July 4th Is Here Again

Happy Fourth of July! How can I not greet you all on this holiday, another of my favorite days in the year? I hope you’re enjoying the Deep Summer! Here, the last three days have actually felt like summer at last: blessed heat and humidity, perspiration, rooms that swelter until you can get a window open, arms sticking to the tabletop, fans blowing warm air around, and to sleep at night is like lying in a cast-iron frying pan, sizzling away . . . I love it! This is the season — long may it last!

Writing is going well, by grace! It was a banner week: 7,296 words written on the novel in the first three days of July! The story is building momentum, and I’m really excited.

Anyway, I was glancing back at 4th of July posts written the past two years in an effort not to repeat myself too much. (If you’re inclined to go back and review them for more of Glory Day, you can easily find them with the “search” function: last year’s was called “Thunder and Providence,” and I think the year before’s was called “Glory Day.”)

The posting today won’t be too elaborate — I’m about “written out” for the weekend (but you’ll agree the energy has been well-spent, right?). But here are a few more good 4th of July memories:

I had a wonderful uncle. I’ll call him “Uncle Art” (since that was his name). He had an ever-active imagination, a genuine sense of fun, and a mischievous streak a mile wide; and, being an adult, he had the wherewithal to carry out his schemes. On different occasions, he built a moving humanoid robot, made a long stop-action animated film using my Planet of the Apes dolls and dinosaurs, and populated my grandma’s garden with wooden gardeners who moved when the wind blew.

But in the estimation of us kids, one of the absolute best things he ever built was his 4th of July cannon. It was made of a simple, heavy pipe — maybe a yard long, and with a bore just slightly larger than a tin can. The bottom end was capped and welded shut; there was a hole for a fuse, and (like Gandalf) Uncle Art had a magical black powder that would explode with incredible force when fire was applied. Heh, heh, heh.

He brought that out to our backyard and set it up so that the barrel was pointing northeast, out over the cornfield. In went the magical powder charge, some wadded newspaper, two empty beer cans [provided by my parents — I won’t besmirch Uncle Art’s good name! — as far as I know, he never touched alcohol], and more wadded newspaper. We’d all stand well back, covering our ears, and Uncle Art would light the fuse.

Then would come a detonation that CRACK-ACKed as an echo off the barn, off the house, and thundered around the horizon, rolling away through the woods. Smoke and fire spewed from the cannon. The wadding was immolated, of course, and the beer cans were projected far, far out into the corn. Half the fun was running out into the cornfield to hunt for the cans.

Midwest farm kids know what a joyous place a cornfield is: your bare feet sink into the warm, fine soil that plumes between your toes like moon dust — it’s like running through an endless expanse of talcum powder. You have to hold your arms up in front of your face, because the edges of corn leaves are sharp — as you run, you end up with uncountable stinging, itchy, mostly invisible lacerations. Bugs tumble onto you and get down your collar. The field is like some kind of giant game board: you can go down the row or across the rows — there are two directions to move in. It’s a secret world of steam and green shadows. Sometimes there are strange clearings where some stalks have not grown well — a fairy ring deep in the field, hidden from the world. We used to love to build campfires in those when we were older and sit out until the sky paled, watching the stars and the meteors.

We’d usually eventually find the beer cans — or what was left of them. They’d be way out there, nearly to the timber line . . . barely recognizable, flattened and shredded — some ribbons of aluminum, the tiny corner of a logo or brand name remaining. We would scoop them up and proudly take them back to civilization.

Then Uncle Art would re-load the cannon, and we’d do it all over again.

One year, some horses were being kept in the little-used livery stable next door. After about two blasts from the cannon, a very irate lady marched into our yard and yelled, “Will you knock it off, already? You’re scaring the horses!”

Oh, I’ll bet we were. We were scaring the dead in the cemetery up the road. We apologized and knocked it off. But you can’t “knock off” the entire holiday, when things are blowing up all over. With all apologies to horses and dogs, whom I dearly love, the Fourth of July cannot be silenced. All you with sensitive ears, retreat to your stalls and basements, and give us this one day; we promise to be extra quiet for the next week. The Fourth is meant to resound — to burst and flash with brilliant sparks — blossoms of fire a mile high, a mile wide.

Happy Glory Day!

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121 Responses to “July 4th Is Here Again”

  1. I refuse to apologize for USA Says:

    “When, in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the laws of nature and of nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.”

    Beautiful words, those. Too bad 90% of Americans have no idea where they come from.

    • Tim in Germany Says:

      Toward the end of each grading period, I ask my seventh grade students to memorize a poem or short prose piece and recite it for the class. This text is one of the options, and it’s always a popular choice.

      …Just doing my part to chip away at the 90%.

  2. Daylily Says:

    The Fourth, the glorious Fourth! What is it that compels me yearly to recapture my childhood for a few shining moments by seeking out a fireworks display? The ephemeral fire flowers have blossomed once more in the dark sky. And I was there to see it. I wonder, when I am eighty years old, will that still be important to me? I rather think it will be. It’s a yearly rite of summer, just as every spring I search out lilac bushes and inhale the lovely fragrance of their blossoms. And every autumn, I watch for flaming red maples.

  3. Shieldmaiden Says:

    Sorry for the momentary change in topic, I just wanted to wish Mr. Brown Snowflake a fantastic time tonight at SW in Concert! I do want a report as soon as you can manage one 🙂

    And Fred, I did go back and read the past 4th posts and comments, they are wonderful!! The language of boys watching fireworks is still an all time favorite comment ever. Thank you for your post, I read it late last night after a fantastic 4th of July.

  4. I refuse to apologize for USA Says:


    I have just returned from the 2:30 p.m. matinee of Star Wars In Concert! Thanks, Shieldmaiden, for the well-wishes. As you can tell I was blown away, not easy for a guy my size 🙂

    I have a long love affair with the music of John Williams. To list his soundtracks that I own would take too long…suffice to say that he is THE MAN as far as I am concerned (with a big tip of the hat to Howard Shore for his incredible work on LOTR).

    Now, I must say I am no big fan of Anthony Daniels (even as a kid I didn’t like C-3PO), but he did a nice job.

    I was surprised at the format. I went in expecting an abbreviated jaunt, in order, through the movies. Instead, it was more of a highlight reel by topic “A Hero Rises” “The Droids” “Great Escapes” etc… and that was fine, just unexpected.

    There were hundreds of youngsters there in costume, which was delightful. I had my picture taken with a Stormtrooper and with one of the Chancellor’s Guards (the blue guys). The rest of the prop displays and customed characters were great. It was much fun watching the children have a photo taken standing next to a beeping, twirling, chirping R2-D2!

    Two friends went with me and we left with the same three beliefs about Star Wars that we have always shared: 1.) Jar-Jar Binks must die; 2.) Darth Maul is the most under-utilized bad guy of all time; 3.) Han fired first.

    During the intermission, we (Doug, Dan and I) polled some people around us and asked them to rank the movies in order of greatness. The three of us already agreed, and 6 of the 8 adults we asked consented to our list: 5-3-4-6-2-1.

    I enjoyed the musical selections chosen, thrilling in particular to Duel of the Fates and, of course, The Imperial March.

    A great time and one I would highly recommend to any Star Wars or John Williams fan if the show comes near you.

    Had it been the traveling LOTR show I would probably have to be institutionalized; but Star Wars In Concert was a blast!

  5. I refuse to apologize for USA Says:

    EGADS, I did it again. Once more I have sucked all the air out of the blog and everyone has split …

    • fsdthreshold Says:

      No, I don’t think you’ve done anything that’s caused people to split. I think it’s just that blog activity comes in waves. There’s a flurry of activity, then a quiet spell, then another flurry. . . .

      I was expecting more people to have stories about blowing stuff up as kids, but maybe most readers of this blog are law-abiding citizens?

