The Games People Play by Charlene Sands


Our family is big on games.  We’re “gamers” as they say.  Whenever we get together either with friends or family, we play our fair share of games.


It’s a hoot and a howl and we usually end up laughing our heads off after a few pizzas and beers.  Since our kids are grown and out of the house, we’ve instituted a Once A Month Game day!


Cards are usually the game of choice. We’ll play anything from UNO to Milles Bornes to Phase Ten. We have Phase Ten Tournaments.  My new son-in-law is quite a competitor. He and my hubby are always trying to outdo each other.


Sequence is a board game that you play with a deck of cards as well.  Its sort of like Bingo … but we play regular Bingo too!  


When we have a larger group than the six of us, like this past Easter – we’ll break out Catch Phrase. This is a game like Password, where you are allowed to describe the word in any way possible to your team members.  Once your team gets the word, you pass the digital “board” to your opponent.  A clock clicks off time and if you’re the team left holding the “board” when the timer runs out, the opposing team scores a point.  Not only are we playing a Password type game, but we’re also playing Hot Potato – all at the same time.   


Another fun game for more than four players is Apples to Apples. It’s easy and fun, REALLY, but way too hard to explain on this blog.  Trust me – you’ll love it. 



As I peruse my closet, I see digital Deal or No Deal (but you don’t win any real money), Risk (one time we played this game for 8 hours),  Parcheesi (for oldies but goodies) and Upwords, a board game that’s like scrabble except you can build tiles upon each other.  Of course Yahtzee and Monopoly and Clue are among my all time favorites.   Fun, Fun, Fun!


So what games did they play in the 1800’s?  



The first American board game was created in 1843 by the W & S.B Ives Company called the Mansion of Happiness.  This game led children via their playing pieces down the path of “eternal happiness.”


Would you believe that the The Game of Life as we know it (pictured on left) started out as the picture you see next to it. Invented by Milton Bradley in 1860, The Checkered Game of Life was a board game that rewarded good deeds and punished bad ones. Milton Bradley, once a successful lithographer, had created a portrait of Abe Lincoln without his beard.  When Lincoln grew his now-famous beard, Bradley’s clean-shaven portrait was no longer popular.  Out of desperation, Bradley designed the Checkered Game of Life and its immediate popularity started Milton Bradley on a new career path. 



Milton Bradley



As more and more Americans traveled overseas in the late 1800’s, traveling board games held great appeal. Travelers could relive their trips by playing such games as Around the World invented in 1873 or McLoughlin Brothers’ Game of Round the World with Nellie Bly which was created in 1890. 


Are you a “gamer” too?  Do you play cards or board games with family and friends?   Which are your favorites? 




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46 thoughts on “The Games People Play by Charlene Sands”

  1. Hi Charlene! Family favorites here are Aggravation and a board game called Rail Baron.

    One of the most famous Bylin family stories involved a heated game of Aggravation. That’s the one where you roll one di (is that singular for dice?) and move marbles around a board. My mom needed a 1 or a 6 to win. She was saying, “Oh! Oh! Oh!” when she tossed the di. Somehow it went straight into her mouth. I’ll never forget everyone at the table staring in stunned amazement while she tried to figure out what to do : )

    Rail Baron is great for anyone into railroads. It’s similiar to Monopoly in that you buy property (railroads), but there’s quite a bit of strategy. You also learn a lot about railroads. It’s been handy with some of my books.

  2. Charlene, oh how I miss the days when we used to play games together! Why don’t we take the time to do it more often?

    Sequence was a real favorite, and I don’t know how many hours we used to play Monopoly. A ton! And as I’ve been cleaning closets, one is full of all the board games my girls used to play while growing up. Remember the Barbie board game. I still love that one, too! I’m not getting rid of any of them.

    Good for you for playing games as a family! They’re what memories are made of.

    A fun blog!

  3. Hi Charlene! I miss when I was younger and played games with the family. We played alot of UNO, Life, and Monopoly. My husband and I still own a Monopoly game, but we haven’t played it for a few years now. The game we play with our friends is a board game called Cash Flow now. Once in a while we will still play Uno too.

  4. Hi Vicki,
    Oh, you made me laugh with that story of your mother. Was she okay? I hope she won the game after that!

    Rail Baron sounds like fun. Is that game around anymore?

