Sunday, July 8, 2012


Scenes in a recent movie evoked memories of childhood games and pastimes. Three young boys sitting on a rug concentrating on a board game brought a smile to my face. When the camera zoomed in for a closeup of the board, I gasped in delight: Parcheesi!  I recognized the distinctive board immediately and recalled playing Parcheesi with my sister at our grandparents' home and at our house. There was something exotic about that board, the patterns on it, the pathways that our wooden pawns followed...  A hint of India, I think. I remember the safety spaces and the comfort of landing on one. I haven't played Parcheesi in years and no longer recall the rules, though I'm sure it would come back to me rather quickly if my sister and I sat down at an old Parcheesi board. I'd love to experience it again.

Those thoughts flashed in my mind, in the movie theater, triggered by a one-second glimpse of that classic Parcheesi board. The movie camera, meanwhile, moved on to other scenes of children playing in various rooms of a New England home. The house looked fake, clearly a series of open rooms on a studio set, but each room in turn contained delightfully nostalgic details. I wanted to linger and explore, but the camera continued on, showing me other rooms. The overall effect was stunningly reminiscent of viewing a dollhouse!  

I thought of big old wooden dollhouses furnished exquisitely with old-fashioned furniture and peopled by figures in elegant dress. The daughter of one of my mother's friends had such a dollhouse. Each room contained quaint objects that hinted of earlier times and old customs. Fancy furniture and chandeliers spoke of wealth and distinction. It was very special and fragile. "Look but don't touch!"  Even the more modern metal and plastic dollhouses at other friends' houses were not to be touched without permission. I don't recall actually playing with a doll house. Dollhouses were interesting to look at and to imagine playing with, but they weren't really for active play.  I wasn't invited in to play, to stay and rearrange things.  I could only look briefly -- just as in the movie.  A short pause to see one room, to absorb an impression of the carefully designed and decorated set, and then the camera panned to the next room. When the camera returned to the three boys on the floor, they were playing Jacks! -- another old-fashioned pastime, triggering more memories of childhoods past.

For more about Parcheesi, visit these webpages:

What movie was I watching?   Moonrise Kingdom, directed by Wes Anderson.  I recommend it.

1 comment:

Sandy said...

This column drew MANY comments (privately to me) from my relatives. Each listed pastimes they remembered fondly. Perhaps I'll write a followup piece based on their comments, which were delightful.