Blank sheets of paper made us happy for hours

Our father had tons of ditto and mimeographed sheets of paper that had been used on one side that he recyled, from the office and brought home to my two brothers and me.

When he was young, he invented and/or  his father invented two used-paper games that were perfect for people with a lot of imagination. Both games began on multiple sheets with paper stapled or taped together so that they formed a large square or rectangle. When the played Colonies, we drew the outline of a large island on the resulting huge sheet of paper and then lined if off in a cross-hatch pattern on one-inch squares.

Crayons and colored pencils made our games works of art.

We took terns claiming squares which, of course, were our cologies. You had to claim each new square in a block that was continguous to a square you already had. Once territories began to develop, we added railroads, ports, towns, lakes, roads, mountains, and other features.

A stimilar game was called Town. Instead of drawing an island, we drew a crossroads in the center ot the giant sheet of taped-together paper. Those represented the Town’s major highways. Then we preceded to add smaller streets, schools, homes, factories, parks, offices and other features. Inevitably, each of us would use a section to present the bad part of town, filling it with narrow and wisted streets with bars, shady warehouses, and hotels that were obvously houses of ill repute. Whenever a section got too horrible, we’d do urban renewal projects which simply consisted of slapping a fresh sheet paper over a portion of the map and starting fresh. When my youngest brother became a city planner, he quickly saw that real urban renewal projects required laws, lawyers, forms, and a stacak of regulations.

In  addition to those two games, we used our recyled paper to add extra streets to the Monopoly game. This provided us with new properties and higher profits as well as an exercise in what causes inflation since we had to keep creating more money to keep the bank solvent.

Oh, and we used to play outside in the dirt, too. Inside or outside, I think a few sheets of paper or a pile of sand in the yard taught us more about our imaginations than most of the games we could buy in a box. 


Malcolm R. Campbell

Publisher: Thomas-Jacob Publishing


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