MY FINGERS SLIDE across the smooth, one-eighth-inch thick, blue cardboard squares imprinted with letters. B, M, C, R, O, A…and the dreaded Q, if I’m without a U.
In these tile letters, I touch childhood memories of gathering around the Formica kitchen table set upon worn red-and-white linoleum tiles to play Scrabble for Juniors.
It is the early 1960s and this “crossword game for children” manufactured by Selchow & Richter Company, Bay Shore, N.Y., marks my introduction to Scrabble, which today, in the grown-up version, remains my favorite board game.
Imagine then me, a wee wisp of a grade school girl leaning across the table to snatch letters from a box lid, shaping those letters into a word and then, triumphantly, carefully, lining the letters upon the playing board, all the while scolding my siblings for bumping the table.
While I’m certain my brothers and sisters wanted to win, I doubt their interest in this word game ever matched my passion. I delighted in unscrambling the letters into words. Words. Glorious words. Through my cat-eye glasses, I could envision the possibilities.
My earliest memories are of words read aloud from books. Books. Glorious books. At age four, after surgery to correct crossed eyes, I remember Dr. Fritsche at the New Ulm hospital asking me to look at a book. I could see. The pages. The words. The pictures.
Can you imagine how my parents must have worried about their little girl’s vision, how, as a poor farm family they scraped together enough money for the surgery that would keep me from going blind in one eye? I am, to this day, grateful for the gift of sight.
Those are my thoughts on this morning, the day after I heard a bit of trivia on the radio about Scrabble, information that proved to be false. Scrabble was not invented in 1955 as the radio announcer shared.
Rather, Alfred Mosher Butts, an unemployed architect, conceived the idea during the Great Depression and trademarked it in 1948.
For those of you who appreciate trivia, here’s some Minnesota trivia to tuck away in your brain: Jim Kramer, a proofreader from Roseville, Minnesota, won the U.S. Scrabble Open in 2006. This past year, he ranked fourth in the Division 1 section of the National Scrabble Championship and earned $1,000. Three other Minnesotans—from Minneapolis, Rosemount and Spring Lake Park—were among the 108 players participating in the Division 1 competition.
What, I wonder, initially drew these Minnesotans to Scrabble? Did they, like me, gather around the kitchen table as a child to grab letters from a box, form the letters into words and then slide those letters onto a playing board? Do they, like me, love words?
LET’S HEAR FROM YOU. What’s your favorite board game and why? What are your memories of playing board games as a child? Do you still play board games?
© Copyright 2012 Audrey Kletscher Helbling