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Tuesday, February 07, 2012

February 7, 1935

We're going back in time to our earliest date yet since the Tuesday Timeline. February 7, 1935.

But before we go back in time to see what was so significant about this date in history, let's take a look at some of the other significant events that have happened on this date.

There were quite a few famous people who were born on February 7. Among them are James Spader, Garth Brooks, Robert Smigel, Robyn Lively, Jason Gedrick, Eddie Izzard, Steve Nash, Ashton Kutcher, and Tina Majorino.

Some famous people have died on February 7. Physicist Galileo Ferraris, tire manufacturer Harvey Firestone, blues guitarist Guitar Slim, rapper Big Pun, actress/singer Dale Evans, and Jack Cover (inventor of the taser), all passed away on this date.

And, February 7 was quite the busy day in history as well. Some of the events that happened on this date are as follows.

It was on this date in...

1863 – HMS Orpheus sinks off the coast of Auckland, New Zealand. 189 people lose their lives.

1900 - British troops fail in third attempt to lift Siege of Ladysmith during Second Boer War.

1904 – A fire destroys 1,500 buildings in a little over a day in the city of Baltimore, Maryland.

1940 - “When you wish upon a star!” Walt Disney's Pinocchio debuts in theaters.'

1962 – The United States bans all Cuban imports and exports.

1974 – The nation of Grenada gains independence from the United Kingdom.

1986 – Haitian president Jean-Claude Duvalier flees, ending a 28 year rule by the family. Exactly five years later, the first democratically-elected president, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, is sworn in.

1995 – Ramzi Yousef, the mastermind of the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center in New York City, is arrested in Pakistan.

2009 – Australian bushfires in Victoria kill 173 (including Australian presenter Brian Naylor), in what would be known as the country's worst ever natural disaster.

So, as you can see, February 7 was quite a tumultuous date in history, depending on where in the world you might have been at the time.

But today's posting is one that is somewhat on the lighthearted side. As stated before, we're going back to the year 1935 for this edition of the Tuesday Timeline. It's when a board game was invented. A board game that has been subject to many updates and versions over the years, but the classic version remains the most popular and beloved.

A board game that has evoked a lot of infighting at my household.

The board game is Parker Brothers “Monopoly”. And, would you believe that I managed to find an online version of Monopoly to post in this blog? All you need to do is click HERE to play it, if you like.

Anyway, while the first game of Monopoly was invented on February 7, 1935, its history can apparently be traced back to the early 1900s. In 1904, an American woman named Elizabeth J. Magie Phillips filed a patent for a game in which she hoped could explain the single tax theory of Henry George (intending to illustrate the negative aspect of concentrating land in private monopolies). Her game, “The Landlord's Game” was created and commercially published in 1906, with a revised version put out in 1924 (including street names). It is said that the 1924 version of the game was the version that would later inspire the game known as “Monopoly”.

Actually, the whole story behind the creation of Monopoly is a rather complex and interesting tale. Much too interesting for me to even attempt to condense into one blog entry. But, if you'd like to read a more detailed account of how Monopoly came to be, please click on the link below.

And, yes, while I know that it's from Wikipedia, the footnotes at the bottom do back up said information. Seriously, if you get a chance to look at it, it's really a great read.

Besides, the history of Monopoly is not what I really want to discuss in this blog entry. Instead, I kind of want to make this blog entry more personal. To celebrate the 77th anniversary of the classic board game, I thought that I'd share some of my own personal memories of playing this game.

It's filled with the triumph of having hotels on Boardwalk, the anguish of not getting to be the playing piece that I wanted to be, and the funny ways that I attempted to pronounce street names.

I guess I should explain that one of my first experiences with Monopoly was when I was seven years old. My sister had gotten the board game for a Christmas gift, and of course, I wanted to play.

One problem. At age seven, I had no idea how to play the game. I had no concept of deeds, or utilities, or houses, or even what it meant when you landed on 'Free Parking'. I think that when I was younger, all I wanted to do was own all of the blue and purple properties, because those properties were my favourite colours. And, if anyone else that I played with bought any blue and purple properties, I would get very, very upset.

(And with good reason, considering that two of the blue properties were Boardwalk and Park Place, which were the two most expensive properties in the whole game. Of course, Mediterranean Avenue and Baltic Avenue were the two most worthless properties, so I guess it kind of balanced out.)

(Then again, in newer versions of the game, Mediterranean and Baltic Avenue are now brown, which to me is just weird. But, then again, I think that our version of Monopoly was one of the only ones in which the Chance cards were blue in colour and not orange.)

But, enough rambling.

