO 65708. Survivors include sister Chris Driskill, daughter Kay Hamblin, son Ted Goodwin, five grandchildren and one great-grandchild. Contacts with the family may be made through the Death Valley public affairs office.”

So we see that gender-based stereotypes in obituaries is not confined to the late 19th and early 20th centuries; it is here in 1996! It appears, from this obituary, that Neva Goodwin’s primary contribution to society was through her roles as wife, sister and mother. More information was given about what her husband did in his career than about Neva in her career as wife and mother.

The editor of this newsletter would probably be defensive if I suggested that his obituary was androcentric; he would no doubt reply that the readers of the newsletter are more interested in fellow employees (i.e., the deceased’s husband) than in their spouses. I wonder how many people in the service do indeed remember a man who died in 1972 (my 21-year career post-dates that event). Neva without a doubt continued to contribute to something at Death Valley, that the public affairs office is handling contacts with the family. What that contribution was, we cannot tell from this obit.

Surely as his wife, living with him in Death Valley, Neva Goodwin had her own work — and stories as well. She must have raised their son (the very one, according to the original 1951 article, the first of T.R.’s toy trains was purchased for). And, I imagine, Neva spend many a night trying to get Superintendent Goodwin to stop playing with his toy trains long enough to get something to eat & sleep before he began he’d have to get up in the morning and become Emperor of Death Valley again.

25 Ghosts At 35 Cents A Minute

I spotted 25 ghosts at the thrift store this weekend — the puzzle game was designated a “vintage collectible & therefore placed behind the glass, protected from kids and collectors alike.

vintage 25 ghosts puzzle game

I had no idea of the price until I made the clerk bring it out. So when I found out it was just $3.50, I felt I had to make it worth the clerk’s attention on a busy Saturday and buy it. That, and I’d never seen such a puzzle game before… The lack of any real directions intrigued me too, so I thought I’d better take it home and have a better look-see.

Lakeside’s 25 Ghosts Puzzle Game is a plastic figural jigsaw puzzle of “25 different ghostly shapes that fit together in a mysterious maze!” inside a black plastic frame. That’s what one gleans from the box and opening it. There are no instructions printed on the box, and if any such instruction sheet had been included, it was long gone. Or maybe the manufacturer figured the word “puzzle” was self-explanatory.

Anyway, it was dump the pieces out & put them together again inside the frame.

vintage 25 ghosts puzzle pieces

That took just under 10 minutes. If that sounds lame, A) I bet you’ve never done it, and B) old pieces with fading black painted eyes easily fool these old tired eyes so I had several pieces upside-down. (Next time I’ll know to look carefully that the ghost is facing the right way before I try to fit it in.)

I don’t know if they just didn’t put age suggestions/limits on puzzles back then, or if it was just “understood” that only kids would should be interested in killing some time doing puzzles, but as an adult who spent just under 10 minutes putting the puzzle together, I’d say it’s one of those “all ages” brain teasers — I know I’d like another go at it to see if I can get any faster. It certainly could be one of those timed family competitions too, where the person to assemble it the fastest wins.

At $3.50, that’s like 35 cents a minute; but if you divide the price by the number of pieces, I’m even further ahead. In any case, it’s OK as a puzzle game — but even cooler as a collectible because of the way it looks and the box’s graphics. Another thrift store super score!

25 Ghosts Puzzle Game, Copyright 1969, Lakeside Toys, Division of Lakeside Industries Inc., Minneapolis, Minn. Series No. 8309, Made in Hong Kong. Pieces marked “copyright 1967 LII Made In Hong Kong.”

Has Fonzie’s Real Cool Happy Days Game Jumped The Shark?

For a decade, from 1974 through 1984, Happy Days was one of the most popular sitcoms on television. While the show was supposed to be centered on Richie Cunningham (Ron Howard) and his family, quickly the star of the show became Arthur “Fonzie” Fonzarelli (Henry Winkler). So much so, that in 1980, the Smithsonian honored the Fonz and the series for it’s role in American pop culture history by putting one of the Fonz’s leather jackets on display — and there’s even a Bronz Fonz in Wisconsin memoralizing the TV series. But when I brought home the Happy Days game from the thrift store (a paltry $1.75), neither of our girls (age 19 and 12) even knew what or who the heck we were talking about.