  5. Hi Pam,
    I won’t get rid of any of my old games either. My Monopoly has all really cool original pieces. The newer versions don’t have really fun playing pieces. Remember how everyone always wanted to be the Sportscar or the Dog, but would settle for the Steamboat. Most of those older games are falling apart, but I refuse to toss them. We once played Monopoly Online… not the same at all. 🙂

  6. Hi Becky,

    Monopoly and Uno are classics! I’ve never heard of Cash Flow though. It’s funny because we never played games with my Mom and Dad when we were younger, but now that my kids are grown, we’ve started it up again. We’re having a ball and it’s great for family bonding. Thanks for stopping by today!!

  7. What a fun blog, Charlene. These days my gaming consists of an occasional round of Candyland with my 3-year-old grandlet (she cheats). But the games at your house sound like so much fun. As kids we loved Clue, played it endlessly. And on rare occasions I can be a killer monopoly player.
    Thanks for the smile.

  8. Hi Elizabeth – Oh, how I wish I had a grandlet to play Candyland with. Do you remember Chutes and Ladders? That was a favorite of mine too! Oh, so you’re one of “those” Monopoly players. I bet you always owned Park Place and Broadway!

  9. Charlene, we love Catch Phrase at our house. When we play it, which isn’t often, we end up laughing hysterically.
    Great post.
    I played Chutes and Ladders and Candyland and Pop-O-Matic Trouble with my girls when they were young.
    I’ve always hated Monopoly for some reason, I think I’m too fiscally conservative to buy property, I prefer to hoard my money, which is a guaranteed way to lose, which also explains my approach to investments in real life.

  10. Hello Charlene,

    Our family was big into card games such as Rook, Spades, Canasta, and Pinnacle. I haven’t played some of these games in years. Have a great day.

  11. Mary,
    Isn’t Catch Phrase a hoot! We too, laugh hysterically when we play it.

    One time, my husband and I went to a friend’s house to play Monopoly and they were bankrupt right away. We went on to play the game until we finished,(which took hours) neither hubby or myself wanted to lose. It’s not a great game to play with “company” because people get eliminated… now we always play games that everyone can play until it ends!!

  12. My personal favorite games are Yahtzee and Skip-Bo. I can play for hours. Love to play with my two older granddaughters. I think playing games is an excellent way of bonding. You sure find out a lot about the people playing with you. My son is a terrible sore loser. He can’t stand to lose. My two daughters used to hate playing with him.

    I learned something from you today. I didn’t know board games were around way back in the 1800’s. I mistakenly thought they didn’t evolve until the early 20th century. I can just see those women in their long dresses sitting around playing in some parlor.

  13. Oh, yes, we are gamers. We love playing both card and board games. Rage, Uno variations, Catan, Ark of Covenant, Ticket to Ride, you name it we have a room of shelves (more than one) just for games (more than one), Dominoes, pigs, tip the cow, skipbo. and I could go one. GAMERS with a capital ‘G’ We don’t own a tv but we play games.

  14. Hi Charlene! My family loves games, too. Monopoly, Clue, Scrabble, and especially cards. We also have Password, and what a hoot that is to play with another couple. What a fun blog!

  15. Hi Linda-
    I love Yahtzee too. Can you believe my girlfried NEVER played it. I introduced it to her and she was amazed at how much fun it is. It’s fun for 2 or more so sometimes just me and the DH play it.

  16. Oh and I forgot to say that I learned that Milton Bradley lived in the 1800’s. Who knew that he lived back then? I too, thought board games were popular in the mid 1900’s. You learn something every day!!

  17. Hi Abi!

    My in-laws from Texas introduced us to Skip-Bo. I’ve forgotten how to play. They also love dominoes and when they visit, we play with them.
    Welcome to the “Gamers” Club!!

  18. Hi Kate,
    You play all the old standbys! I still love Clue!
    Catch Phrase is sorta like Password, but with the added element of a timer and passing it on without getting caught. It’s a blast. Your kids would like it!

  19. Hi Charlene! Well, right now we seem to be into Wii nascar racing and bowling LOL, although we did Monopoly on it and I lost badly.

    But we have loved Uno, Rumi-cubes, and Sorry. Clue was a biggie when the kids were younger. And my DIL and I have played chess a couple of times (I’m horrendous)… I must confess I have never played Yahtze =(

    Thanks for the fun post!

  20. My husband and I have a regular Yahtzee rivalry and play almost every night! Every now and then, we thrown in Scrabble, Battleship, Parchessi or Sorry. We don’t watch that much TV and would rather play a game in the evening or curl up and read our books.