As I explained before, when I was younger, my only concern was collecting the properties of my favourite colours. But as I grew older, my siblings taught me what the real purpose of the game was. The purpose was to try and buy properties at low prices, and develop them with houses and hotels. But, you couldn't just build a house on North Carolina Avenue whenever you felt like it. There were rules that you had to follow. If one only owned one green property, then one couldn't build anything on it. You could charge people rent if they landed on the space you owned, but that's all you could do. And, at the most, you'd be lucky to earn a little over twenty dollars. But, if one were to own Pacific and Pennsylvania Avenue in addition, then one would have a monopoly of all three green properties, and then and only then could you build houses and hotels. And, once houses and hotels were built on properties, their value would double, triple, or quadruple in total.

Let's put it this wouldn't want to land on Boardwalk where there is a hotel on it. For one, the rent would be over two thousand dollars. And, well, considering that one begins the game of Monopoly with only fifteen hundred dollars, well, you best hope that the Community Chest has been good to you, or else, you'd be looking at ditching your Marvin Gardens property to make up the difference.

In all the times, I would play Monopoly, my strategy changed. Rather than trying to get all the properties that were my favourite colours (because let's face it, three of the four were kind of low-value properties), I always looked at trying the primary colour strategy. The four groups of the most expensive properties to own were red, yellow, green, and dark blue. And, those four groups were ones that I really strived to get in that game. Of course, it didn't always work that way, as usually, I would only manage to get half of those properties, if I were lucky. But it was a far better strategy than the one I had used beforehand. I think my best game of Monopoly that I had ever played was one in which I had a Monopoly on yellow, green, and dark blue...let's just say that winning the game became easy once I had managed to build hotels on every green property I owned.

Another memory I have of playing Monopoly stems from the playing pieces of the game. I think almost everyone who has ever played Monopoly has a favourite playing piece, and they will try everything they can to be that piece. I know some people enjoy being the thimble. Some people enjoy being the dog. Nobody I knew ever wanted to be the wheelbarrow.

My favourite playing piece? The car. I loved being the car. I remember always wanting to play Monopoly as the car because I always seemed to end up having better luck whenever I got to be the car. My stellar Monopoly game in which I had most of the expensive properties was won while I was the car.

In case you didn't get that, I wanted to be the car!

And, yet, whenever my family played Monopoly, I hardly ever got to be the car.


Well, unfortunately for me, I was the youngest in the family. And there was a rule for Monopoly that we'd choose tokens from OLDEST to YOUNGEST. You know, come to think of it, it was my sister's idea to have that rule, and more often than not, SHE took the car token. She set me up!!! By the time the tokens were all doled out, all I had left to choose from was the dog and the wheelbarrow tokens...neither of which I liked very much. Heck, I would have even been the stupid iron! But, no. I ended up being a token that I hated and because of it, I was always in a sour mood whenever we played. Sour moods lead to poor decision making, and before you knew it, I would often end up having to pawn off my properties in order to make ends meet.

Not that I'm superstitious or anything like that, of course. It was just that whenever I got to be the car, I always ended up winning.

Take that as a little note whenever you play Monopoly with me. You touch my car piece, and I shove a bag full of plastic houses down your throat.

I'm glad that we have an understanding!

Oh, and then there's all the properties that were way too big of words to pronounce, so I ended up naming them some rather unusual names.

For instance, take Connecticut Avenue. The first time I ever landed on that square, I had absolutely no idea of how to say Connecticut. I didn't even know what a Connecticut was (it's a state, as well as a real life street in Atlantic City, New Jersey, where almost all the locations of the American Monopoly game were named after). So, I pronounced it as best as I could, and well...Connecticut Avenue became Connie-Cut Avenue. And, yes, my sisters still make fun of me for that.

It wasn't the only place name I goofed up on. I also screwed up the name of Kentucky Avenue. The only thing that I knew about Kentucky was the fact that they had fried chicken that came in a bucket (or so the seven year old logic I possessed back in those days told me). At this point, I knew how to say the word Kentucky, but when I landed on the square during one game, I must have thought of the Kentucky Fried Chicken commercials that I had seen on television, and I accidentally called it Ken-Chicky Avenue. Again, cue the hysterical laughter. I tell you, my face still gets as red as the property deed that Ken-Chicky...ahem...Kentucky Avenue is printed on every time I think of that one.

Of course, maybe I get that from my sisters. They were known for calling the B & O Railroad the B.O. Railroad (or body odour Railroad). Of course, they were giggling up a fuss every time they landed on that railroad, but I could never figure out why this was the case. Oh, and while we're on the subject, is Reading Railroad pronounced like REED-ing or RED-ing? I have heard it said both ways, but have thought that there was only one definitive answer. So, which is the correct pronounciation? Inquiring minds want to know?

That about wraps it up for my own personal experiences with the game of Monopoly. But, again, the game has been out for 77 years. I'm sure over the years, everyone in the world has had their own experiences with the game, whether they're playing it in their living rooms, or at the various Monopoly competitions held globally. I've shared some of my memories playing Monopoly, and I hope some of you will do the same.

Monopoly. Making families fight over the car token since February 7, 1935.

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