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1945_10_06--026_SP [Game Maker]

George S. Parker plays Camelot with his daughter, Sally Barton. As he developed the game, it isn't surprising that he frequently wins. PHOTOGRAPHY BY BOB GARLAND 71-r The jig-saw puzzle, which swept the country in 1909, staged a comeback in 1932. These women, paid by the piece, cut 1400 pieces a day. Game Maker By PETE MAWLIN TrLTON LEWIS, JR., the radio commentator, was playing a game called Finance with his eleven-year-old daughter. The game dealt with such matters as stocks and bonds and bank balances and credits, oddments which seemed, to Lewis, tough meat for an eleven-year-old mind to chew on. But they seemed tough only until he examined the set of rules that had come packed with the game and found them almost absurdly easy to understand. At the same time, someone had sent him a sixteen-page booklet of OPA rules written for the guidance of merchants engaged in the buying and selling of coffee. These OPA rules were as opaque as the grounds caked in a section gang's Java pot. The next night, on the radio, Lewis drew a comparison between the two sets of instructions. He mentioned that he had shown both bits of writing to William M. Jeffers, then the country's rubber czar, whose immediate reaction had been, " Let's get the man who wrote those game rules down here in Washington. We can use a man who can write that simply and clearly." The Finance game had been improved and the rules had been rewritten by George Parker, of Salem, Massachusetts. Parker is a courtly, ruddycheeked, seventy-eight-year-old gentleman, so modest that he himself would not supply this information about the Lewis broadcast and begged not to have it used. It was an unhappy break for the coffee sellers of the country when he couldn't comply with Jeffers' suggestion. Parker's offices were depleted of manpower. Among those gone to war were two of his highest officials, his son-inlaw, Lieut. Robert Barton, and his nephew, Lt. Comdr. Edward Parker, who was busy sinking Jap subs in the Pacific. To fill the family breach, George Parker had come out of semi-retirement to head the company he founded sixty-two years Played any good games lately? If so, the chances are that, like Monopoly and Camelot, they were dreamed up by George S. Parker, of Salem, Massachusetts. ago, Parker Brothers, Incorporated, the world's largest maker of games. Barton has returned to Salem now, and has been made president, but once back in harness, Parker finds it hard to shuck the habits of a lifetime, and still sits down eagerly at his desk every morning. Parker Brothers' games are played on livingroom tables, on card tables or in front of fireplaces with the players comfortably hunkered down on hearthrugs. Most decidedly they are not the ones played along the midways at carnivals or in the cubicles bordering the boardwalk at Coney Island. The chances are that one or more of the brightly boxed games you tucked under the Christmas tree last December bore a Parker Brothers, Salem, Massachusetts, trade-mark, just as, in all likelihood, did the ones your parents and their parents before them brought out of hiding on Christmas Eve. Salem is a picture-post-card New England town, roof-deep in Americana. On a bleak near-by hillside in 1692, nineteen citizens were hanged during the witchcraft delusions of that period. It was in Salem that the first armed resistance to British authority occurred, antedating—though bloodlessly— Lexington and Concord. And in Salem that Hawthorne wrote The Scarlet Letter and The House of the Seven Gables, and Graham Bell invented and first talked on the telephone. In the late seventeen hundreds, full-rigged ships and cockleshell barks left its wharves for India and far Cathay. They returned with goods which their owners translated into some of the loveliest homes in America. Salem is also the birthplace of American games. As far back as 1830, a firm named W. & S. B. Ives made a game there called The Mansion of Happi- ness. The Mansion was devised by a Miss Abbott, a clergyman's daughter residing in Beverly, Mas- sachusetts, and it was offered, forbiddingly enough, as "an instructive, moral and entertaining amusement." It was a "track" game: That is, men or counters were moved along a track following the numbers on a spinner. It was also the first " board game " published in America. The term " board game " means what it says—a game printed on a pasteboard base. Dice were not thrown before milking a move in Miss Abbott s game. Even as late as twenty years ago, there were numerous parents who held that dice were instruments of the devil. Especially was this true in the Middle West, from which locality papas and mammas wrote to game makers, protesting the sin of putting dice into small grubby hands. Playing The Mansion of Happiness, a contestant started at a square embellished with a figure of Justice, turned the spinner and moved his counter the number of squares indicated. If the counter reached Cruelty, he had to go back to Justice and start all over again. If, in the course of play, it reached Idleness, he had to go back to Poverty, which could not have surprised the children of the 1830's and '40's, since everybody knew that was the way things worked out in real life. If he became a Sabbath Breaker, the player lost three turns. If, however, he reached Piety, Honesty, Temperance, Humility or other squares labeled with similar worthy qualities, he could advance six whole squares more than indicated by the spinner, toward the Mansion of Happiness. The game was printed from a wood block. It was hand-colored, and the wood engraver had decorated the goal, the Mansion, with a group of what he obviously intended to be comely young women— a bit of worldliness he must have slipped over on Miss Abbott when she wasn't looking The Mansion was among the first games that George Parker purveyed. He obtained it when, in 1887, he took over what had been the Ives business. His very first game was called Banking.


1945_10_06--026_SP [Game Maker]
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