Tuesday, March 5, 2013

History Lesson: 1930s Family Game Night

A couple of weeks ago, our history curriculum (America the Beautiful, by Charlene Notgrass) suggested having a 1930s Family Game and Treat Night.  It didn't take much effort to convince the kids to plan it, and Dad and the oldest two boys played along too!

We often associate the 1930s with the Depression and the Dust Bowl, and while those difficult times certainly defined the era, not all was gloom and despair.  President Franklin D Roosevelt and his administration started several New Deal programs aimed at helping people through tough times.  Two of the most remembered are the Works Progress Administration and the Civilian Conservation Corps. Workers in the WPA built roads, bridges, and public buildings.  The WPA also supported the arts, literature, and community programs, and encouraged travel and tourism in America.
I didn't know a lot about the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) until just a few years ago, and I bet a lot of modern Americans don't either.  But many of us enjoy the benefits of their labor.  They were involved in forestry projects, including fighting forest fires.  They planted and tended trees, built cabins and facilities in state and national parks, cleared hiking trails and build campgrounds, built dams and bridges, strung telephone lines, built air strips, cut ski trails, and even helped with archaeology and restoration projects. Now I'm kind of glad I photographed this sign about the CCC when we were at Swallow Falls State Park last winter. You just never know when a photo will come in handy. When we were vacationing near Hudson, New York, a couple years ago, the campground we stayed at was built by the CCC as well.
Most Americans are still affected by the Social Security program begun while FDR was President.  The New Deal accomplished a lot of good, but there were some programs and aspects of programs that were not so good, or are still debated.  Many people were helped, but unemployment remained high until the start of World War II.  Some economists and historians believe that the Depression would not have lasted as long if the government had done far less.  Still, Roosevelt was a very popular President.

When the lesson talked briefly about hobos - men who traveled the country looking for work, often on the railroads - Kennady immediately remembered the hobos in the movie Kit Kittredge, American Girl.  I suggested we could watch the movie together - again - but we haven't done it yet.

During the 1930s, the movies became very popular, and Americans also enjoyed radio shows.  George S. Parker and his brothers started publishing games in the late 1800s, and one of their successes was the card game Rook, which they started selling in 1906.

In 1933, Charles B Darrow went to Parker Brothers with a game he'd developed called Monopoly.  They didn't like his idea and rejected it.  Mr Darrow got help from a friend and started publishing the game himself.  He soon sold 5000 games in a Philadelphia department store. The game turned out to be very popular, and he couldn't make enough by hand, so he went back to Parker Brothers.  This time, they agreed to publish Monopoly.  Around the Christmas of 1935, orders began pouring in for the game, and soon the company was working three shifts six days a week and had to request permission from the state of Massachusetts to work on Sundays so they could fill orders.  By the end of 1936, they'd sold over 1.8 million games!

Our copy looks like it might date from the 1930s - it is pretty beat up!

Other popular toys and games during the 1930s included: Betsey Wetsey Doll, View-Master 3D Viewer, Sorry, and Scrabble.

For our game night, we chose to play Sorry.  We have the Disney version of the game, so it's not exactly authentic.  Although. . . Mickey Mouse first appeared in a comic strip in 1930, so maybe I can use that as a tie-in excuse?

We also enjoyed some 1930s inspired treats.  Nestle Toll House Chocolate Chip cookies were invented in 1930. Ruth Wakefield and her husband owned the Toll House Inn in Massachusetts, and one day when she was making cookies, she discovered she'd run out of baker's chocolate.  She cut up a Nestle chocolate bar and mixed it in instead, and the guests loved the result! The recipe was published in some area newspapers, and when chocolate sales increased, Nestle made a deal with Mrs Wakefield.  She allowed them to print her recipe on their chocolate bar wrappers, and they supplied her with all the chocolate she could use.  What a deal!!

I didn't use the Toll House recipe (which to this day appears on Nestle chocolate morsels wrappers), but I did bake some delicious homemade chocolate chip cookies.
We also enjoyed a sampling of chocolate candies that were introduced in the 1930s - 3 Musketeers, Snickers, and Kit Kat. (And coffee!! I made a large pot of coffee!)

Okay, this is NOT from the 1930s, and it references an earlier era - the 1920s, but it does relate to our game night. Harrison was playing some music on his iPod, and I pointed out that it was not 1930s music and told him to search for something more appropriate.  That reminded him of this video of a reporter that uses 1920s lingo to interview sports celebrities.  It is pretty funny, so I leave you with Scoops Callahan.

On February 28, 2014, this post was linked to the Toys and Games for Homeschool Round-up at the Schoolhouse Review Crew blog.

This post was added to the Throwback Thursday Blog-Style link-up hosted by Tots and Me... Growing Up Together! on March 3, 2016.

Tots and Me

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Rebekah said...

How fun is this! I love family game nights. We need to try doing some sort of era-based theme night like this.

Lexi said...

That's such a great idea! Love the theme!

Mother of 3 said...

What a unique twist on family game night!

John Notgrass said...

Looks like a fun evening!

Charlene Notgrass said...

Thanks for sharing this! With the photo of the page of WPA posters from America the Beautiful, the details about Monopoly from our lesson on President Roosevelt and the New Deal, and pictures of games and candy bars we suggested in the family activity for this unit, it's almost like reading a review of the curriculum. Thanks so much! Charlene Notgrass

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