By In Stuff

Consider the thimble


Nostalgia is an odd emotion. It’s odd because nostalgia doesn’t stay in its lane. It makes perfect sense to feel nostalgia for happy things in your life, happy things that will never come around again. It makes sense to feel wistful and sentimental when, say, you go back to your old college or high school and see all the young people there just starting out, and you begin thinking about the good times you had.

But nostalgia is a vine; it does not grow in a line. It does not stay where it should stay. It starts in place, under control, and then it creeps into other things, crawls over other plants, spreads in all directions until it’s everywhere.

Consider the thimble.

When I was a kid, we played monster games of Monopoly. We didn’t have a choice. There was no X Box then (heck, we didn’t have an Atari yet), no cellphone, no computer, not even a Commodore 64. The very edge of technology the button on “Electronic Battleship” that sounded vaguely like an explosion and the game “Simon” where you tried to repeat a series of colors and sounds. Man, we hated Simon.


So we played Monopoly, and played it, and played it, rainy day after rainy day, snow-canceled day after snow-canceled day. You probably know that Monopoly, by the box rules, is impossibly boring so we invested all of our imagination into making the game more interesting. Landing on Free Parking meant collecting all the money that had been collected from Chance and Community Chest cards — later, if I remember correctly, we created a rule where if you landed on a property while the owner was in jail, that rent money also went into Free Parking.

We made it so that if you owned Electric Company and Water Works, you could shut down the power and the water to various properties — I don’t remember exactly how we did this. We, of course, allowed people to put multiple hotels on properties, thus making the slumlords of Baltic and Mediterranean very rich indeed!

Anyway, we kept inventing and reinventing the game because boredom does inspire creativity … or at least it inspires goofy ways to keep ourselves entertained.

But even then: Nobody wanted to be the thimble.

If you are of an age where any of this even makes sense to you — you will remember the tokens. You had:

— Race car.

— Dog.

— Shoe. Loved the shoe.

— Guy on a horse.

— Iron.

— Cannon.

— Battleship

— Top hat

— Wheelbarrow

— Thimble

In our world, the race car and dog were the prime tokens. I did want to be the shoe if I couldn’t be the race car or dog, and the top hat wasn’t bad either. The Monopoly people have retired various of these — gone is the cannon, the guy on the horse, the iron (the iron!) — and sacrilegiously added a cat to the game. A cat. Why not just replace Boardwalk with a ham sandwich? Monsters.

Anyway, we all loathed the thimble. I mean: What the heck is a thimble? It’s something that you wear on your finger when you’re sewing. What does that have to do with trying to achieve financial domination? Oh, and by the way, “thimble,” terrible word, constantly inspires people to come up with horrific puns. Right now someone out there is saying, “Well, it’s a thimble of the times.” And that person should be quarrantined.

So, yes, we loathed the thimble. I seem to recall that people in our kid group would sooner reach into their pockets and use a dime or piece of lint than use the thimble. Sometimes people would search around for some household item like a button or paperclip or a Cheerio to use instead of the thimble.

So why do I feel so horribly nostalgic upon hearing that Monopoly is retiring the thimble?

Why does this move make me … angry?

And sad?

Why do I care at all about the stupid thimble in a Monopoly game?

Nostalgia is a vine; it does not grow in a line. It does not stay where it should stay. It grows and spreads and gets into everything. I have a theory about this, not an original theory, but it’s something I think about quite a lot. At first, it seems, we feel nostalgic only for things that we loved. This is sensible. We are nostalgic for games of catch with Dad. Nostalgic for old baseball cards. Nostalgic for the Easy Bake Oven … or the old Johnny Carson Tonight Show … or Evel Knievel jumps … or grandma’s cooking … or the old New England Patriots helmets … or Mom reading a book to us at bedtime.

The other day, my 15-year-old daughter expressed her nostalgia her favorite kids’ show “Blues Clues.”* Yes, 15 is too young to feel nostalgia, only it isn’t.

*We are talking here about the old Steve version of Blues Clues, of course. The Joe Blues Clues, like Godfather III and the Star Wars prequels, never happened.

