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Fri, Oct. 18

Graham: Game-time: Good clean fun or cruisin’ for a bruisin’?

School’s out and temperatures are rising, which means students all around have hours of free time on their hands.

For today’s kids, filling time with cellphone videos, gaming systems and video chats with their friends probably are the favorite options on their list of summer vacation activities. Obviously, when I was growing up, our choices were a lot more “primitive”, but we still managed to survive.

After we moved to Oklahoma, many of our summer days started with golf, but afternoon temperatures often soared over 95 degrees — with ever-present humidity — meaning afternoon fun almost always occurred indoors.

Luckily for my poor mother, we were pretty good at entertaining ourselves without constant supervision. You could put us in a room with a board game, add in a few occasional snacks and we were good.

Our go-to games were staples such as Sorry and Clue, but for epic, all-day play, nothing could beat Monopoly and Risk. Some days started with breakfast and shifted immediately to a board set up in the back room, sometimes with us still dressed in our pajamas. No shortcuts; we all started with nothing and played until he had a winner.

With hours of play, we sometimes filled in slow points with mindless pranks. One day Chris, the middle one, decided to use a tape r ecorder to record malaprops and silly statements by everyone.

We were playing Monopoly and Steve, the youngest, was in the midst of another unfulfilled quest to collect the Park Place-Boardwalk monopoly (a regular occurrence). After another fruitless pass of Go, steam was coming out of Steve’s ears, so Chris asked him what he would do if he actually landed on Park Place and finally achieve his dream. “Not gonna buy it!” Steve shouted. Chris, of course, had anticipated an outburst and had recorded what Steve said. Needless to say, the rest of the game was peppered with replays of “Not gonna buy it!” I thought it was funny as heck; Steve disagreed, of course, and did not land on Park Place.

But for all the tussles over the streets of Atlantic City in Monopoly and the world in Risk, the game that brought out the biggest arguments was Happy Days. Loosely based on the TV show, the game called for players draw “Cruisin’” cards, head down to places such as Arnold’s drive-in, the beach or out on a date, then spend your allowance and collect cool points. Get enough cool points and reach the top of the jukebox and you were the winner. Sounds simple, right?

Wrongamundo, nerd! As part of the game, you could challenge other players to a drag race, with the winner getting cool points; a loss cost you a cool point. This meant that if a player was on the doorstep of winning, you could challenge them to a drag race and block them. Hard feelings and the inevitable shouting match usually ensured. More than once, Mom had to come down the hall and take away the game before World War III broke out.

No matter what happened, by the next morning all was forgiven and the next game started.

I’m glad to say I passed on my love of games to my kids as they grew up. They hold game nights with their friends, but the titles have moved well past the classics that we played growing up. Cards Against Humanity and Exploding Kittens are their favorites.

But no matter the game, the most important thing remains what kept my brothers and I entertained all those years ago: comradery, fellowship and the challenge. And the occasional drag race for cool points, of course.

Doug Graham is the Community Editor for The Daily Courier. He can be reached at

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