Sunday, April 27, 2008

Nostalgia, Scrabble-style

Posted by Deadpan Alley
I was six years old when my dad introduced me to Scrabble. It soon became a nightly treat, as I got to match wits against the smartest man I knew, and my vocabulary grew by leaps and bounds. We used the flat no-frills board, and I remember it took some time to turn all the tiles face down in the lid of the box. It was a long time before I won my first game.

We modified the rules somewhat back then, as our goal was word knowledge. We agreed that we could consult the dictionary in order to find the best possible play. At first we used our two ginormous* World Book dictionaries. There were two volumes, A-K and L-Z, each weighing approximately ten pounds. Later, when the Official Scrabble Player's Dictionary was published in 1978, we bought a hardcover copy, and reduced our load to about three pounds.

At some point in the early eighties, two wonderful things happened. First, my dad got a Deluxe set for Christmas. Hurray for the plastic grid designed to keep tiles in place! Second, my dad came up with the wonderful idea of using a Crown Royal bag to hold the tiles for us. What a luxury!

I continued playing Scrabble with Dad through the years. We didn't play competitively, although our rule was that the person who won had to put up the equipment. Instead we would add our final scores together. If the total was 600 or higher, we considered it a successful game.

When Brad started the club here, we had three members: Brad, me, and my dad. It was like that for the first year. For the past year and a half, Dad's vision hasn't been clear enough to play, but he had surgery last week to help correct the worst of his vision problems. I hope he'll be ready to play again soon.


  1. What a nice story. It makes me like your dad even more. I hope he can play with us soon, too, although his decades of play will probably easily outmatch my two years of it.

  2. I was going to post a very similar blog to this one, but you beat me to it!

    I, too, was six when I started playing Scrabble with my dad. (Can always remember M*A*S*H or reruns of WKRP in Cincinnati being on in the background.)

    I also remember when the blue vinyl letter bag tore, my dad taped the top with packing tape. I then took a black marker and wrote "SCRABLE" across the tape. (Note that the spelling is the same as what was on the trophy box at tournament!)

    Every time Dad would make a word I didn't know, he would say it was "a part of a boat." (JIB was one.) I think he made some of them up though!

    Don't think I beat my dad until high school or maybe early college. Now I would say it's 50/50 on who wins, though he also has trouble seeing the board now, due to macular degeneration.

    A lot of similarities between mine and Deadpan Alley's childhood Scrabble :)


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