      The fireworks law was (as far as I know) the only one I broke freely and boldly — as did most of Taylorville, judging by the sounds of the day. If you weren’t actually setting off fireworks on Main Street, and if you contained your pyrotechnics to the 4th, the police were cool about attending to more important business and leaving patriotic kids alone. For a time, I was related by marriage to the chief of police. One year, I was at a family gathering at Lake Taylorville on the 4th of July, at which he was also present, and I remember thinking we’d have to lay off on the fireworks at that particular gathering. But then his grandkids ran up to him yelling, “Grandpa! You should see the big hole we just blew in the beach!” We were all relieved.

      • fsdthreshold Says:

        For a while, I remember when fireworks were legal in Illinois, and you could buy them at roadside stands. Then they weren’t, and we had to start planning family vacations to Kentucky or Missouri in June. Remember the big tents they’d have down there, with bushel baskets of fountains and Roman candles, barrels of bottle rockets, bricks of firecrackers and ladyfingers for sale?

        There was a type of firework we used to call a “UFO,” which was an aluminum disc about 1.5 inches in diameter, with four flanges cut out and folded in a way so as to make it aerodynamic. It also had three or four cardboard tubes of charge on one side. You placed it on the ground and lit the fuse, and it would soar into the air shooting a spray of golden sparks and making a loud “Whreeeeeeeeee!” sound. It was the most chaotic of the fireworks: you never knew which direction it would fly. One year, one of those chased one of our cats. It was spooky, as if the firework really had it in for the cat! Wherever the cat would run, that UFO would chase it there; the cat, with ears laid flat, would sprint to a new hiding place, and the UFO would change direction and go after the cat there, “Whreeeeee!

  6. jhagman Says:

    Artillery!! Yeah! Years ago I would get together with my friends to have a shooting competition, always on Thanksgiving. We called it the Turkey Shoot. One year one of my friends brought a PVC cannon. It was powered by WB40, and it shot potatoes. We used a long barbecue lighter to ignite it!. He (I don’t remember who brought it) had built it using a book called “Backyard Ballistics”. It was the most popular “gun” of that year, and when you consider that some of my friends are in law enforcement had brought heavy weapons, that means something!

  7. I refuse to apologize for USA Says:

    Now we are talking! This year was a bust for mer, but I had some really cool stuff in 2009 I bought after a road trip with two buddies to Missouri (we came back with — I kid you not — nearly $400 worth of explosives, as we had ‘orders’ from a few friends. The trunk was packed, and if someone had thrown in a lit match, we would have been blown out of Missouri, over Iowa and into Minnesota!

    I bought three “ROCKET BRIGADE” launchers. They are square blocks roughly 6″ per side and rising like a pyramid. Contained therein are 25 (25!) bottle rockets. These only launch about 20-25 feet in the air, but they trail sparks, too! One fuse sets it off and then: whoosh, whoosh, whoosh, all 25 come flying out in a few seconds, creating all sorts of mayhem! Wonderful!

    Roman Candles are great, too. We were buying them in bundles of six for $3! Wow! I cannot tell you how many assorted missiles, screamers, etc… you get the picture.

    On Cherokee St. myself and a certain Mike S. from Elm St. would put bottle rockets into the end of those long, yellow plastic whiffle ball bats and shoot them at assorted targets (often cars!) from behind trees or under bushes (heh heh heh). We also used to stick M-80s — they were still legal then — in potatoes and other foods and blow the whole thing to smithereens! I remember Mike once put an M-80 in a tangerine he took from his kitchen. The thing practically vanished, and we found juice splatters dozens of feet away, to say nothing about all over ourselves! What fun! No wonder Crazy Harry was one of my favorite Muppets (if you don’t recall, he was the caveman-looking guy who ran under with a detonation plunger blowing things up).

    Blowing things up. Cool.

  8. Morwenna Says:

    Fred and Brown Snowflake, I don’t mean to assign stereotypical traits to the genders, but no, I don’t share your love of detonating explosives. 🙂 As a girl, even holding a lit sparkler was plenty of excitement for me!

  9. I refuse to apologize for USA Says:

    Morwenna: I take no offense. I find the fear of stereotyping worrisome, because stereotypes come about by direct observation; i.e. white men can’t jump (true). You absolutely CAN identify groups by commonalitites; it is when stereotypes are used maliciously that I disagree with their use.

  10. I refuse to apologize for USA Says:

    I was half asleep when I answered Morwenna a few hours ago (half a bucket of chicken, a pint of potato salad and seven biscuits will do that to you…) and I would like to add to my comments, hopefully without all the typos this time.

    Morwenna perfectly illuminates the differences in the genders, which is to be celebrated. OF COURSE she is not thrilled by blowing stuff up…a member of the fairer sex having the same lust for explosions as I have would terrify me, and it is altogether fitting that she not see what all the fuss is about.

    Please understand that I am not trying to be a chauvanistic pig, but it is in the nature of the ladies to not be tickled at the core of their being by violence — destruction for its own sake is an inherent male flaw, as I willingly admit.

    I just cannot help it … blowing things up is cool. Sorry.

  11. Morwenna Says:

    Thanks, Brown Snowflake, for your great comments! I don’t think you are chauvinistic. I love it that men and women are different!

    • Daylily Says:

      Now hold on here! SOME girls like fireworks enough to go out and purchase them and have a little outdoor fun with explosives. Notably, my college-aged daughter and I. So this year we purchased a number of fountains from a fireworks tent at July 5 sale prices, found a field where we wouldn’t bother anyone with the noise, invited my daughter’s roommate to come, and the three of us females enjoyed all the many and varied displays of sparks and stars, complete with sound effects. But no rockets. They are not legal in this state, I imagine for good reason, and I am afraid of them. (We do like sparklers, too.)

  12. I refuse to apologize for USA Says:

    Hooray for Daylilly, her daughter and daughter’s rommie! I do, however, note a rejection of rocketry (I am afraid of them) but that is no shame …

    I have always wanted to command an M1A2 tank for a day, and just roll through some abandoned town and blow crap away! OHH BABY! Even better would be to recommission the four Iowa-class battleships and then I could (in my dreams) go out and squeeze off a few 16-inch rounds! OHH OHH BABY! That would would be WAY cooler than bulls-eyeing womprats with my T-16!

    • Scott Says:

      …or fire off a few rounds with the old cannon that sits in front of the Christian County Historical Society.

    • Daylily Says:

      A true story of rocketry. Once upon a time, on the campus of Michigan State where my husband was a student, there were two dorms that had a disagreement. Let the record show: Akers started it. The men of Akers had a loud party on the roof of their residence. Eventually the residents of Holmes (the building across the street, which housed the science majors) became tired of it, came out, and yelled at the Akers guys to shut up. A yelling match developed, complete with obscenities. Words escalated to an exchange of bottle rockets. But nothing was settled. Next night, both halls fired many more bottle rockets (none of these rockets reached the other hall). On the third night, Akers had gotten organized. It fired rockets in waves, timed to go off simultaneously. Holmes’ answer was: nothing. Fourth night, same thing. Waves of rockets from Akers, nothing from Holmes. On the fifth night, yet more waves of rockets from Akers. As the third wave was dying down, Holmes sent its answer. One rocket. ONE. It tore through three walls of Akers and barely missed a student. (Did I mention that Holmes housed the science majors?) That’s when the administration stepped in. My husband saw two waves of the rockets one night and also saw the holes (approximately five inches in diameter) in the walls from the ONE rocket.

  13. I refuse to apologize for USA Says:

    Although I love the one-upmanship and proclivity to violence in this story, I house a hatred for Michigan State (completely because I love the Illini) and especially Tom Izzo.

    A reminder to the blog visitors out there: it was MSU students who rioted, set fire to cars and more or less demolished several blocks in the dump known as East Lansing after the Spartans WON the hoops title a few years ago. Classy. (but still a great inter-dorm story!)