I guess our rigid TV limits prevented them from mindless hours of channel surfing & the discovery of reruns.

But I never let stuff like that, be it the ignorance or the distaste of others, stop me from enjoying a new-to-me find.

I cleared the table and invited them all to play Happy Days, “Fonzie’s Real Cool Game By Parker Brothers”, © 1976 Paramount Pictures Corporation.

happy-days-boardgame-cover

The instructions sheet states the goal of this retro board game as follows: “Heeeeey… the Fonz is hangin’ out at your house. Show him how cool you really are by being the first player to collect 16 cool points and light up Arnold’s juke box.” Which doesn’t tell you much — other than you’ve somehow appropriated Arnold’s juke box and are keeping it at your house. Or maybe the Fonz did the liberating? I don’t know.

In reality the game is based on collecting cool points; but you don’t spend time at your house or anyone elses (with or without the Fonz). In fact, landing on your home space or another home space can cost you in cool points. But I guess I’m expecting too much story from a story-based board game.

Anywhoooo…

The game is pretty simple. In theory. I’m not saying the ages 7 – 13 thing is off; I’m just saying that it’s more complicated to explain without typing the entire instruction sheet.

But I’ll try.

OK, picture playing Monopoly. You start with some money (in this case, a $3 allowance) and your playing piece starts at your own color-coordinated home rather than “Go”. Unlike Monopoly, you also get a Somethin’ To To card, have a peg in the juke box “cool meter” (with one cool point granted to you), and you only have one die to roll.

game-set-up

You roll the die, move that number of spaces, and where ever you land on the board, take the action directed — should you be able to. Because you might not have enough allowance to go on the date or activity listed on your Somethin’ To Do card — or you might have used-up your Somethin’ To Do card supply.

Round & round the board you go, going on dates, hanging out with pals, earning allowance & money for odd jobs (so you can hang out and go on dates) — plus earning and losing cool points.

game-in-play

The game is not monotonous. Along the way, you or another player may draw a Crusin’ card, which will direct you all to “stuff a telephone booth” or “play the pinball machine” — the winner of which, selected by being the high roller, gets two cool points. Of course, you can loose cool points whimsically too. Like when another player draws a Crusin’ card which says “knocked over Fonzie’s bike” or “the Fonz catches you wearing colored socks”. The penalty point loss isn’t given to the player who drew the card; they get to play it against an opponent.

But by far, the most fun are the Drag spaces on the board.

When you land on one of these two spaces, you get to challenge any other player to a drag race. Should anyone chicken out, the chicken loses a cool point and the other gains a cool point. Ah, but if you race, the action moves to the center of the game board, where you roll the die to see who reaches the finish line first — be careful, because you could spin-out or have an engine stall! The winner of the race gets two cool points and the loser is moved to the “Hey, Nerd!” space of the winner’s choosing, where he or she loses a point. Plus the winner of the drag race gets to place themselves anywhere they’d like on the board.

So while the game play is pretty simple, the game action is rather varied — and we all had a blast.

I know what you’re thinking — I’m a silly board game geek and a lover of retro chic, so of course I liked it, and therefore I’m probably imagining that everyone else did too. Plus, I won the first game. But honestly, the kids insisted on playing three more games (Des, the 12 year old, won twice) — and both girls whined when hubby & I had to call it quits for dinner.

And the rest of the night, “Hey, Nerd!” was shouted and giggled at one another for any old thing. Not just by the kids either.

It almost became annoying. Almost.

So I totes recommend the retro Happy Days board game; it has not jumped the shark. It’s even fun if you don’t know the show.

destiny-ayyyyyy

Friday the 13th Contest Is A Killer Heh Heh

Collectors’ Quest and Mezco have teamed-up for a thrilling Friday the 13th Contest.