After a while, we might find that we feel nostalgic for other things, some of which we didn’t exactly LOVE but just sort of LIKED. We’re on eBay buying “Rock ’em Sock ’em Robots,” though we knew even as kids that it was pretty stupid (and the necks never worked right). We find ourselves having long and preposterously deep conversations with friends about the old “Shazam!/Isis Hour,” or the Naked Eyers song “Always Something There to Remind Me,” or those box tape recorders where you had to hit play and record together to actually record voices … even though none of those things were all that great.

And then, a few more years go by, and we might find that ourselves feeling nostalgic for stuff we didn’t like at all, like Leif Garrett, Burger Chef or the thimble in Monopoly.

Why? I think it’s because we are not nostalgic for any of those things, exactly. We are nostalgic for the time. We are nostalgic for being young … for feeling young. No, we are not unaware of the passing of time. We know it is happening. We see our friend’s kids every now and again, marvel at how much they’ve grown and ask what grade they are in, and they laugh and tell us that they are married with two kids. We know it’s happening. We feel aches and pains. We have colonoscopies. We can do the math, and sometimes actually DO THE MATH (“Let’s see here, I was born in 1967, that makes me …)

Still, there’s something in our minds that insists on fooling us, denying the movement of time, keeping us young in our heads. And when faced with undeniable facts showing that time stubbornly goes on, it feels like a cold splash of water. No! Stop! The other day, I went to Wake Forest to speak at Tommy Tomlinson’s magazine writing class, a delightful group of 17 young women (and one guy who seemed a bit overwhelmed by it all) and we talked about my story about Bruce Springsteen and my father, and up and down the line the young women either:

A) Had never heard of Bruce Springsteen (aware of the name, nothing else).

B) Were only aware of Bruce Springsteen because of their fathers

C) Were only aware of Bruce Springsteen because of their boyfriends (who undoubtedly only knew about him because of their fathers).*

*I am not exaggerating … it was one of those three things. At one point, I asked them all who might be the Bruce Springsteen of their generation, the person who they thought spoke for them musically. After a brief discussion, they decided it was probably Beyonce.

As I listened to them talk I realized: Well, of course they don’t know Bruce Springsteen. Why would they? They were born between 1996 and 1999. He has not had a Top 50 single in their lifetime. He was well into his 50s when they became aware. There is absolutely no reason for them to know or care about Springsteen. I understand this.

And still … it hit me like that splash of water that always hits when the years rush by too quickly.

Nostalgia always follows that splash of water. Yes, this is the barbaric yawping of an old man asking the world to get off his lawn — keep the damn thimble in the Monopoly set. True, it’s stupid. True, it’s pointless and always has been. True, there was a worldwide vote, and people voted out the thimble, just like we would have voted out the thimble 40 years ago.

But if you take the thimble out of Monopoly, you are making the world just a tiny bit less recognizable. And the world moves away too fast already.




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63 Responses to Consider the thimble

  1. wickethewok says:

    The anachronistic, depression-era tokens were always part of the historical charm of Monopoly. And no board game relies more on its history and place in pop culture than Monopoly. It’s not like people are playing it because of its thoughtful gameplay or elegant rule set.

    • anonymous says:

      On the contrary, I suspect a massive part of Monopoly’s business model is based around creating new versions rather than sticking with the classics. Just look at the profusion of pop-culture-themed Monopoly variants. And in that light this makes perfect sense: now they get to get a big push around 21st Century Monopoly and then in 3 years they get to release Classic Monopoly with the original pieces again. The anachronistic charm of Monopoly isn’t how it makes money; the combination of an infinite number of possible Monopoly products combined with how deeply embedded the game is in the American consciousness regardless of how dull it is to play is how they make money.

      • wickethewok says:

        I imagine that as far as making money directly, you are correct. But I think the memory that is embedded in the American consciousness originates from the original game and the nostalgia around it. As you point out, it’s not a great game on its own, so without the nostalgia tie-in, people may just buy other random branded games.

    • SDG says:

      I always liked the iron, because it was the only piece with a flat bottom so you could glide it across the board.

      I actually think Monopoly doesn’t rely on its place in pop culture. I think people play it because it’s challenging and takes hours and has more strategizing involved than most classic board games. Before the board game explosion with Settlers of Catan and games like that, Monopoly was really the only game that wasn’t esoteric knowledge or rote rule-following.

