Whenever someone asks me what I’m writing, I feel a fleeting twinge of guilty laziness for saying I continue to blog – no new book of essays, no great American novel, no legacy book for my granddaughters. This is me self publishing using the same platform I’ve had for thirteen years. Never reaching 2,000 followers but loving my local and international friends who faithfully hang with me. Averaging 150 hits per post in 2022, sometimes more in other years, sometimes fewer. Somewhere along the way I found a voice, but the Boomer passion for individual achievement in the realm of literature that produced six books is mixed now with the seasoned settling of comforting routines that continue to produce my cyberspace conversations. If I ever changed my mind about publishing a new collection of my flash nonfiction, I promise the following post from the archives would be included.
Pretty, the great Treasure Hunter, occasionally brings home items that fascinate. One such find was two versions of a board game I played as a child growing up in rural Grimes County, Texas in the mid twentieth century. 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
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 Southern Perspectives on the Queer Movement: 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?
not sure where this picture of me was taken or why –
did I already feel different?
Be aware of bias and labels that hurt. Be kind to each other. Be safe this weekend.