Board games were an important aspect of family life in the late 1800s and early 1900s, thanks to the industrial revolution that made them affordable. Families and friends spent countless hours around a lively game of one type or another.
Traditionally wooden or cardboard “boards” required certain strategies to win, elements of chance to overcome, or purely chance with no skill needed. As time went on and technology developed, they’ve become more complex. Remember the game, “Operation”? It was cutting edge back then and is still popular today.
As a form of family entertainment, hundreds of games have been created. When I was a teacher, as an alternative to a boring book report, I had students read a novel and create a board game with the characters, setting, and plot. They created Little Women and Tom Sawyer games as well as many more. How fun was that?
In 1893, just miles from the Thousand Islands, a Watertown, NY manufacturer, WR Baker Manufacturing Company, created the “Three Blind Mice” game. The owner of the company, Pitt Baker, dabbled in many ventures in Northern NY and made it quite a hit. As the co-editor of the first boating magazine published in 1890 targeting the recreational boater, called Rudder Magazine, Baker advertised the game in his magazine. After the magazine’s April 1890 launch and immediate success, the magazine's operations moved to NYC and remained in circulation until 1975. Though Pitt Baker stayed in Watertown, he remained a force with the magazine for the many years he and his father oversaw the manufacturing of brass boat and canoe hardware, distributing their products throughout the United States.
The Bakers also had a seasonal store in Clayton NY where he promoted the game. In 1886, advertising claimed this novelty item to be so addictive that husbands frequently returned home to find their wives playing the game with their "dinners unprepared." Oh my!Surprisingly, over 100,000 games were made and subsequently sold to a major NYC department store. As I often do, in Devyn’s Dilemma, I integrate interesting inventions, creations, or fun things of the day into my stories. This game is one of them.
What kinds of board games do you enjoy? I’d love to know!
About Devyn’s Dilemma:
Longing for love, can she escape the shadows that follow her to Dark Island?
1910, Thousand Islands, New York. Others may consider The Towers castle on Dark Island an enchanting summer retreat, but to Devyn McKenna, it’s a prison. Yet as she works as a maid for Frederick Bourne, former president of the Singer Sewing Machine Company, her life blossoms under the kindness of his family and fascinating entrepreneurs such as J.P. Morgan, Thomas Lipton, and Captain Vanderbilt. But more than anything, the growing friendship of Mr. Bourne’s valet, Brice McBride, begins to pry away the painful layers that conceal Devyn’s heart.
Brice is drawn to the mysterious Devyn even though he’s certain she’s hiding a secret, one far more dangerous than the clues they find in The Towers that hint of a treasure on the island. When Devyn is accused of stealing Bourne’s investment in Vanderbilt’s New York City subway expansion, he might not be able to protect her.
Susan G Mathis is an international award-winning, multi-published author of stories set in the beautiful Thousand Islands, her childhood stomping ground in upstate NY. Susan has been published more than 20 times in full-length novels, novella, and non-fiction books.
Her first two books of The Thousand Islands Gilded Age series, Devyn’s Dilemma and Katelyn’s Choice are available now, and she’s working on book three. The Fabric of Hope: An Irish Family Legacy, Christmas Charity, and Sara’s Surprise, and her newest, Reagan’s Reward, are also available. Susan’s books have won numerous awards, including the Illumination Book Award, the American Fiction Award, the Indie Excellence Book Award, and the Literary Titan Book Award. Visit www.SusanGMathis.com for more.