      • invitro says:

        I think Monopoly is quite a fun game when this rule is used: any time a player declines to purchase a property, it goes up for auction. This may be a standard rule, though, I can’t remember. It works wonders — everyone’s cash gets really low, so houses and hotels are rare, and any of the property groups may be the deciding factor in the game. Regular rent on an unimproved property becomes important, and doubled rent, well, doubly so. And turning Free Parking into a jackpot space is one way to turn the game into a big bore.

        • Kevin says:

          Exactly. Played by the rulebook – auctions for unpurchased properties and no Free Parking jackpot nonsense – it’s not a horrible game. Many, many better options these days, however.

      • Brian Schwartz says:

        The iron also could hide behind a hotel. You don’t have to pay rent if the person who owns the property never asks for it.

  2. DjangoZ says:

    Nice hat tip to DFW

  3. Rob Smith says:

    As you noted, Monopoly is very outdated and, I imagine, attempting an update by getting rid of an object, the thimble, that I pretty much guarantee that is not in 99.9% of houses today. And kids do have XBox these days. I get nostalgia. A few years ago I was buying up old Strat-o-Magic sets, filling in missing cards and selling them for $150+ per set. SOM had its day too. But like with Monopoly that day is gone. So if Monopoly thinks that retiring the thimble will help, have at it.

  4. nightfly says:

    Ironically, the thimble was probably included precisely because people would just make tokens out of whatever they had on hand, and the thimble was one such… right size, convenient shape, easily recognizable, so it made the cut where things like buttons would not.

  5. frightwig says:

    “Why should I know who that is? That’s before my time” has always annoyed me. When I was a teenager in the ’80s, college student in the early ’90s, I was well familiar with pop culture that preceded my birth. The Beatles & Stones, James Brown, Jimi Hendrix, The Dead, Aretha, Miles & Trane, Diz & Bird, Elvis & Chuck Berry, Buddy Holly, Thelonious Monk, Louis Armstrong. Well familiar. And that wasn’t uncommon. A lot of people my age liked the new stuff and the oldies, too. That’s partly because Boomer nostalgia was such a powerful cultural force–but we could’ve rejected it, ignored it.

    Is that a thing of the past now, too? There must be young people today, with practically everything available on the internet, who still have an interest in the classics and other artifacts. If a roomful of young women weren’t really familiar with Springsteen, maybe there was something else going on. Like, if you want to get into the Boss, maybe it helps to be a male sportswriter.

    Ah, well.

    • SDG says:

      Of course there are. Joe said they knew who Springsteen was, they just didn’t know his music beyond the first paragraph of his wikipedia page. And that’s the point. There are always going to be a few kids into oldies, but kids today would know as much about Springsteen the way kids your age would know about Sinatra.

      Knowing about Springsteen isn’t like knowing about a canonical artist like Louis Armstrong or Mozart. He was very much a Top 40 presence of his time. And that’s fine.

    • Brian Schwartz says:

      Internet-based services typically expose people only to music that is similar to what they already listen to, so there is not really a canon that everyone knows. These algorithms also consider release date heavily in their similarity scores, so they would be unlikely to pick up on something like “The Strokes are exactly like the Velvet Underground.”

    • MCD says:

      I have a Beatles shirt that every time I wear in public, without fail, I will have at least one teenager that will compliment me on it, and usually strike up a conversation regarding their favorite Beatles tunes. On a few occasions, they have asked to take a picture of it. I have *never* had that kind of thing happen where I wear my Springsteen shirt. It’s from the “Wrecking Ball” tour and I don’t even get the random doofus thinking its a Miley Cyrus reference.

      The point is, kids *still* do listen to music that precedes their birth, and I don’t think its a small minority. The Springsteen disconnect is NOT strictly about him being “before their time”. It just isn’t the type of music that resonates with kids in their late teens and early twenties. They aren’t the types of songs that the cast of Glee were going to cover. I guarantee you 90% of the kids in my son’s high school know the lyrics to Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing” and that same 90% could not name a Bruce Springsteen song if you took “Born in the USA” off the table.

      Heck, I don’t even think *I* liked Springsteen that much as a teenager. Even numbers with rebellious youth subject matter (e.g. “Rosalita” or “Candy’s Room”) didn’t make much of an impression on me when I first heard them when I was the same age as the songs’ protagonists. But through the prism of an adult looking back at his youth, they resonate with me much more.