  21. The children played all the usual board games (Clue,
    Monopoly, Checkers, Chinese Checkers, etc.) For the adults, it was bridge or my favorite, Canasta. Honey’s favorite was chess, at which I was absolutely horrible!

    Pat Cochran

  22. I thought of another game we love. It’s Mexican Train. It’s a form of dominoes. We can play that for hours.

    Charlene, I’m happy to report my mom didn’t choke on the dice. She *did* have to spit it out in front of everyone. By that time, we were rolling with laughter. I don’t recall who won the game, but we all won big in the memory department.

    You inspired me to google “Rail Baron.” Fascinating story! The board game went out of production around 2000, mostly because new users clamored for an online version. That’s just not the same! Old copies show up on eBay, and there’s a group of afficionadoes who play annually in Baltimore.

  23. I haven’t played for a long time. I used to like African Star, Monopoly, Throw Away a Million (not sure if it’s called that in English) and Draughts.

  24. Our family LOVES to play games. I forgot how much until our most recent hurricane left us without lights (and TV). The kids were actually disappointed when the power came back on.

  25. As a kid, I played a ton of games… but for quite awhile now, I have not. I loved LIFE, CLUE, UNO, gee so many more. I still have them, they are just buried somewhere…

  26. Hi Tanya,
    Oh, I’m going to have to change that. We’ll play Yahtzee one day!! We’ve played the Wii, but I’m horrible, of course our younger generation are so good at it!! I’m only half bad at bowling!
    Happy Friday with Carter!

  27. Vicki – oh thank goodness your mom was okay. I just told my hubby that story and we chuckled! What a funny memory! Those are the best.

    I’ve played Mexcian TRain too!! Our neighbors brought it over and it’s a different take on dominoes. Doesn’t the Train whistle or something?

    Oh, you know the games online just aren’t as much fun. It’s the bonding and interacting with friends playing a board game that makes it fun!

  28. Hi Pat,
    I hear you about Chess. My hubby won chess tournaments and had electronic chess games he’d play against the computer. I don’t even try to outsmart him. Not my game, for sure!

  29. Hi Minna,
    You have a variety of games there, that I haven’t heard of. Draughts and African Star sound interesting! I guess Monopoly is the universal game! Everyone seems to know that one!

  30. If I could only make a career out of playing games lol. I would play all the time if I had someone to play with (so of course there are my computer games when there isn’t lol). Uno, Phase 10 and Skippo are all favorites. At the moment I’m in a card club that plays a card game called sock and shoe – reminds me of canasta. You play with partners and it takes as many decks as there are people. It’s very addictive lol.

  31. I love to play Dominoes. I have a box of the double twelves and they are a blast to play. It takes at lease four players to have a good game. When I lived at home we would play Rook of Aggravation and it was a lot of fun. My husband is not much of a gammer, so he kind of bums things out when someone else wants to play. My so also love to play Dominoes.

  32. Hi Quilt Lady,
    I bought my father-in-law the Double Twelves for a birthday and we all played. That was a lot of fun. There seems to be so many variations of dominoes. Sorry your DH isn’t into games.

  33. When my kids were in grade school Sorry, Life, chinese checkers,Battleship, and Monopoly were their favorite board games. Uno was their favorite card came and they still like it. We enjoyed Trivial pursuit when it came out and got a junior version so the kids could play too. When they were in high school, Scrabble and Tripoly were added. When we get together with our adult children now we play Scrabble or Sequence. My husband loves chess but I am hopeless. Luckily our grandson is interested and is learning. We used to play cards (canasta, hearts and gin rummy) but play mostly board games now. I have done game days at our library and chinese checkers have been really popular with all ages. Risk is really popular. I got a Lord of the Rings version this past year. They want to do chess, but there is no one to teach. I have lots of games I’ve brought from home to let them try out.

  34. Card Games: Sheephead, Up & Down the River, Gin, Golf, Crazy Eights, Hearts, Gin Rummy,War

    Board Games: Rummikub, Risk, Monopoly, Mystery Mansion, Clue, Discovery, Mall Madness

  35. Thanks Minna,
    I checked the games out.
    Draughts looks a little complicated! It’s great to learn about games played in different parts of the world.

    Hi Laurie G – I don’t think I’ve heard of Sheephead, but all the others I have. Never played Mall Madness though!

  36. Hi Patricia

    Wow, you’ve played a whole lot of games! I remember playing Chinese checkers on a star shaped board, but I can’t recall how it was actually played. A Lord of the Rings version of Risk sounds like fun!!

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