Up for grabs:

The Jason 3.75 inch Toy Fair 2009 Limited Edition Produced exclusively for the 2009 New York Toy Fair, he comes with his trademark machete and removable Glow In The Dark mask.

Cinema Of Fear Friday the 13th 2009 Remake 7in Figure The legendary slasher of Camp Crystal Lake strikes again in the all new Friday the 13th film. The Jason Voorhees figure is crafted with incredible detail, full articulation, & comes with an array of weapons used in the film.

I can’t win because I’m a staff writer — but there’s no reason why you can’t win! Here’s how to enter the random drawing:

1. Sign up to collectorsquest.com to receive one entry in the drawing. (And be sure to make me your buddy — I’m Poptart.)

2. Upload a collection and you will receive 5 entries. Present CQ members must upload a new collection for entry.

3. Drawing will be held on March 14th and winner announced thereafter.

Good luck!

“My brain is a poor cocoon — the Libby’s jingle goes in like larva, but it never enters the pupa stage and morphs into a beautiful butterfly leaving me with an earworm.”

I spotted this retro doll, a promotional piece for Libby’s foods, at an antique store.

It reminded me of the following:

1) I am getting really old because more and more stuff from my time is now entering the “collectible” category and being sold in antique stores (if not, yet, actually as antiques).

2) I have a friend whose nickname is Libby; it’s a shortened form of her online user ID “Libertine”. I am forever singing, “When it’s got Libby’s Libby’s Libby’s on the label label label, you will like it like it like it on your table table table,” to her. It’s especially a hoot if you wiggle your eyebrows during the “you will like it like it like it on your table table table” part of the lyric.

3) When you reference “online user ID” in conjunction with “retro 70’s” stuff, your brain hurts a little.

4) No matter what you put in your brain, if there’s a jingle in there, it will over power it all and come out victorious. My brain is a poor cocoon — the Libby’s jingle goes in like larva, but it never enters the pupa stage and morphs into a beautiful butterfly, leaving me with an earworm.

5) Funny thing about recalling jingles, no matter how many times the earworm loops, no matter how many times you find yourself singing it aloud, you suddenly wonder if the version you are singing is the accurate version…

I searched the Internet for a video of the old Libby’s commercial; but none had that jingle.

I wouldn’t call all this a waste of time, an hour later I have these two gems to share with you:

First, a 1960’s commercial in which Libby’s makes up a “Sloppy Joe” dance craze to peddle product:

I’m too young to remember that one; but I’m betting if there were any of those t-shirts etc. still around in an antique store I’d want one. Bad.

I vaguely recall this Libby’s canned vegetables ad with Tony Randal:

I don’t recall these 70’s ads for Libbyland dinners…

But then, we weren’t allowed to have TV dinners, so maybe I had no dietary connection to leave a lasting promotional imprint… Those folding tray/boxes are completely fascinating!

13 Kitschy Finds


(Thursday Thirteen header by Jenn.)

Just 13 things I found shopping online and had to share this Thursday…

1. Time out of whack? Whack it back with this ping pong paddle clock:

2. Ever wonder what your kitchenware does when you’re at work? They play croquet, of course:

3. I just love this vintage watercolor of Browning, Montana’s “Drugstore & Moving Picture House, in the Snow”:

4. Is it just me, or does it look like this retro poodle got drunk on kitty whiskey?

5. Vintage 1940’s porcelain, wood and fabric Carmen Miranda pin:

6. Two great things that go great together: flamingos and black velvet!

7. Because I often write as Pop tart, you know I’m loving this Cherry Pop-Tart Ring:

8. This is a reproduction, but if you love the style of those classic retro heads — authentically colored turquoise, yet — this head’s for you:

9. Cuddle & coo with this retro Dankin Dream Pet poodle:

10. Get a bit of vintage cheesecake for your cupcake:

11. Miss Piggy went to the UK in the 80’s; bring her back.

12. Go nutty with vintage style peanut bags:

13. And what can go better with circus-style peanuts than vintage hot pink clown shoes? Answer: Nothing. Then again, few things do ever trump vintage clown shoes.