      • Sadge says:

        I knew Springsteen’s music but it wasn’t until I was about 40, a few years ago, that I told myself that I needed to own one of his albums and Born to Run was it. I also wasn’t into Zeppelin until after college, have always kind of liked the Beatles (more in the last 20 years) and was never really a Stones fan but appreciated their music. But I loved knowing about it. The thing is, knowing the oldies as a kid of the ’80s was easier and harder than it is now. Everything now is pretty much at someone’s fingertips but there is also 30+ more years of music that has occurred in popular culture. So much to wade through. So some bands, like the Beatles, will always be known because there the only time people didn’t talk about or listen to the Beatles was before the Beatles. It doesn’t mean everybody loves the music, but the music hasn’t come close to becoming just a niche.
        Much of what I liked in my formative music years is not what I listen to regularly today. But some of the iconic bands I didn’t listen to much then have found their way into my playlist.

  6. Crazy Diamond says:

    Holy cow this post is so boring, lol. C’mon, Joe, nobody cares what size of shoe Thomas Edison wore. We care about what he created. Writing about baseball is your version of inventing (or least perfecting) the lightbulb. So please, I ask, please write more about the Baseball Hall of Fame, the Football Hall of Fame, or the Negro Leagues Hall of Fame, or basically anything at all about baseball!

    • KC Ref says:

      Joe, don’t confine yourself to baseball. PLEASE! For me a little bit of baseball goes a long way. Your wide angle view of life and topics is what has kept me following you since we first “met” when you were writing for the Kansas City Red Star…

      • Dennis says:

        Agreed – just because one jackass wants to read only about baseball – there area million other websites he can browse – please write about whatever you like

        • Rower41 says:

          Second the agreement. I love reading about baseball and it is often the nostalgia associated with it that keeps me coming back. Twenty packs of Topps for a dollar…searching packs for those specials names: Rose, Bench, Morgan, Aaron…throwing the Dusty Baker card against the wall and denting the corners because Topps was trying to trick me into thinking it was an Aaron card (LOL). Somewhere in a little box I saved the Dog piece from my original monopoly game because it always brought me luck. Now that you mention it, I think I am going to find it and rub it a few times before Opening Day, which should have remained in Cincinnati.

    • Sadge says:

      Fortunately for you, if you confine yourself to, you’ll only see Joe’s baseball writing.

  7. SDG says:

    Joe, I want to thank you sincerely for understanding that the music that was important to you, and to your cohort, isn’t universal and not being familiar with music you love doesn’t indicate some sort of character defect.

    If you were most writers, you’d accuse these college students of being idiots who care about flash, not substance, fashion magazines, over Shakespeare. You would probably tie this to new media and blame the internet for ruining everything. You would make a big deal about how Beyonce has songwriters and doesn’t play instruments and isn’t a real musician. Then you’d paint them as dumb airhead girls always taking duckface selfies on social media. Then you’d accuse them of political correctness because they pretend to prefer a black female artist over a white male one. Then you’d blame the education system and somehow link this to participation trophies and gluten-free snacks. The fact that you did none of this makes you one of the best writers working today, and I mean that.

    If you think I’m exaggerating, a few years ago Billy Crystal made a movie where the entire thesis was that millennials are horrible, screwed up people, and in order to redeem themselves as a generation they have to memorize, and find meaning in, Bobby Thomson’s home run and I swear I’m not making that up.

    • invitro says:

      “You would make a big deal about how Beyonce has songwriters and doesn’t play instruments and isn’t a real musician.” — Well, she -isn’t- a musician. She’s a singer.

    • Vidor says:

      Beyoncé does have songwriters, she really doesn’t play an instrument, and she really isn’t a musician.

  8. invitro says:

    Come on. They were GIRLS. I doubt that girls in the 1990’s or 1970’s would have much different of a response; Springsteen has always been much more popular among male fans. I’ll bet the girls could’ve named some hits by Elton John and George Michael, maybe even the Beatles.

    • Stephen says:

      I do some teaching at a local college–a very selective institution with a national reputation and a lot of very capable and aware students. I am in the education department and the class I teach only tangentially has to do with literature of any kind, certainly not “literature for adults,” but last night two of the students stayed a little bit late to “talk books” with each other and with me.

