Dimples, Butch, Buttercup, Sissy… Sissy?


Pretty, the great Treasure Hunter, occasionally brings home items that fascinate. One such find this week was two versions of a board game I played as a child growing up in rural Grimes County, Texas. Before the television set took over as our main form of entertainment, my family played all kinds of games from dominoes to gin rummy to board games Santa Claus left for me under the tree at Christmas. One of our family favorite board games was Go to the Head of the Class which was supposedly “educational” as well as fun. With school teacher parents, I played tons of “educational” games.

fifth series copyrighted in 1949 by Milton Bradley, publisher

The game was originally played with tokens that were cardboard images of children attached to wooden bases. Each game had 8 tokens, and their pictures were on the book that contained the questions.

(top row, l. to r.) Sissy, Dimples, Liz and Butch

(bottom row, l. to r.) Sonny, Buttercup, Susie and Red

Sissy

I can’t find the edition when publisher Milton Bradley eliminated the unsmiling player named Sissy, but I can assure you it would have been the last token picked in my family. Buttercup would have run a close second to the last.

Take a good look at Sissy, the little boy whose two obvious distinguishing features were that he wore glasses and parted his hair down the middle like the little girl tokens.

I remembered Jim Blanton’s essay in Committed to Home where he talked about growing up in Gaffney, South Carolina and being called “sissy” as a child and teenager by bullies in school. Words, labels that cause pain.

I’m sure my parents were oblivious to the subtle cultural messages being sent to me in our educational games, but for me this game was one more nail in the coffin of internalized homophobia and intentional segregation in my childhood. Never any people of color as the tokens. No one wanted to be known as a “sissy,” and how could I explain to anyone why I always picked “Butch” first?

Be aware of bias and labels that hurt. Be kind to each other. Be safe this weekend.

Stay tuned.

 

 

 

About Sheila Morris

Sheila Morris is an essayist with humorist tendencies who periodically indulges her desires to write outside her genre by trying to write fiction and poetry. In December, 2017, the University of South Carolina Press published her collection of first-person accounts of the people primarily responsible for the development of LGBTQ organizations in South Carolina. Southern Perspectives on the Queer Movement: Committed to Home will resonate with everyone interested in LGBTQ history in the South during the tumultuous times from the AIDS pandemic to marriage equality. She has published four nonfiction books including two memoirs, an essay compilation and a group of her favorite blogs from I'll Call It Like I See It. Her first book, Deep in the Heart: A Memoir of Love and Longing received a Golden Crown Literary Society Award in 2008. Her writings have been included in various anthologies - most recently the 2017 Saints and Sinners Literary Magazine. She is a displaced Texan living in South Carolina with her wife Teresa Williams and their dogs Spike and Charly. Her Texas roots are never too far from her thoughts.
This entry was posted in Humor, Lesbian Literary, Life, Personal, politics, racism, Reflections, Slice of Life, The Way Life Is and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Dimples, Butch, Buttercup, Sissy… Sissy?

  1. Would love to think you ere making this up! Butch and the Sissy Kid will never take off.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Luanne says:

    Excellent post. Gonna respond by email.

    Liked by 1 person

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