  14. I refuse to apologize for USA Says:

    Scott: No, I have not used the cannon line as a moniker yet. Shieldmaiden (I think it was her) said she most liked “I used to pet Chewbacca” as a fave; I dunno if I have a favorite, maybe something about Hooper (I am committed to keeping his K9 spirit barking along with us). Did you notice I used “I love Bill’s Toasty?” Yum — and I will be having a Bill’s burger in two weeks or so …

    • Shieldmaiden Says:

      Brown Snowflake: my favorites have been the Chewbacca one you mentioned and the Hooper ones you’ve done. I also loved “I jumped from the barn” (or something like that, don’t know why, just do). Before you were officially named “Mr. Brown Snowflake” I always thought of you as i-guy or sentences guy, but somehow the Snowflake won out and now you are sorta stuck with it. The names you come up with are great, keep’em comin!

      • I refuse to apologize for USA Says:

        Dearest Shieldmaiden: Thanks for the vote of confidence. As I am sure I mentioned before, I (Chris, too and and few others) did indeed jump from the barn, and I did indeed pet Chewbacca, an fluffy grey cat at Fred’s.

        I think I use the I because I couldn’t come up with a moniker I would like, so I went with the I, and since I love to read my own words (I am arrogant, you see) I thought “Hey, why not put ‘I’ in front of a short phrase? That way I make it every time!”

        This, of course, means Fred has to approve my first response in each new blog as the moniker changes, but irritating the host was never my intention. However, it does sometimes cause me to fall behind…for example, there will be 1 or 2 comments, I will reply, but by the time it is on the blog 3 or 4 more will get in there in-between, and often the thread has changed or the moment passed. Oh the price ‘I’ pay (ha ha).

        Not sure where Brown Snowflake comes from; I think you gave it to me 😉 Whoever did, I (and ‘I’) thank them!

      • Shieldmaiden Says:

        Yes, it was me. I didn’t intend for it to stick but it has. Have you used “I am Mr. Brown Snowflake” yet (ha ha).

  15. I refuse to apologize for USA Says:

    Shieldmaiden: I am not sure if I have used “I am Mr. Brown Snowflake.” Aside from going back through every post I am not sure how to find out…maybe I have.

    I know the truest intention was that “my” icon is brown and kinda shaped like a snowflake; Scott would likely tell you the icon is a perfect fit because I am so full of … that it snows.

    O.K. Frederic: Time for a new post mon ami

    • fsdthreshold Says:

      I think the “search” feature would help, wouldn’t it? Type in “Brown Snowflake,” and it should lead a person to any uses of that phrase. I think it’s possible to search either the postings or the comments specifically.

      I remember that you were referred to as “The Sentences Guy” before Shieldmaiden’s usage of “Mr. Brown Snowflake” won out.

      Yes, you’re right, it’s time for a new post. Always open to suggestions!

  16. I refuse to apologize for USA Says:

    O.K. friends, may I make a suggestion? Whenever you are bored by the thread, tired of seeing the same responders (I would be sick of me) or are simply fed up with Fred, lets all just bombard the comments with one word:


    Maybe it 20+ of us do so we can PROD Frederic (who is gonna just love the idea, dontcha think?)

    I that spirit, allow me to be the first:


    • fsdthreshold Says:

      With one slight modification: every PROD must be accompanied by a suggested topic for a new posting. If every PROD comes with a good idea, then PROD away.

  17. I refuse to apologize for USA Says:

    I must be going mad. I just looked back through every comment left on all the posts from the Fauns forward and cannot find what I was looking for: a great post suggestion.

    All I can recall is that when I saw it I said to myself: “Great idea! Hope Fred takes it up!” but now (duh) I cannot find it. I THINK it was suggested by Daylily (do you remember, fair lady, what it might have been?), though one of our other treasured Ladies of the Blog might have been responsible (for some reason I seem to believe a lady left it, because at the time I recall thinking ‘why do the chicks — sorry, gals — always have the best ideas?’)

    • Daylily Says:

      Sir Brown Snowflake, my best guess is that you are referring to the comments on “Next Hundred,” in which I made various suggestions as to the stories Fred could tell us about Japan, and you said, “I strongly second Daylily’s request: let’s hear about Japan!” And Fred said he could write a post about his visit to Hiroshima. In fact, he said, “That would make an excellent topic for a post sometime soon!”

  18. I refuse to apologize for USA Says:

    Thanks, Daylily. On May 1 Daylily wrote:

    ” I would love to know about your favorite students and why they are your favorites. What is it like to teach English in Japan? What is your style of teaching? What sorts of humorous mistakes do the students make? Do you ever go out with the students to restaurants? What are your favorite Japanese foods and your favorite restaurants in Japan? How about telling us the most important things a foreigner should know about visiting Japan? What are your favorite places to visit in Japan?

    I, and several others, strongly supported her requests and I should think you can find some inspirations from her suggestions

  19. I refuse to apologize for USA Says:

    PROD (see comment above)

    • fsdthreshold Says:

      Dear Comrade Prodsky,
      I just spent the past hour or so turning my apartment upside-down in a vain search for the old VYM newsletters, so that I could reprint on this blog my report on my visit to Hiroshima, back when it was still fresh in my mind. I was sure I had a set of the newsletters here, and I thought I knew exactly where they were: but I seem to have been remembering where they were pre-2005/2006, when I moved most of my stuff back to the States. So I’m guessing they’re in storage back home along with most other things I’m trying to find. Grr. Those newsletters would be the best source of the things you and Daylily seem to be asking for. If anyone has your set of those old newsletters, hang onto them! The extant copies are rarer than I thought.
      When I recover from the frustration, I’ll try to reconstruct the highlights of Hiroshima, though now it’s only three or four key things I remember.

      • fsdthreshold Says:

        Update: I am working on the next posting. Physical exhaustion prevented me from finishing it tonight; and now I’m going to be away from my desk for about 24 hours. But I hope to be able to get the post up on Monday (my time) — so it’s on the way before long!

  20. I refuse to apologize for USA Says:

    I cannot speak for dearest Daylily, but what I am asking for is what we have discussed in emails and private conversations in the past: just a short snippet or two of the daily life or the Japanese language.

    Once, in your kitchen, you explained to me that it is not enough to know the proper Japanese word, you have to THINK in Japanese. The example you used was: In English we would say “The can is on the table” while in Japanese the proper phrasing would be “The table is where the can is.” (or something similar to that).

    It is those little tidbits I think most of us would enjoy.

    For instance: Why is it that whenever I see photos of a parking lot in Japan, AT LEAST 75% of the vehicles are white? Or, why exactly is Japanese food so disgusting? And who the heck decided to eat squid ink, tuna eyes and seaweed? If the Japanese are capable of rebuilding Tokyo (pop. 30 million) every 3-4 years after Godzilla has destroyed it, why don’t they just build some new islands and thin out the population density? Why the prevalent use of the Roman alphabet? How come so many of their women are stunningly gorgeous and why don’t they move to Iowa?…you know, things like that 🙂

  21. I refuse to apologize for USA Says:

    thats it … I am outtta here …

    • Daylily Says:

      Do not be alarmed. The silence you are experiencing on the blog is only a test. An experiment as to what might happen when our dear host leaves us with nothing to talk about. Wow. Deafening silence. But it’s only a test . . . only a test . . . only a test . . .

      • fsdthreshold Says:

        My dear friends: as I explained on Saturday, I had to be away on Sunday and Monday. It is now Tuesday, a very busy teaching day. Even while away, I worked on my post, but I didn’t manage to finish it yet. Journalists get paid for their columns; this blog for me is a labor of love. University classes have to happen on schedule, and if I don’t get at least five or six hours of sleep, I cease to function well. You have endured far longer silent periods than this one and have stood by me. If you can’t now, I understand. Please know that a post is coming just as soon as I’m physically able to get it finished and up.