      They are well read–among the authors mentioned were Defoe, Dickens, Achebe, Hardy, Eliot, Salinger, Atwood, Woolf, Hemingway, and others, and while they didn’t necessarily LIKE all these folks they understood what they were about, what they were trying to do. It was a very interesting discussion, and certainly one that casts long shadows over oft-expressed disdain about “kids these days” and complaints about “no one cares about the past/the classics” and the ever-present “back in MY day…”

      So, why do I bring it up? Well, because during class I had mentioned Maurice Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are, one of the all-time great picture books on the face of the earth…and one of the students who took part later in this discussion had never heard of it. As someone who has spent his entire life around children I found this Impossible to Believe. And when I said, “Oh, you are in for a treat,” he said he was sometimes a little “out to lunch” where cultural things were concerned–and said that he had never heard of the Beatles till he had come to college. (TBH, I was more surprised that he had never heard of WTWTA than that he had never heard of the Beatles–but then, I do work with children mostly.)

      Anyway, it’s quite possible to have read George Eliot and Virginia Woolf and to love the works of Charles Dickens–and yet know nothing at all about the Beatles, not even fact that such a group had existed. We are prisoners of our own cultural references.

      • invitro says:

        “They are well read–among the authors mentioned were Defoe, Dickens, Achebe, Hardy, Eliot, Salinger, Atwood, Woolf, Hemingway” — That’s great!

      • Sadge says:

        After I just wrote that the Beatles will always be known, I read this and realized that I meant they will mostly be known. Of course there will always be some who haven’t seen Star Wars or were interested or even exposed to some other cultural phenomenon.

  9. Dirtbag says:

    My daughter is a college freshman who loves Springsteen. I decided last spring that I wasn’t a good father if I let her move out without taking her to see Bruce. So we flew to Phoenix for spring break and scalped floor tickets. She turned to me about two hours into the concert and asked, “Is he seriously not going to play Thunder Road?” I laughed and said, “Kid, he’s only about halfway done,” and her eyes got big. She spent the entire drive back to the hotel calling friends and telling them that she had just seen the greatest thing ever.

    • Paul says:

      I went to Bruce’s last concert in Foxboro, where he played for technically 4.25 hours but it seemed like over a day. After playing for over four hours he said farewell but did it in the way that made it clear we were all supposed to call him our for an encore (3rd encore, 4th, I don’t know what it was at that point). And the crowd was just too exhausted to do an encore call. Bruce came out anyway, and played for another 3 songs.

      The man has the endurance of an ultrathoner. And, like your daughter, I told everyone I saw for days that it was the greatest thing I had ever seen.

      It is incomprehensible that kids these days don’t understand Bruce, that he isn’t even on their radar, but it is like listening to old timers talk about Willie Mays. I understand, intellectually, that Willie Mays is clearly one of the ~5 greatest baseball players of all time, but he is historical. When someone who saw him play describes the greatness and the joy of Willie Mays I can’t grok it, because he was before my time. And kids these days won’t understand Bruce, who is so obviously great and such a source of joy. The inexorable progress of time sucks.

  10. Scott P. says:

    “You probably know that Monopoly, by the box rules, is impossibly boring so we invested all of our imagination into making the game more interesting. Landing on Free Parking meant collecting all the money that had been collected from Chance and Community Chest cards — later, if I remember correctly, we created a rule where if you landed on a property while the owner was in jail, that rent money also went into Free Parking.”

    Actually, you’re exactly wrong. Most people DON’T play by the rules in the box, and that is why the game is boring. The two rules most flouted are the rule that any property not bought when someone lands on it is put up for public auction, and the Free Parking rule you describe (which is NOT in the rules as written). Also most people won’t sell or trade properties with other players (which is how the game is meant to be played).

    Those changes RUIN the game. They drag it out (keeping money spread out and making it harder to accumulate property) and make it excruciating. A game of Monopoly, played according to the written rules, should take no more than an hour. It’s also a brutal, cutthroat game, which is why most families made the changes above to make it more ‘nice’ and family-friendly. But they also take out what makes the game interesting.

    • Richard says:

      The only rule that should be added is to not allow a player to purchase a property until they have completed one circuit of the board. As it is, the player who goes first has a great advantage over the player who goes last – more available properties ahead of them. This rule mixes things up a lot more.

