At Christmastime and birthdays, Gilda had a knack for picking the best games for her presents. If someone else had, by sheer luck, asked for a game that turned out to be amazing, she found a way to acquire it. Accordingly, she wound up as the proprietor of Monopoly, Masterpiece, The Thing Machine, Freight Factory, and several other popular children’s distractions of the era – the era being the early-to-mid 1970s.
As if instinctively, Gilda’s games were the most fun, the most cleverly conceived by Monsieurs Milton and Bradley, Madame Mattel, and Herr Hasbro and, therefore, the most desired by my other siblings and me. All the other games we had acquired between us were second class: we had The Game of Life (boring!), Voice of the Mummy (lame!), Hi-Ho Cherrio (baby game!), Battleship (too butch – even for the twins), Which Witch? (my personal favorite because it involved actually building a witch’s house, and I was an aspiring architect – so don’t go hatin’ on it), and some of the other machine-based devices that cooked “goop” into “Incredible Edibles,” “Creepy Crawlers,” or random dinosaurs. (None of those machine-based games would be allowed on the market today, since I’m sure more than a few hapless American kids got scalded or maimed using them – the Good Old Days!).
Upstairs, Gilda also had the best closet. Glenda, her identical twin, had a similar closet (both were walk-ins) but Gilda’s had a panel cut into a wall that gained her access to a piece of the attic. This was primo real estate. Each of the twins vied for “members” (read: Dickie and me) into their exclusive “clubs,” which met in their respective closets. If she was feeling uncharacteristically charitable, Gilda would invite Glenda, Dickie, and me into the expansive attic portion of her closet – for our ‘meetings,’ which entailed consuming toast, coffee-milk, reading, drawing, and sometimes, guitar-playing and singing. The only real drawback to being invited into Gilda’s special atelier, was the damned ANGEL HAIR! UGGGGGGH! If you’ve never experienced the sensation of thousands of minuscule bits of what is essentially glass cutting into your delicate skin, you’ve not lived.
ALL of that gamesmanship aside, it was Canasta – an “old ladies” card game – that reigned supreme as the distraction of choice for my siblings and me in between our chores at our family’s little motel in Eunice, Louisiana. Canasta kept us in its thrall for hours, and sometimes, days. It was played around Momma’s dining room table (didn’t your mom say stuff like, “Don’t go messing up my dining room table, or “…my clean kitchen, etc.? – Ours surely did.) There’s a lot more on what happened during those long hours playing cards in my upcoming book Stone Motel – Memoirs of a Cajun Boy (scheduled for publication by the University Press of Mississippi in 2020 – you may now genuflect accordingly to the awesomeness of this).
I suspect every one of you reading this now has a story or two to tell about how you amused yourself as a kid. Lemme know in the comments section.
PS: For those of you lured in by the title of this post on this World Pride Day, expecting something about the gay thing – Have a deservedly PROUD Pride, Y’all! Please FOLLOW me by filling in the form below.
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