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here

Jane West: The Movable Cowgirl

I have a mild interest in the Johnny West toys by Louis Marx & Co.. Like so many retro toys, it’s really rare to find them with their original boxes; so when I saw Jane West with her box in a display case at a local antique mall I had to take a closer look…

Is it just me, or does the wording on the box, “Jane West The Movable Cowgirl” and “She Will Pose For You 1001 Different Ways”, sound erotic?

Hubby says it’s just that Marx marketed their toys differently than most. They weren’t dolls and they weren’t action figures. What he said next rather removed them from the toys category too: “If Marx were making things today, they’d be seen as made for the collector market.” So, if they aren’t for kids to play with, they’re adult toys.

Which intriguingly brings me back to Jane “posing for me” in 1001 ways…

Johnny West may have been a fighter, but he was a lover too. At least my Johnny was (and I couldn’t have been the only one doing this) so I know from personal experience of playing with Jane and Johnny that many of the poses were most unnatural. So many joints on Jane provide a flexibility that Jenna Jameson would envy.

Maybe that’s why there were so few female figures made by Marx… If you’ve got one bendy cow girl willing to pose for you in so many ways, why bother with another? Sure her face wasn’t real pretty, but how many of the poses meant you actually had to look at it?

Besides, one bendy chick — with blonde hair yet! — was already luring too many of those Indians.

The Verrry Interesting Laugh-In Lunch Box

Growing up, Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In was on too late for me to stay up & watch; it began airing in 1968 when I was just four. But hearing my parents talk about the show, I wanted to see it in the worst way. So eventually my whining bore fruit; mom sent me to bed with my younger sister, but as she tucked me in she whispered in my ear, “Just pretend to sleep — I’ll come back and sneak you out past your sleeping sister before the show starts.” I was so excited!

But that must have been too much excitement for me because mother found me passed-out, sound asleep, when she came back for me — but my little sis was awake and she got to watch the show! Drat! Just another reason for a little girl to dislike her little sister.

As the show ran until 1973, I eventually grew old enough to stay up and watch it — not that I understood most of it. Laugh-In was a show built on political humor and sexual innuendo; not something your average kid knows. Well, I understood enough to know there was naughty stuff… and most of the cultural comments were even further over my head. But Arte Johnson was wacky enough for me to genuinely giggle at.

All of this came flooding back when I spotted this old Laugh-In lunch box at a local antique mall this past weekend.

It was a delight to spot — but I carefully replaced it up on it’s lofty spot on a shelf when I spotted the $125 price tag. (Which, apparently, is not out of the norm for such retro Laugh-In lunch boxes.)

But what really makes this find noteworthy is the fact that Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In was not a television show for kids — so why make kids’ lunch boxes?

I mean kids didn’t understand the show — and by the time they would have, wouldn’t they be too old for lunch boxes with thermoses? I can imagine the beating 16 year olds took for toting mom’s PB&J in a lunch box.

So just who were these lunch boxes with “Sock it to me” on them marketed to? Kids who, like me, wanted to watch the show because their parents thought it was cool? Parents, who wanted their kids to look cool?

Well, it seems to me that in the late 60’s to early 70’s parents didn’t push their kids to look like mini-adults like they do today… And while there weren’t the same judgments & finger pointing at parents for kids having risqué knowledge (hey, back then we kids traveled in cars without seat belts, even riding on those backseat ‘shelves’ under the rear windows, and we kept our parents company in taverns without any finger or tongue wagging), parents hadn’t yet given into the permissiveness of letting the children dictate to them, especially about adult things. We sat in taverns because parents wanted to go, we rode in the car that way because no laws yet forbade it, and we got Disney and Muppet stuff because we were kids.

It was just that sort of upbringing which makes me covet such a lunch box. It’s familiar & nostalgic, but it was never mine because I was too young — now that I’m older, I want it bad.