  11. Dr. Tom says:

    You guys are idiots. Its the battleship token hands down. Took my daughter to see Springsteen during the 2004 Rock the Vote Tour with Michael Stipe and John Fogerty. She took all her college friends along to see him repeat his election year concerts when he played the Franklin Parkway/Philadelphia concert in 2008. Only need to experience him live to be converted.

  12. Ross MacLochness says:

    Put it this way- I was a college freshman in 1979. That’s 37 years ago.

    To a current college freshman, Springsteen is as hip, cool and current as Glenn Miller and Tommy Dorsey were to me.

    And Led Zeppelin is Eddie Cantor.

    And the Stones are Al Jolson.

    • invitro says:

      I think lots of college-age students still buy Zeppelin and Stones albums (maybe not Springsteen). I know lots of people in general buy their albums, or else they wouldn’t keep making all their anniversary/deluxe/box sets that keep coming out every year. I was just a toddler in 1979, but I’m pretty sure new Eddie Cantor & Al Jolson albums weren’t being released then. Springsteen now is probably like the Beatles, Elvis, & Bob Dylan were in 1979: still very popular, still selling records, but no longer hip.

      I don’t think there is a Springsteen of this time, or an X of this time, where X is any musical artist with both infinite critical and great commercial success over a very long period of time. Maybe Radiohead, although they’re quite long in the tooth by now. Maybe Kanye West, except he’s been a massive commercial success from day one. There just aren’t many artists who recorded five or six all-time classic albums over a twelve-year period of time like Springsteen did, and did this after Springsteen. It was common before about 1990, but after then, critical and commercial success have mostly split up. Popular music just ain’t what it used to be.

      • Stephen says:

        “Springsteen now is probably like the Beatles, Elvis, & Bob Dylan were in 1979: still very popular, still selling records, but no longer hip.”

        Well, it probably depends on what your definition of “hip” is, and definitely depends on what population you’re talking about.

        In my cohort (I started at a northeastern liberal arts college in 1978) the Beatles were quite certainly popular, but liking them was also (I would say) hip. Lennon was killed that year, or maybe the next, and LOTS of people on campus took it very, very hard.

        Bob Dylan–one of my roommates LOVED Dylan, and so did several other folks I knew. I would say Dylan was overall respected more than loved, though, and I’m not sure he would have qualified as “hip” in the same way as the Beatles probably still did.

        Elvis–well, Elvis was a joke among the people I knew. Fat, pasty, white jumpsuits with sequins (OMG). Dying on the toilet, not at the hand of an assassin. ODing on your mom’s pain pills, not experimenting with really cool drugs from really cool foreign cultures. I mean, jeez Louise. He was associated with country (not hip), and gospel (not hip), and with stupid movies like Blue Hawaii (not hip), and there was a sense that he might have been something once but that had been years and years and years ago (unhip), and then there was the fact that he not only hailed from but continued to live in the South (SERIOUSLY unhip). I know there were people out there in the world who continued to love him well into the seventies, but I can’t say I knew any of them.

        Springsteen was the hippest of the time. All four years of college I’d hear Born to Run wafting through the speakers of mega stereo system throughout the campus. Billy Joel was up there too. They, and a couple of others, probably outpaced the Beatles in “cool”–but the Beatles were pretty close.

        (Me, I listened mainly to Monty Python, Tom Lehrer, and Steeleye Span.)

        Interestingly, I remember where I was when I learned that Elvis had died, and not where I was when I found out about Lennon. –Also, I have come to appreciate Elvis’s music since the seventies. Don’t tell my fellow classmates.

        • invitro says:

          OK, that surprises me a bit. Wasn’t anyone there into new wave or punk? I would’ve guessed that would be the hip music in 1979-1982, especially in the northeast.

          • Stephen says:

            I think there were a few people who liked new wave stuff, though I’m not sure at this late date I could identify exactly who the bands were.

            Punk–no. I knew a couple of people in high school who were seriously into punk, but they were outliers–and I don’t recall anyone listening to punk in any significant way in college.

      • Kuz says:

        I believe part of the artistic impulse is to express old truths in new ways. Popular culture isn’t and can’t be what it used to be, and yet it can.