  22. I refuse to apologize for USA Says:

    Sensei: We all understand this. I am just annoyed that no one has bothered to kick something up to entertain us while we await a new blog. Most of my ideas start fights, so I have been sitting back and waiting, but everytime I check in there are 25 Brown Snowflake comments, with Daylily during her best and then a few odds and ends.

    I blame summer. While you adore the stifling heat and humidity, I think it drains most of humanity; thus, the lack of blog activity.

    Alright, then, gang, how bout we do an “alphabet-thingy” while the good professor is away. How about favorite games (I am thinking board games, or playground games). I will go first.

    ‘A’ is for Aggravation. Its always fun to make someone lose their marbles!

  23. Shieldmaiden Says:

    ‘B’ is for BATTLESHIP! I played that game for hours and hours as a kid. I wonder if it’s still around?
    PS- take your time Fred, we are never leaving. Ever. Sorry about the lack of comments, summer is a busy time, in a totally different way than the school year. Catching up on things and visiting with friends and READING BOOKS! (which is always, always on topic/subject).
    PPS- thanks for keeping things going and making it fun between posts Mister Snowflake, you rock as always!
    PPPS- I bet we can guess each other’s ages by the favorite games we list. (ha ha)
    PPPPS- Tomorrow SW in concert (again)!

  24. I refuse to apologize for USA Says:

    Great choice for “B” Shieldmaiden my dear!

    The preschool crowd might think “C” is for “Cootie” but I am going with “CLUE”, especially if, like me, you have the old wooden pieces, metal tokens and original board! heh heh.

    AS ALWAYS, anyone can go back and add your own. If you have a better A B or C jump in, otherwise we await “D”…

    • Daylily Says:

      “C” is also for “Concentration.” I liked the old TV show and I also liked the board game version. But then, I like word games in general.

    • Shieldmaiden Says:

      ‘B’ is also for backgammon, which I played endlessly. ‘C’ is for chess, which I loved as a child and need to play again. I’m sure for ‘D’ we will hear from the D & D crowd any second here…

  25. Morwenna Says:

    I’d like to add another “C” for “Candy Land.” This very easy racing board game for young children is a classic. As a babysitter, I played countless games of Candy Land!

    On to “D.” Two playground games come to mind: “Duck, duck, goose” and “Dodgeball.”

    • Daylily Says:

      Oh, I had forgotten “B” is for “Blockhead,” that game of stacking the oddly shaped blocks. Our family enjoyed that one.

  26. Quincunx Says:

    “D” is for “defenestration”. A word that doesn’t seem like it should need to exist due to such specificity but does and the world is richer for it.

  27. I refuse to apologize for USA Says:

    Yeah, and “C” could just as easily be for “Chutes and Ladders” or neighborhood classic “Capture the Flag.”

    I don’t consider Dungeons & Dragons a board game, so for “D” my choice is Dodgeball.

    • Shieldmaiden Says:

      You are right. I didn’t log the BOARDgames part, just games. In the words of Emily Latella, “Never mind”
      PS- I love Clue and now I must play it again. Thanks for bringing it up. I also have a very old one in storage somewhere with almost all the pieces LOL.

  28. I refuse to apologize for USA Says:

    EGAD! I did not mean to mimic Morwenna, who had already chosen Dodgeball and Duck-Duck-Goose! Sorry, my lady …

    OK, for D that leaves “Don’t Break the Ice!”

  29. I refuse to apologize for USA Says:

    OK, it has been long enough … guess I will spit out my choice for ‘E’.

    E is for ‘Emergency!’ the cheesy board game version of the cheesy mid-70s cult TV show of the same name (my gen loved it!). The board consisted of a city map, with spaces on the roads. Different locations were numbered, and if you were not on an Emergent Run you had to obey all traffic laws.

    The pieces were these cute little plastic fire engines (red, green, blue and yellow, of course), with each ‘station’ featuring a photo from the show! Wow! First to successfully respond to three ‘Emergency!’ calls wins.

    As this was the mid-70s there were no dice; you moved by spinning a plastic arrow around a numbered circle. And you drew a card; “Lady collapses on deck of pool. Respond to Town House, area 7.” Once you got there, you had to check to see if you were responsible for going to HOSPITAL before returning to the station. OH THE JOY!

  30. fsdthreshold Says:

    “F” is hard . . . if someone has a better one, please jump in here! All I can think of is “freeze tag,” which we played on school recess. People who were frozen would bend all sorts of physical laws by twisting, leaning, edging, or even hopping toward their team members who could tag and unfreeze them.

    But I’m confused here: “dodgeball” is a board game but “D&D” isn’t? Is there a board game version of dodgeball that I don’t know about, or does a playground count as a “board,” or. . . .? Help!

    • Daylily Says:

      “G” is for “Go to the Head of the Class,” which was part of my childhood, and, to my astonishment, is still being sold. I quote, “This is the classic boardgame of answering questions about Language, Science, Art & Music, Mathematics, History, Literature, and Geography.” As I understand the rules of this alphabet game we are playing, the games we are citing are either board games OR playground games. I never liked dodgeball. But maybe I would like the board game version of it. 🙂

  31. Morwenna Says:

    “H” is for “Hopscotch”! What a journey — or I should say a jump! — down memory lane. The girls at my elementary school used to gather in a certain area of the playground to chalk out complicated hopscotch courses.

  32. Morwenna Says:

    Fred, to answer your question, the gallant Brown Snowflake said we could name board games or playground games.

  33. fsdthreshold Says:

    Thanks, Daylily and Morwenna! Yes, I see my mistake now: I should have paid more attention to the game instructions! (You can see what kind of a Dungeon Master I was back in our Dungeons & Dragons days — eh, guys? “Rule books? Um, yeah….”)

    There’s a good proverb in Japan:
    “Even monkeys fall from trees.”
    The application I intend here is that even in one’s own comfortable element, such as reading things, one can make mistakes. Or, as our dear classics professor often quoted to us:
    “‘Sometimes even great Homer nods.'”
    (Even Homer, one of the half-dozen longest-remembered writers on the planet, was capable of falling asleep at the desk. . . .)
    [Not that I’m comparing myself to Homer — Homer Simpson, maybe — no, all in all, I’m more like the monkey that sometimes falls from the tree.] 🙂

  34. fsdthreshold Says:

    This isn’t a game, so “I” is still up for grabs, but I have to tell a playground story beginning with “I.” Back in the day (about 2nd or 3rd grade), large groups of us used to play Planet of the Apes on recess. (This mostly involved hordes of gorillas on horseback chasing down and netting hapless humans.) The first order of business was to decide who would be an ape that day, and who would be a human. If you were an ape, you had to slouch a little, walk with your knees and toes pointed outward (because that was how Roddy McDowall did it), and — if you were a chimpanzee or an orangutan — you had to speak in an English accent. (Why did most of the gorillas have American accents? Hmm. . . .) And, most importantly, if you were an ape, you had to puff out your cheeks whenever your mouth was closed, to simulate the ape muzzle.
    Anyway, I was usually an ape, a virtual reality that extended far beyond recess. I was an ape for about five years of my life, before I discovered Watership Down (but couldn’t, alas, become a rabbit).
    But one day on recess, I decided to be a human for that session. I remember exuberantly shouting at the tops of my lungs, “I’M A HUMAN!!!” I got a very funny look from a playground teacher.

  35. Morwenna Says:

    Thanks, Fred, for this hilarious story about your life as an ape! It’s looking like the topic “school recess” might make a good blog post down the road.

  36. I refuse to apologize for USA Says:

    Now we are rolling, and YES, either playground OR board games work.

    I love the reference by Daylily for “Go To the Head of the Class” (better than my choice of GNIP-GNOP!) which I still own! 🙂 and Morwenna’s “Hopscotch” is an outstanding choice for “H”. I well remember the girls at our school playing Hopscotch on recess, and boys weren’t allowed because “they can’t do it right”, which, one day to my utter embarrassment, I proved.

