Saturday, November 5, 2011

The Color of Money

You might have noticed that all my recent posts about warmth and coziness focused on images that are from the distant past. Hmm, whaddaya know. Anyway, here is an item that bridges the past with the present for warm and cozy feelings.

Monopoly, as we know it, has a history going back to 1935 as a Parker Bros game, and has a pre-history beyond that to around 1904. Yet it's a game that every generation since has cherished as a social encounter, with spirited and sometimes epic proportions. I have warm memories, as a young lad, playing with my family—and now warm memories are in the making, as we play with our daughter. And it probably will be for her and her kids someday.

The color of money! I have vivid memories, as a very little guy, of the enjoyment I had from just seeing the multi-colored Monopoly money. Every time we opened the set I had to fan out the money and just enjoy the harmony of the hues. Every time I made a financial transaction with someone I enjoyed the aesthetic experience of the exchanging of the bills, just because of the colors.

The deeds were likewise fascinating because of their color coding. The ones without colors didn't seem as enticing to own.

My favorite part of the game was passing GO, just to always receive that stipend of $200. We should have that in real life. Everytime we pass GO, um, let's say every January 1, every man woman and child should receive a stipend, and with cost of living increases, that should be oh I dunno, $7500? Wouldn't that be a lovely way to begin each year? Or to spread it out, it could be on each of our birthdays. Wouldn't that make older people appreciate their birthdays more?

When I play, many times I'll draw the above Chance card, and inevitably most of the time it's when somebody else owns it and has a dozen hotels on it. Then the memory isn't quite so warm. Oh well, it's only Monopoly money, ey?

And oh, I feel like I constantly draw the above Chance card in real life. Car repairs, a crown for my tooth, every g--d--- tax season. Just can't get ahead.

And in the game I end up in Jail all the time, but hardly ever draw the above card. One day I found an extra one of these cards in some old papers, and I put it in my wallet. I figure it may or may not be valid if I end up in Jail in real life, but at least it'll be worth a laugh to the arresting officer.


Will Shetterly said...

I shared your comment about passing Go because I hadn't realized that a form of Basic Income shows up here. I'm hopeful that some form of it might come out of the Occupy protests. Martin Luther King said, "I am now convinced that the simplest approach will prove to be the most effective -- the solution to poverty is to abolish it directly by a now widely discussed measure: the guaranteed income."

Thomas Haller Buchanan said...

Will, thanks for picking up and reposting on that.

LJR said...

I totally agree with you on the color coded deed cards. Owning the railroads or utilities didn't feel as fun as owning a matching set of colors.

Fun memories. :-)

Annie said...

Hi Thom,

I have very fond memories of playing monopoly, with my brothers and sisters, or the whole family. I never thought about it until now, but the colors of the money really were appealing; and I loved the hotels and motels, and all the little metal figures, especially the boot, and the feel of them touching spots as you moved around the board. Thank you for reminding me!

Daniel [] said...

The last time I saw a Monopoly set, the paper money had been replaced by an electronic transfers system. My fiancée and I agreed that much of the pleasure would be absent.

My paternal grandfather believed that the state should give everyone a million dollars ever year, and a new car every second year. As an economist, I don't much recommend attempting a humane economy in a confusion of legal tender with value.

Jim Fetter said...

I heard that my friend. Monopoly was part of my upbringing, and shaped my understanding of financial understanding of things like paying rent, utilities, and more as a small child. I enjoyed hours of family fun sitting around the game board with my family.
Sad today's kids don't, or won't play board games like our generation did before the computer age, they will never have those memories as we do.
And even though I make my living because of the computer, and it let's me work from home 100% of the time, I know today's children will never know that family closeness and bond I did as a child. That fact is a sad outcome of our computer age.
You are wise to play the game with your child, giving her that closeness and understanding of what family is all about in a digital fake world we now live in.
Peace to you and yours my friend.

Thomas Haller Buchanan said...

My daughter, barely 19, loves her laptop and her smart phone and is versed in all the e-games. Yet, when she's home, she comes to us and says—hey guys, let's play Clue, or Scrabble, or Monopoly.

Where did we, as parents, go right?