    • KHAZAD says:

      This is something people don’t think about – to people looking back it is a short time away. My first reaction to this article was an old man reaction about how kids don’t see anything that’s not on their feeds, and how I knew the older music when I was young, but then I realized how long it has been since Bruce has been relevant for young people who were not already aware of him. His last big hit album with mainstream airplay etc. was about 30 years ago. (No I am not saying he hasn’t made great music since then, so don’t give me a list. Simply saying it was the last time he might have shown up on young people’s radar

      I was a college freshman in 1983. I knew alot of the (late) 50s music and the 60s stuff, but 30 years before 1983 was 1953, prior to Elvis, or Rock around the Clock, or anything I was familiar with. I still don’t know that much about Perry Como or Eddie Fisher ( who were big in 1953) and I only know Les Paul because of him making guitars, not much about his pop duets. I know Dean Martin from the movies and the rat pack,and I know the top song of 1953 (That’s Amore) precisely because it has been in a bunch of movies. I guess was always pretty aware of Hank Williams, so that is my big connection to 1953 music, and I am not a country guy overall.

      I went to my first baseball game in 1973, and the 70s Royals don’t seem that long ago to me. But someone who was my age in 1973 might have seen their first baseball game in 1929, prior to the great depression, with Ruth and Gehrig on the Yankees, Rogers Hornsby and Hack Wilson leading the Cubs to a World Series, which they lost to a Connie Mack coached A’s team led by Al Simmons, Jimmy Foxx, and Lefty Grove. That seems like forever ago to me, and it did in 1973 as well.

      We lack perspective as we get older, and the realization that things we see as not so long ago really ARE a ling time ago.

      • KHAZAD says:

        I will also tell a story on my Wife, who is younger than I am. We were in the car about 5 years ago and she was singing “The Power of Love” by Huey Lewis (from the movie Back to the future) and was surprised that it was on the oldies station. “That’s not an oldie, that’s retro!” (A description created by aging people in denial of how long ago things actually were) I replied that the song was 27 years old, and mentioned that in 1985 when the song came out, if she had thought of 1958 songs as oldies, as they were the same age then as the Huey Lewis song was when this happened.

        She got the scrunchy face as she realized she had no argument, then said “I don’t care, it is not an oldie” but somewhat laughing at herself as she did.

        • Michael C Lorah says:

          I had a similar self-realization when my first son was born in 2013. I was thinking about introducing the music of my youth to him some day (distinctly, Nirvana). As a model of music’s age, I realized I was born in 1976 and the Rolling Stones debuted in 1964 – they existed for 12 years when I was born, but from my perspective, had been around forever.

          From my son’s perspective, 12 years prior to his birth was 2001 – so The Black Keys will be the band that’s been there forever!

          By comparison, Nirvana is so old that it would pre-date Elvis from my birth!

          Granted, rock music hasn’t really evolved a lot since Nirvana (arguably earlier), so the transition maybe won’t be as huge for him as it would be for me to go back to Rosemary Clooney.

          • Chris M says:

            My daughter was born last year, and I had the crazy realization last September that for her, 9/11 is as far in the past as the moon landings were for me. Time is a strange thing.

        • Brett Alan says:

          Most of those stations don’t use the term “oldies” anymore; nowadays it’s “Classic Hits.” So your wife is hardly alone in that.

      • invitro says:

        “His last big hit album with mainstream airplay etc. was about 30 years ago.” — Well… of course he’s still having big hit albums now as much as any time, with his last four albums, from 2007 through 2014, making #1. So it depends on how you define mainstream airplay. He had a #106 hit in 2012, #72 in 2005, #19 in 1997, #9 in 1994, #16 & #68 in 1992. That’s on the Hot 100, but the Rock chart may be of more import, and he’s had more and bigger hits there. 1987-8 was Tunnel of Love, which had three hits, so I guess that’s what you’re thinking of.

        Also, “I realized how long it has been since Bruce has been relevant for young people who were not already aware of him.” — I was about as big of a Springsteen as you could find in 1992, but he hasn’t been relevant for *me* since at least 2000.

        • KHAZAD says:

          I define it as songs that make the regular rotation on stations that kids actually listen to – at least the ones that still listen to actual radio.

          I never said Bruce wasn’t doing well. He will probably have #1 albums until he stops making music or dies. He might have hit songs as well, but the average teenager isn’t going to hear it. I did notice that two of the three top 40 songs in the last 30 years were songs in big movies, so even if heard, by younger people, might have just been “that song from Jerry Maguire”.