    “I” is a tuffie, but can it be Ice Hockey? I used to have one of those old metal hockey games, with the players moved by rods that extended under the “ice”. Can you picture it in your mind? The players would twist to shoot the little rubber puck…big fun.

  37. I refuse to apologize for USA Says:

    I was hoping I would be left K! “K” is for “Kerplunk!” Anybody remember it? A great game that I think is still in production.

    Now, as for Fred and Planet of the Apes playground … We always wanted Fred to be one of the benevolent chimpanzee primarily because he did have the best English accent! ha ha.

    The post-lunch recess was the best, because it was longer than the morning or afternoon breaks and because, rather than a teacher-organized event, you broke off with your friends and could do want you wanted (to an extent, of course).

    Fred was always one of the first on the playground. Whenever one of the ‘gang’ came out, they would race pell-mell into the group, purposefully attempting to collide with someone! Mr. GJM would race out with a steamboat whistle “whoo whoo” to annunce his arrival, I am not sure what I did. RM would come on like a train. (RM also had the habit of providing his own sound effects. Whenever we played kickball, he would run up and, at the moment of contact, loudly try and mimic and explosion, so you heard this detonation sound and saw a kick at the same time!)

  38. Morwenna Says:

    Brown Snowflake, I knew you’d help us find an “I” — it’s your letter, considering the headings on your posts.

    Daylily, “Jumanji” is a wonderful choice for “J”!

    I’ll include a playground game for “J”: Jumping Rope. I can still hear girls chanting the old jump-rope rhyme: “Spanish dancer, turn around! Spanish dancer, touch the ground!”

    “K” is for “Kickball” (not that I was any good at this game).

  39. fsdthreshold Says:

    Mr. Brown Snowflake — I’d almost forgotten how R.M. would make that explosion sound (with his mouth) every time he kicked a ball! You’re right!
    We could do a whole post on playground memories, couldn’t we?! (Note to self!!)
    Backing up briefly to H: in one of the lower elementary grades, for those times when we Stayed In For Recess (“Awwwww!”), one of the teachers introduced a game called Huckle-Buckle-Beanstalk. Did anyone else play that, or was it, as I suspect, a local phenomenon? One group of students had to go out into the hallway, and while they were gone, the other group would “hide” some small, pre-determined object in plain sight. Then the hallway kids would come back in and wander around the room looking for it. When one of them sighted it, he/she had to walk quickly back to his/her chair (teachers were always adamant about that issue of “walk, don’t run” 🙂 ) and cry out “Huckle-Buckle-Beanstalk!” If I remember right, the one who found it got to be the person in charge of hiding it next.
    It got to be really intense when two or more kids would spot the thing at once and try to out-walk each other back to their chairs. Wooo-hoooo! Once in awhile, some kid would be caught up in the excitement and zip back to his chair without having seen the object — leading to some awkward moments for the teacher, the other students, and the International Huckle-Buckle-Beanstalk Committee. . . .
    We played the same game in Miss R’s 5th-grade classroom, although she called it “Little Red Berkschneider,” because the object we hid was a little red character that she’d received from the Berkschneider family.
    Hmm — I guess that could be an L if we get desperate — but basically, we’re still looking for an L!

  40. Morwenna Says:

    “L” is for “The Game of Life” (also known as “Life”). In this classic board game, players move little plastic cars along as they journey through the ups and downs of major life events.

    It was exciting to play this game as a child, because at eight years old or so you suddenly found yourself juggling everything from jobs to babies to major financial setbacks or windfalls.

  41. I refuse to apologize for USA Says:

    Frederic: Huckle-Buckle-Beanstalk? I have NO memory of that, nor do I recall Little Red Berkschneider even though I was in Miss R’s class with you. (BTW: I thought she was decent as a teacher though I have heard other kids you had her with us say the opposite. My least fave BY FAR was Eunice DeC. who took over mid-way through third grade. And to follow that up with Mrs. N in 4th? Wow. Thank God for T.J. in 6th!)

    Ladies, great J-K-L choices!

    My choice for ‘M” is Maulball (unallowed on recess, but great in the neighborhood!). We also used to call it “Smear the Queer” but in this PC world … The jist was anywhere from 7-10 guys would gather around one football. The dude with the ball would run like heck and try not to get killed by the rest of the mob. Once he was tackled he would throw the ball to someone else, etc.. boys being boys, I guess.

    Ohh, and regressing to ‘K’. How about ‘Kick the Can?’ In this game one person guarded a can (somehow we always used a ball) while numerous others tried to race in and kick it. If the ‘keeper’ touched you first, you were out. Anybody else play this?

  42. I refuse to apologize for USA Says:


  43. Daylily Says:

    Let’s not forget that “M” is for “Monopoly.” On Christmas Day, the extended family, i.e., grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins, would gather for Christmas dinner. In the afternoon, the kids would often go sledding. The adults would talk or play games, including Monopoly. Uncle Bob usually won. One year, everyone ganged up on Uncle Bob. He lost, because no one would cooperate with him, and he got really sore about it. I think that in the succeeding years, the family chose activities other than Monopoly. :-/

  44. I refuse to apologize for USA Says:

    How in the world could I forget Monopoly? One of my all-time top 5 and I forgot it? Must be because Fred had me thinking about recess and playground games.

    Well, Daylily, Morwenna and Shieldmaiden have been by, so the ladies are well accounted for. But it has been ages since we have heard from: mileposter, tandemcat, Marquee Movies, Chris and many others. Guess the summer heat got to them.

    Who has the ‘N?’ … and don’t say “nerf!”

  45. fsdthreshold Says:

    Actually, I do have an L and a couple M’s of my own. L is also for Lawn Darts. Did anyone else play that? I understand that the game went out of production pretty quickly, because it was potentially dangerous. As I recall, it came with two yellow plastic hoops about a foot in diameter, and several darts — some of one color, some of another (yellow and red?). The game could be played by two people or two teams of people. Opponents stood at opposite ends of a lawn, like a big front yard. Each team put its hoop flat on the grass: that was the opposing team’s target. The dart was a metal shank about six inches long, with a heavy point at the front end and plastic fins to make it aerodynamic. You held it by a narrow handle emerging between the fins at the back (the tail end of the core shank), and you flung the dart with a big underhand sweep. You were trying, of course, to get your dart to land with its point piercing the ground inside the plastic hoop. Basically, the game was horseshoes with a potentially lethal weapon. I saw the game reincarnated briefly as “Yard Darts,” and then that, too, disappeared. I’m sure there were too many lawsuits over it.

    M — My favorite board game growing up was Masterpiece, the Art Auction Game! It came with bundles of paper money, like Monopoly. The biggest bill was an olive green, million-dollar bill. I loved trying to amass those when I played! There were two decks of cards: on one were full-color facsimiles of famous paintings — the Mona Lisa, American Gothic, etc. — and on the other were monetary values. You shuffled the decks each time, so in every game, any given painting had a different value. The value was clipped to the back of the painting and known only to the owner. The object was to acquire as much wealth as you could, in your combination of paintings and cash. There were auctions all the time — chances to buy paintings from the central pile or from other players. So you could lose valuable paintings — if an auction came up, you had to sell a painting to the highest bidder, and sometimes that bid wouldn’t be for nearly what the painting was worth . . . but sometimes it was for much more. Two of the paintings were forgeries, worth nothing, and one was worth a million dollars. If you got that one, you prayed for a chance to sell it to the bank before another player could buy it away from you. Sometimes it would get passed around because of various auctions, and everyone would know which painting was the million-dollar one. (Chris, I’m going to tell a story on you — remember the time you were so determined to own it that you paid two million dollars in cash for it? 🙂 In our kid world, that made some sort of sense to us!)
    Also, our family had nicknames for all the paintings — some thought of by my mom, some by me. The great paintings of history had to endure such monikers as The Gooneybirds, The Grey Mess, Somebody’s Lunch, and The Nazis Fishing. I loved that game!

