Monday, April 26, 2010

Old Fashioned Games or Why the Easter Bunny and I are Tight.

At the end of the 19th century, early mornings and evenings, in the old farmhouse, were still lit by candles or kerosene. Electricity wasn't rolled out to rural Ontario until sometime in the 20's. Entertainment was still the old fashioned kind, nothing requiring a plug or a battery. During this final pre-hydro era, a new game had been created and quite possibly it made its way around to the old farmhouse during the next decade or two long before hydro electricity found its way here.

In 1883 the game Halma was created by an American professor from Boston, Dr George Monks. The name Halma, which is Greek for jump was coined by Monk's father-in-law Dr Thomas Hill. Let me just say, those Greeks have left an indelible mark on our world today. I know this because ancient civilizations are a hot topic in the grade five curriculum here. I've really enjoyed repeating grade five again; it has been interesting year. I've learned more about ancient Greece than I did the first time around. Grade four, however, wasn't quite so much fun.

Halma quickly changed to become Chinese Checkers. And you thought it came from China. I know, so did I.

When I was a little girl, I remember occasionally visiting my great-grandmother. I have few memories of her home but I do remember that she had a tiny little stool with a floral tapestry type fabric on it, on which I would sit, while I anxiously waited for her to pull out her game of Chinese checkers. Whether it mesmerized me for hours, I can't recall but I do recall always playing it when I was there. It must have been an old game as my mom also has memories of playing it when she was a little girl.

Photo from Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, FSA-OWI Collection,

Fast forward to present day. Don't you think if the old farmhouse has been rekindled with a little bit of authenticity like the silhouettes that even more authenticity would be, you know, even better? Oh goody, I'm so glad you agree! This is why I put a word in with Le Grand Lapin. You know the furry guy who brings chocolate and eggs and chocolate eggs. There are times, however, when chocolate won't always do. Hard to believe, I know. I'll probably regret saying that someday. But here and now, Monsieur Hoppy had three cavities to deal with or should I say, he had to deal with someone who was dealing with three cavities. Down right embarrassing if you want to know. And I know you're probably surprised to realize that he does care about such things. Why, yes indeed, he does! That's why when we bumped ears (his are quite large, it was an honest mistake) at the thrift store, I pointed out a little wooden Chinese checker game available for $1.99 and casually mentioned it might just be the substitute he was looking for. He twitched his nose and said, "I'll think about it".

So, on Easter morning, after nobody had settled in the night previously for a long winter's nap and there also arose no clatter but what to my wondering eyes did appear? Why a wooden board with pegs in 6 different shiny colours. I knew he liked me! I could tell, I could see it in the way his bum wiggled when he hopped away. Yes, the Easter Bunny and I are tight. And while the game wasn't for me...

I am seriously addicted.
It's the best $2 he ever spent.

~Be well friends~


Unknown said...

I played chinese checkers at my grandmothers in south TX growing up! Loved this game! And now my girls do. Some things are just classics.

Debbie said...

Oh we played hours of Chinese checkers when I was growing up.

Mary, Windy Meadows Farm said...

I didn't play Chinese checkers, but will have to learn! There's nothing like bringing a bit of much-needed unplugged play into today's world. Agreed...the Easter Bunny made a wise choice!

Jenny said...

We played Chinese checkers all the time when we were younger and even introduced it to our children! What a fun trip down memory lane :) Thanks for the great post!

Flat Creek Farm said...

What a great gift from the E. Bunny! I may have actually played CC in the past... not sure. I did play many marble games on a specially drilled board, and we played caroms (sp?) - lots of that! Oh, those were the days. -Tammy

Jenny said...

I am the Grandma that won't buy toys with batteries. I tell them they need to power things with their imagination.

I really miss when the kids were still here, we would play games all the time.

Carom was one of the big ones we played when we were kids. Remember how your index finger would get so sore?