Recently I wrote about the game of Monopoly and the role it has played in mother/daughter road trips and the ability for a capitalistic game to teach life’s lessons. It made me think about those lessons and the choices we make when playing a game and when living our life. For Monopoly, one of the first decisions a player must make along with the other players is what token will become their game piece. The tokens over time become symbolic for individual players and legendary in the myth of the game.
Surprisingly, the game of Monopoly began in 1935 without tokens. Players were encouraged to use ordinary household items as their game pieces: a thimble, a button, pennies, etc. A year later the game was distributed with simple wood pawns, unremarkable but functional. The game’s original tradition was memorialized in 1937 when Parker Brothers produced the first die-cast metal tokens designed after everyday household items. The first tokens included the flatiron, purse, lantern, car, thimble, shoe, top hat, and the rocking horse. The top hat was a replica of the one sported by the game’s Chairman of the Board and his car was patterned after his 1930s roadster. Two additional tokens were introduced that year: the battleship and the cannon because they were in supply for another game called “Conflict.”
Over the years, tokens were modernized, phased in and out, and even converted to wood during the metal shortage during World War II. The dog (Scotty), wheelbarrow, and horse and rider replaced the purse, lantern and rocking horse, and special editions can include customized tokens. There is an amusing post that theorizes what your token selection says about you and is about as accurate as your daily horoscope.
For me, I’ve always been the shoe. According to the article above, it means that I am creative, inventive and want to know the latest and greatest news. Perhaps that is true, but there is something about its elegant shape, the slipper-like quality, and the noticeable tread on the sole that beckons me. Maybe its my inner Cinderella complex, looking for the shoe that fits and the charm that goes along with it. By choosing the shoe, I stand my ground, put one foot forward and look for the finish line. And by choosing the shoe I give hope to those of us who cobble together a living that with a roll of the dice and some well-chosen cards we can become tycoons, land barons and winners.
When it comes to the shoe, I’m wearing it.
© Kelly Tweeddale 2012