    And finally, one other M: Mastermind. It was played on a long, narrow board that had ten or twelve rows of four holes each. Into each row of holes could be placed pegs of various colors. It was for two players. First, one player secretly put four pegs into a row of holes, and these were hidden behind a little shield or screen. Then the other player had 10 (or 12?) chances to try to put four pegs into a row of holes in the exact color scheme and positions as the hidden row. The first try, of course, was completely random. At each attempt, the first player had to honestly score the second player by the use of black and white pegs in a side grid. A white peg meant a correct color that was not in the right position. A black peg meant a correct color that was in the right position. So the second player had to use this “score” to deduce which colors should go where. It was a great game, but it was one that adults tended to like more than kids did. Personally, I preferred acquiring piles of million dollar bills!

    • Daylily Says:

      Yes, I liked Mastermind. We still have a copy in our basement. Now please do share, what were the real names of the four paintings you cited there for Masterpiece? Inquiring minds want to know!

    • Scott Says:

      If you don’t think that a horseshoe is a lethal weapon, you obviously never played horseshoes with me!

  46. I refuse to apologize for USA Says:

    I remember playing Masterpiece with Fred and some others … I was always the loser. Ditto Mastermind.

    I had a game called Match Three. The board was a huge plastic “X” that sloped slighty downwards toward the middle, where nine holes were open. Basically the game was tic-tac-toe. Each player (red-green-blue-yelllow of course) and a little “shooter” out of which rolled a poker-chip style piece of the same color. The object was to have tic-tac-toe when all players had gone. You could, of course, cover up an opponents chip with one of your own, so it was a “game of skill AND strategy!”

    And I still own “the Magnificent Race.” I am 44 yrs old and have never, not once, in my life encountered anyone else who either owned the game or had ever played it, and I bet no one here has either! It is as if one copy of the game was made and I own it!

    BTW: I encourage the curious to go to Google.com/images, where great pics of all these games can be seen!

    Fred: We played Lawn Darts in south side yard at my house several times. NO WAY the lawyers would let something like that go forward now!

  47. Daylily Says:

    “M” is also for “Marbola,” which was a pinball game concept, only you would shoot marbles onto the wooden board, starting at the end of the board which had a ramp to guide the marble for the start. No levers on the board, but depressions for the marbles to fall into, marked with different numbers of points. The only copy of this game I ever saw was at my grandfather’s house. He would get it out when we came and play it with us three grandchildren. I wonder whatever happened to that game.

  48. fsdthreshold Says:

    Mr. B. Snowflake: The best strategy I found for playing Masterpiece was to acquire all the paintings you could — to try to outbid everyone else at auctions, even if you ended up paying too much for some paintings. You really couldn’t win the game playing conservatively and just trying to build up cash. Almost always, the person who won had a lot of paintings, whose values really added up.

    And you’re right about Lawn Darts: I’ll bet we would shudder to know how many people actually died or were maimed playing that game. Despite printed warnings, I’m guessing a lot of people would stand right next to their own target circles while the opponents were hurling heavy, aerodynamic metal spikes at them.

    Daylily: Many apologies, but I’m afraid I don’t know/remember the real names of those paintings! (I don’t know why we weren’t more concerned with learning the proper names!) Between us, we can probably identify The Nazis Fishing: it’s a REALLY famous painting that one sees all the time . . . I think it might be by Winslow Homer . . . it shows some fishermen in rain gear on a little boat in high, violent seas; I think they’re hauling in their nets. Probably the title has something to do with “nets.” The boat looks ready to capsize. To me as a kid, the rain hats they’re wearing looked like WWII German Army helmets, so I gave it its nickname. The Grey Mess was an abstract picture of grey and black rectangles that mostly looked like the “snow” on a TV screen when there’s no program on. The Gooneybirds was another abstract — I don’t know why Mom gave it a plural name, since as I recall, it only shows one figure, very roughly humanoid, kneeling and filling most of the frame. Somebody’s Lunch was a realistic painting of some food on a table — if I had to guess, I’d say it was likely titled Still Life. Does that help at all? 🙂

  49. I refuse to apologize for USA Says:

    Maybe we should come back to ‘N’ as we dont seem to making any headway.

    ‘O” is, ouf course, for ‘Operation!’ though Tim and Scott will say ‘Othello’

    C’mon everyone—we need an N!

  50. jhagman Says:

    N is for the board game w/spinner “Nuclear War”. I saw it being played in a 24 hr game room at the old Creation Con in LA. You draw population cards, warheads, and you try to mate them up w/ appropriate delivery systems. You pick a victim “country”, spin the spinner and see what happened. The details of the game are hazy to me now, I lost the game in the separation settlement w/ my first girlfriend 30yrs ago. She also got my teddy bear and all my D&D stuff- it was a tough lesson on how to treat the opposite sex with respect, a lesson I will never forget!

  51. I refuse to apologize for USA Says:

    Ahh, the old “ex-got-it” curse. I have lost a great Blackhawks sweater (that is a hockey jersey to the non-puckheads out there), several CDs and one or two other valued possessions via the Evil Woman route. What did I “acquire?” Not a damn thing, although I DID make sure to take all the photo albums when I was divorced. (We get along fine now, and in the spirit of reconciliation there was a ‘returning’ of items held one afternoon a few years ago).

    Now that Nuclear War has taken N, and we have at least one O, we move on to P, home of Parcheesi, Payday!, Perfection and more.

    Come on gang, lets add on to already passed letters AND keep it rolling! (Shieldmaiden, you are overdue…) 🙂

    • Shieldmaiden Says:

      Yes… I am thinking. Most of the games I played weren’t boardgames. Does Pictionary count as a board-game? And I was actually waiting for ‘O’ (Operation, of course) but someone got it already. I loved that game! But I lagged. I think I’m good when we get to S.

    • Shieldmaiden Says:

      I also loved Othello!

  52. Scott Says:

    Brown Snowflake. I’m sorry if I’m jumping ahead in the alphabet, but there was a game that you used to love to play. It involved World War III and laser weapons. It was set up a little like a certain “R” game that I am sure that you are waiting for. What was the name of it?

    I am drawing a total blank on Q.

  53. I refuse to apologize for USA Says:

    Scott: Are you thinking of “Fortress America?” It was part of a series that included Axis & Allies; Shogun and Conquest (Roman Empire). I still have FA, A & A and Conquest; my brother owned Shogun and I was never able to steal it from him!

    Shieldmaiden: Yes, my dear, Pictionary is a board game; at least in my universe it is. Ditto for games like Balderdash, True Colors, Scattegories, et. al.

    The dern Q is tripping us all up, methinks. I was waiting for someone to lie and say they had a “Quincy, M.E.” game based on the old TV show, but there wasn’t one made (thank goodness). Maybe we should just get on with R …

    Hey Fred: is “Q” even a sound in Japanese, or is it like “L” and “R” and have no equivalent?

  54. Morwenna Says:

    “Q” is for “Quidditch”! There is a children’s board game called “Quidditch the Game.”

  55. fsdthreshold Says:

    Mr. B. Snowflake: That’s right — there really is no “Q” sound in Japanese. In cases of words such as “quiet,” which have widely taken hold in Japanese as imported words (like “English” words tsunami, kimono, edamame, etc.), the word is spelled phonetically with the closest Japanese sounds. “Quiet” is pronounced “koo-eye-etto.” “Question” is “koo-ess-chon.”

    I would argue that the sound in Japanese between “L” and “R” is much closer to “R” than to “L.” When we study the difference, my students are pretty good at pronouncing “R” words, but it’s much harder for them to sound natural on “L.” I’ve read that, in general, the Asian tongue is shorter, making it physically harder for Japanese people to make that tongue-touch against the gum above and behind the upper front teeth which produces the natural “L.”

