By Wendy Schreiner
When I was young, my brothers and I had birthday parties at home. In our actual house! Mine usually took place in the garage as I was born in August and the weather usually permitted the party to be held outdoors, which included our big backyard. We didn’t leave home to head over to Chuck E. Cheese or a Bounce House establishment. Our parents provided the fun for us, our friends and family right under our own roof. This was in the 1970s.
Games were played such as Pin the Tail on the Donkey or the one where we took a plastic spoon with a peanut on it and placed the spoon in our mouth and walked while trying to balance the spoon and then drop the peanut into a bucket to see who was the fastest. Unique and exclusive to birthday parties held at my house was a game called, “Spin Board.” What may you ask is “Spin Board?” Spin Board is just what its name indicates. It is a square wooden board that was homemade by my maternal grandfather I believe. It features a wooden spinner that you spin. The board itself is painted white or gray and probably is peeling I am sure after much use.
It’s been years since I have seen this popular game of my youth. On top of the paint are maroonish red painted lines that divide the board into pie like sections. On each section is a painted number. I can’t even recall the exact color paint of the numbers. It may be the same maroonish red or a navy blue or something. Boy, it’s been awhile. Or early onset Alzheimer’s is here. Let’s hope it’s not the latter. Anyhow, each player gets to take a turn spinning to see if it lands on his or her number, which previously had chosen. On a brown lunch bag in front of each participant is written his or her lucky number. When the spinner lands on a number, the winner gets to pick his or her choice of a delicious piece of candy from a huge bowl that is placed on the table next to the spinner.
The game of “Spin Board” goes on until the candy runs out. All players go home with a bag of yummy goodies and the fun of the game lasts for a long time, providing loads of laughs and camaraderie for all, not just the kids, but for the adults, too! Imagine, all the joy just from a piece of wooden board and a spinner. Perhaps, my grandfather should have gotten a patent for this!
After the games we enjoyed dinner. What would a birthday celebration be without cake to follow? Our cakes were not bought from a local store or bakery, but made in our kitchen by our mother. (We were also lucky that she didn’t work during our early years and was home with us). Simple presents were handed out as gifts like dolls and clothes and a few dollars. Some gifts were wrapped in the Buffalo News Comics section. Growing up back then was different than in today’s modern world, that is for sure. We didn’t get high dollar electronics for presents.
Everyone who attended had a great time at these birthday parties. Besides the “Spin Board” goodie bags, my childhood friends went home with a small token for attending the party. These usually came from the famous toy store in Buffalo, “Golembiewski’s” if memory serves me right. I remember walking through the store and looking down all the aisles and finding the perfect items for my parties. Going to that store was almost as much fun as the party itself.
That Spin Board has been resurrected in years past as my brother’s children have been introduced to the fun game and got a chance to see what their father’s and aunt did at their childhood birthday parties. Number three you’re a winner, pick out your candy!
Wendy Schreiner recalls the thrill of a simple game.