          • invitro says:

            How do you know which stations kids listen to, and what songs are in regular rotation on those stations?

          • KHAZAD says:

            Because sometimes I listen to those stations, and I don’t hear Springsteen on them.

          • invitro says:

            You didn’t answer “How do you know which stations kids listen to” (I’d very much like to see a demographic breakdown of radio station listeners, and even more of album/single sales), and I didn’t say he’s getting airplay in 2017, because of course he isn’t. But he was throughout the 1990’s. So your “30 years ago” needs to be “15-20 years ago” or something like that.

    • Benjamin Wildner says:

      I am about as little into popular music as a reasonably normal human being can be (This is actually really inconvenient) but I am still fascinated by the question of what “current” artists will have the staying power to become tomorrow’s geriatric rockers.

      • invitro says:

        Well, which ones are your picks? My answer: none of them, in an objective sense… I don’t think there will be any 30-year anniversary albums in 30 years. I’d bet money on it.

        • Kuz says:

          Album’s have long since been the “thimble” in the Monopoly Game. I agree there won’t be 30th Annivesary “albums” in 30 years. But there will be 30th Anniversary “something’s”. Then we can argue who won the bet.

  13. invitro says:

    For Monopoly token fans, here’s a nice pic of them from the 1936 Deluxe edition:

    Trophy, bathtub, elephant, lantern, candlestick holder, trolley, shoe, battleship, top hat, race car.

  14. Alter Kacker says:

    Can you still buy Baltic Avenue for $60? And get out of jail for $200? Now THAT’s anachronistic. Well, maybe those are still (or once again) the prices in Atlantic City.

  15. MikeN says:

    Another game that has had bigger changes is Stratego. In fact you may have already played an update.

    1) What size is the board?
    2) How many pieces do you have?
    3) What # is the most powerful piece, and what number is the scout?

    • Karl says:

      Oh good grief, yes. The flipping of the numerical order in Stratego drove me NUTS, and they kept it for all the specialty sets (Lord of the Rings, etc). I have no idea why they did that.

      I did have a set that came out maybe 10 years ago that had the proper order (Marshal = #1) but also had some odd additional pieces, I think cannons or something. I just played with the base 40 pieces per side and let the new pieces rot.

      I don’t remember the board size changing, when was this?

    • Stephen says:

      I’ll play, The board is 10×10, with 8 spaces taken up by lakes. There are 40 pieces, with 1 (the marshal) being the most pwoerful and the scout = 9.

      I did see a set briefly where the numbers are reversed–marshal is the highest number.

    • MikeN says:

      The set I saw most recently had higher numbers better, and was just 8×10, 30 pieces per side, only 5 bombs.

      • MikeN says:

        And they insulted me by calling it the Classic Edition.
        Another thing is I remember the pieces come with a separate rack to make cleanup easy. This version didn’t have that and you had to put stickers on the pieces.

        • Karl says:

          Thanks for the heads up Mike, I had no idea it had gotten this bad. Classic version indeed. I think I’ll be sticking to Ebay for my board game needs from now on. Sheesh.

  16. Jeffsol says:

    I was reading the intro about Atari and Simon and I thought…the timing seems wrong…so I looked. Atari was actually introduced in 1977, Simon in 1978. Magnavox Odyssey (more commonly known as Pong) was out in late ’72.

    • invitro says:

      I’m not sure what you’re saying is wrong. Joe says he didn’t have an Atari yet, not that it wasn’t out yet… it was probably 1978 or 1979 that Joe’s talking about. I’m about four years younger than Joe, and his references match mine: our family got an Atari in 1980 or 1981, we had Monopoly earlier and we and the neighborhood kids played it a lot before then, we didn’t have a Simon, but I was well aware of that stupid game. The race car and the dog were generally the most popular tokens, too, as they were the “boy” tokens… the thimble and iron were the “girl” tokens. I preferred the wheelbarrow. 🙂 Our set didn’t have the cannon or battleship. Our next-door neighbor got the Magnavox Odyssey 2 in 1981 or 1982, and boy, did it make me envious, with the better games, better graphics, and full keyboard. And I loved the Shazam/Isis Saturday morning show. I think that was the very first TV show I loved.

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