    “TH” is another notoriously difficult sound for Japanese. When someone says “take a basu,” you have to figure out from context if the person is going to take a bus or a bath.

    Yes, I think I know what the prevailing “R” game is going to be, too! Students used to play it on a table in the hallway in our dormitory at Concordia.

  56. Scott Says:

    Speaking of games played in college, would Quarters count as a board game?

    My family really didn’t play board games that much. We were more into card games and solitare. We also had a jigsaw puzzle set up on a card table in the living room every winter. As soon as we finished one, we started another until Spring.

  57. I refuse to apologize for USA Says:

    And now, for the big ‘R’ … R is for Rebound! that great game with the twin rubber bands where you slid a small ball-bearing-like piece off of one rubb….

    I keed! I keed! R is, duh, for RISK! Yeah RISK!

    • Daylily Says:

      Q is also for Quizmo. And I’ll confess that I used Google to help, because I certainly couldn’t think of any games beginning with Q. R is for Rook! At my college dorm freshman year, it was Rook every night in the dorm lounge. At least, for the first few weeks, until the homework assignments got heavy. And S is for Scrabble. Great memories of playing that with my grandmother. S is also for SET, my new favorite.

  58. I refuse to apologize for USA Says:

    SORRY! S is for SORRY!

    (and for “Shenanigans” and boy, would I dearly LOVE to hear from someone who remembers that board game! Game collectors lust and will pay big money for it due to rarity and having all the pieces…if you remember playing, or even seeing it, please say so! I dearly loved it!)

  59. Marquee Movies Says:

    Hey, Teen Gang! Sorry I’ve been away so long – I’ve been reading these fun postings – I’ve just been having a very busy summer, which is such a blessing. I hope you’ll forgive me, but I’m going to interrupt the flow of the name game (Risk, Risk, Bo-bisk, Banana-fana Fo-fisk….) to quickly respond to Fred’s original post, which was (I think) asking how people celebrated their Fourth and/or other summer days. This summer, I’ve done something I’ve done every summer for the past five years or so – headed out to that bastion of Lutheranism, Fort Wayne, and visited with my great friends, David Meinzen and Richard Schwantz. I always make it a weekend where the local minor league team is in town, AND doing a fireworks show after the game. And every year, the fireworks seem to get better and better – I always think there’s new ones I’ve never seen before. I go to two games – one with just Richard and David (if he’s in town), and one with all the Schwantz and Meinzen family members – the kids love Dippin’ Dots, and running through the fountain, and climbing this cool tower they have in the activity section – plus ice cold beer, great hotdogs, soft-serve swirl ice cream cones, some of the greatest friends ever – plus, it’s a GREAT ballpark – the Fort Wayne Tin Caps play there – named for Johnny Appleseed, who is buried nearby – I’ve been to his gravesite!
    And I finally did something I say every summer, I should DO this! Which is, I went back for a second weekend – careful planning allowed me out a second time, and with the exception of no David (he is a chaplain at an army base elsewhere in the state), it was a lovely weekend. Even though the final game, with just me and Richard, got rained out, it didn’t happen till the seventh inning. It was still a lovely night out, the kids had had a great time the night before, we had had our fill of great food, and losing the fireworks simply made me appreciate the three earlier exhibitions all the more. On our way out, there was actual lightning and thunder rumbling all around, and on the large screen over the outfield, they played the Muppets singing “Bohemian Rhapsody.” What a summer night! What a series of summer nights! Life is for the living!
    And prayers and blessings and thanks go to David, who will ship out to Afghanistan soon, for three weeks, to minister to soldiers. And finally, I was watching scenes from that marvelous Hal Ashby film tonight, “Harold and Maude,” featuring the great music of Cat Stevens – the powerful sequence that concludes the film is set to his song “Trouble,” which I believe fits the next letter in your quest for game titles.

  60. I refuse to apologize for USA Says:

    It does indeed, MM and thanks for a sharing a wonderful post with us. We have missed you (even us militant conservative Catholics) 🙂

    Trouble was one of those “pop” games with the die in a bubble, placed in the middle of the board, that you depressed and “pop” came your result. I know there was at least one other similar game with the popping die but I cannot recall it.

    Toss-Across (tic-tac-toe with little bean bags) was fun, too. And before Scott gets on me, yes, I realize I missed Stratego for S. 😦

  61. I refuse to apologize for USA Says:

    Hey, one last thing, Marquee: Des Moines is home to an NBDL league team (this is the highest level ‘minor’ league for the NBA). The are (sadly), the Iowa Energy.

    Fort Wayne, however, is the Mad Ants. Great name, Mad Ants! Even cooler logo!

  62. I refuse to apologize for USA Says:

    Wel, the moment the blog has been waiting for is coming soon, as Mr. Brown Snowflake (he who precipitates brown fluid across the landscape) is going on vacation and thus will be away from the blog.

    SOOOO, nyah nyah nyah na na to Fred, as I will be gorging myself on multiple occasions at Taco Gringo. Late-night besotted burgers at Bill’s Toasty will also be on tap, as will pizza at Angelo’s. I will stop by the Durbin homestead on Old Oak Rd and check on the property and the crop. I intend to look you up, Scott, when I am in town and also mean to drop in on the thief Brinn Tenser’s folks. Fred, I will check in on Aunt Ruth if you can email me her address again ASAP.

    • Shieldmaiden Says:

      Have a fantastic trip Mister Snowflake! We will cover for you while you are away and finish up the alphabet so you have something to read when you get back (ha ha ha). I hope you have a wonderful vacation. You will be missed here.

    • Scott Says:

      So, you’re ready for your recommended annual allowance of grease at Bill’s? Sounds good. I haven’t been there for a while.

      Angelo’s has changed quite a bit since we were kids. Don sold the business a couple of years ago to the guy that owns the Pizza Mans in Pana and Shelbyville.

      Give me a call.

    • Chris Says:

      Angelo’s Pizza isn’t the same anymore. Apparently it was sold to a new owner and I don’t think the flavor is the same.

      As for Bill’s Toasty, you and my brother can have it. I never got into Bill’s. Maybe if the they had opted to use paint on the walls instead of 150 year old grease.

  63. Scott Says:

    R is for Red Rover. Red Rover Red Rover send Brown Snowflake right over. Great playground game from my childhood. I assume that this game is still around.

    T is for TiddlyWinks. Some of the games that I had as as kid are coming back on the store shelves, but this isn’t one of them. You had large round chips the size of a half-dollar and small chips the size of a nickel or quarter, but they were much thinner. You took the edge of the large chip and pressed down on the edge of the small chip. If you did it right, the small chip would flip up in the air. You tried to get the small chip to land in a cup in the center.

    In shopping for my grandson, I see games that we had when we were kids that they are coming back out with. We bought him a Barrell Full of Monkeys last year for Christmas and of course the Etch-A-Sketch is still around.

  64. Daylily Says:

    “U” is for “Ungame,” which is a non-competitive game of sharing one’s thoughts, based on cards that one draws. I’ve had some good conversations due to the Ungame.

  65. I refuse to apologize for USA Says:

    Thanks, dearest Shieldmaiden. Scott — I will certainly be in touch. I am leaving work now, at 1 a.m. CDT Weds. Have to come back in for 15-30 mins around 9 am and then I am off! Who-hee!

    Maybe when I check back in 11 days from now there will (ahem) be a new (ahem) post.

    Don’t let the dialogue and sharing die guys! Keep rolling!


  66. Scott Says:

    OK Fred. We’ve hit 100 comments. You can put the new post up now.

  67. fsdthreshold Says:

    I’ve actually had the new post ready for a few days, but I held off from publishing it because I didn’t want to interrupt the game. After I proofread it, it should be up sometime tomorrow.

    Scott! Your “grandson”?! My hands are clamped over my ears. No one my age should have grandchildren! (But congrats on having one!)

    Daylily: the Ungame sounds great! I love the idea of a non-competitive game!

    Red Rover — I loved it, but that’s got to be right up there with Lawn Darts for danger to human life. Broken wrists, dislocated shoulders, ruptured spleens. . . .

    Etch-a-Sketch! I always thought they were cool, but I never had one.

    • Chris Says:

      I’m still reeling from a friend from college who’s son just went off to college. His son is now technically older than Grant and I were when we met.

      No grandkids yet tho’, thank heavens.

    • Scott Says:

      Then you probably won’t want to hear that I also have 2 granddaughters and twin grandsons on the way. Actually, they are my stepchildren’s children. I don’t have any biological children (THAT I KNOW OF) of my own.

      But Fred, we are in our mid-40’s. It would not be out of range at all for us to be grandparents. In fact, I know that several of our classmates are grandparents.

      • fsdthreshold Says:

        Yeah, yeah, I know, I know. . . . It’s just. . . . I prefer living in hobbit-time, in which (for Bilbo and Frodo) all Great Adventures start at age 50. . . .

  68. Chris Says:

    Speaking of board games: “J” is for the “Jonny Yum-Yum Game”.

    Let me explain.

    In college a friend and I decided to torment a friend named Jon. So one day we bought a candy-mold as well as some chocolate and various other unpleasant food-based materials. We somehow put these materials together and molded the chocolate-type-material in the candy molds and set them. Ironically the material was completely inedible and almost indestructible, however when you set a piece on a surface it left a greasy brown stain.

    Here’s where the “Game” comes in:

    My friend and I named these “items” “Jonny Yum-Yum’s” mainly to torment another friend Jon (no real reason needed). One day Bill and I decided that a new game should be developed utilizing the “candy” as playing pieces.

    Bill who specialized in making game boards of various types put one together for this and I illustrated it. It was basically completely stupid on every level (imagine two bored college guys). And of course after one play of the game the board was covered with a disgusting greasy brown scum over the crudely drawn illustrations.

    It was a horrible mess.

    A few months later my dad came to visit (he was retired at the time and had free time so he drove over to visit and stay a day or two). One day while I was out at class for whatever reason my dad decided to attempt to “clean” the apartment by throwing some things out that looked like trash. Of all the things he DIDN’T identify as trash (no small feat in a college guy’s apartment) was the “Jonny Yum-Yum Game” board.

    Why my dad would think it appropriate to clean my apartment was a mystery but moreso why he would think that the J-Y-Y game board was a “keeper” was a bigger mystery and one that will never be answered now.

  69. Chris Says:

    S is for “Snatch-22”. One of my roommates in college was a big board gamer. He actually was an exceptionally tactical person and played any number of games all the time.

    This is NOT the same guy from the previous game story (J-Y-Y). This guy actually was a high level gamer-type.

    Grant and I were one day marvelling at our other roommate, Mike, who seemed to have an amazing ability to get women to want to date him. We never figured out what it was.

    So we came up with a D&D type game called “Snatch-22” in which we ginned up various “player cards” for the women in our ciricle of friends who had dated Mike. And the object of the game was for the players to take the role of one of the women and attempt to accumulate 22 points at which point Mike would propose marriage.

    (Dear god in heaven I apologize for the blatant sexism of this game, it was not intended to insult the women but rather to poke Mike).

    The game actually had a goodly amount of tactical components thanks to Grant. We enlisted one of our friends who was a cartoonist for the university newspaper to illustrate the game as well. We found a nice box and put the whole thing together.

    There were “roaming monsters” that would occasionally, on a proper roll of the dice, show up and “ruin the moment”. Among those were some of our other friends like Rob who would come over and never leave, or McGee who would come over and try to start weird conversations. Or myself walking in and just wanting to be in my apartment and watch TV etc.

    We actually got many of the women in our circle of friends to play it! It got played a couple times.

    Mike wasnt’ fond of it.

    25 Years Later I found the original instructions and playing cards and make a “25th Anniversary Edition” of the game and sent it out to folks in 2007.

  70. fsdthreshold Says:

    Chris, those stories are hilarious! I remember many of the tales of you and your college friends — the songs you guys wrote (complete with back-masking), the TPing, the guy who could “sense pressure” on the geologic fault and would actually point to the spot on the floor beneath which the fault was stressed. . . .

    Now, that Snatch-22 game . . . was that the same one in which players drove their “car” piece around the game board and attempted to “Pick Up Women,” represented by colored pegs in the back seat? As I recall, one could “Lose Women” to various mishaps, then regain them with lucky dice rolls or by drawing the right card. Or was that game called “Cruising”? Or maybe “Cruisin'”?

    • Chris Says:

      Geez now I feel really scummy. Sadly, no that’s not the same game. The “Cruisin'” Game was another one built with Bill. The Bill games were usually more crude (not that Bill was actually crude but together we delved into our baser instincts of stupidity, with Grant we usually went for higher levels of intellectual stupidity).

      That could also explain Bill and my other game, “Risque”, in which we bought one of the “cheesecake” posters of a scantily clad woman and divided it up into “countries” like on a map and basically played “Risk” on it.

      As I said while none of us were particularly sexist or held any misogynistic tendencies, these were merely opportunities to be rude, offensive and exceedingly stupid. Which is really what we were going for at that time.

      To show my “sensitive new age guy credentials”: I’m married to a woman who spent a few years working for a grass-roots organization to re-introduce the ERA into Congress.

  71. I return Says:

    Daylily’s “ungame” was the last listed, so we need a “V”. I call “Which Witch?” for “W” but confess to being stumped on “V”. C’mon gang!

  72. Scott Says:

    You forgot about Whiffleball.

    Y is for Yahtzee.

    So, we still need V, X, and Z. The toughest letters in any of these games.

  73. Shieldmaiden Says:

    I was waiting for Y cuz Yahtzee is my game. I like triple Yahtzee the best. And Z is for Ziltch. It’s a game you play with dice in case you haven’t heard of it. Really fun! I am totally lost on V. I’m also lost on X for that matter but V is next so I’ll worry about X later. V?????

  74. I return Says:

    Is it not funny/odd how the world works? I loved Which Witch and could not wait for W to bring it up, but Whiffleball was KING, and I mean KING in our neighborhood. I probably played, between the ages of 8-14, more whiffleball than any other sport or game.

    A column I wrote on the whiffleball/neighborhood games of our youth (available upon request if you have my email) won third place in the Iowa Newspaper Federation contest in 2007 for “Best Sports Column.”

    X is always a bee-otch, and Y certainly is tossing us a curve this time. Y could be Yard-darts, as Fred already mentioned (they were officially named “yard darts” not “lawn darts”).

    Maybe we just blow off X, huh?

    • fsdthreshold Says:

      I for one would love to read your column on whiffle ball and neighborhood games! Should I make an additional request by e-mail? 🙂 Amazingly, I don’t think I’ve ever played whiffleball!

  75. Morwenna Says:

    From Wiki: “Xiangqi is a two-player Chinese board game in the same family as Western chess . . . “

    • fsdthreshold Says:

      Good find, Morwenna! And I’ll back you up with a redundant X, just in case: on the school playground, I know we played a lot of “X-wings,” which mainly involved running full-speed, making the X-wing fighter engine noise, and using a lot of imagination.

      Reflecting on the engine noises of Star Wars: did you ever notice how X-wings sound a little like a dentist’s drill, and TIE fighters sound like the water vacuum a dentist uses? When we were kids making our cassette-tape audio dramatizations, I remember using an electric adding machine to create “blaster” noises: kuh-CHOW! Kuh-CHOW!. But wow, if we’d had access to dentistry equipment. . . .

  76. I return Says:

    Fred: One column, on its way!

    Morwenna to the rescue! Thanks, m’lady.

    I do believe Y is still open.

    As for Star Wars: Even as a youngster I thought it unusual that the explosion of the Death Star was less magnificient than the destruction of the final TIE fighter (by Han) sent to give chase after the escape from the Death Star.

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