Family Stories: Playing the Game – Scrabble

Family Stories

Playing the Game… Scrabble

Playing games was not something I grew up doing, but in my husband’s family… they were big game-board players… all types of games… Monopoly, Scrabble, and many Card Games; I learned to enjoy board games after I married.


The many Scrabble games of my mother-in-law

The biggest scrabble players in the family were my mother-in-law, Celia and her sister Dolly; I remember them playing almost every afternoon. When I married Steve was when I acquired an interest in playing games, but I was no match for them in their scrabble games… it was a long time before they let me play… they never played for free!

Were they thinking of playing in Scrabble Sweepstakes?

When we cleaned out her home, we found several of her Scrabble games and brought them home… today we pulled them all out to photograph. Steve went through each one, checking if all pieces were there… and for the most part they were all complete except for a letter or two missing. Many of the tile letters ink has faded, from so much use Steve says, and there were a few tiles half broken… from the times they were thrown on the floor… maybe when a word was refused!

Why so many games? Whenever a new game style came out, Celia had to have. I’m not sure on all the travel ones… did she go somewhere… and took them? Her favorite one was always the newer plastic one in which the tiles were recessed on the board and it sat on a disk that easily spun around. We also bought one like it, as when we first married we began playing board and card games like 500 Rummy… no Facebook, phones or computers!


The famous “eyedog” word!

Dolly remembers the funniest word every “tried to be played” was by her brother Freddie, when playing a game with his brother Frankie. Freddie spelled out “eyedog“. Frankie called it stupid and probably knocked the letters right off the board. Hey you can’t blame a guy for trying! I don’t remember ever hearing of any scrabble games where the brothers played with the sisters… although they later played more than their share of poker and  knock rummy. Most evenings you’d find many of the siblings and other family  members playing a few hands of knock rummy in their mother’s kitchen! It was a nightly ritual!

No game was played by Celia and Dolly without the famous Webster’s Dictionary on the edge of the table… if they found the word inside, top or bottom… they played them! Their Rules! They were very competitive… which drove them to play hard to win the money on the table… games were never played for fun!

A few of the famous “big” dictionaries… any word, top or bottom was fair game. Duct tape held everything together, from the many falls off the table!

The most famous dictionary was made by weekly visits to the Rivoli Theater… downtown West Haven. They sucked you in by giving you a free letter pack once a week… only given out during the week… encouraging more weekly business. It was often Steve who went to the movies with his mother, they were the big movie buffs in the family. The night they played The Man with the Golden Arm with Frank Sinatra, his father and brother also came. Unfortunately David got sick, and dad didn’t get to stay for the end, as he had to take him home. Steve remembers how the family in Shelton was mad when they learned she took a ten year old to see that movie; his father’s family had a different view on family life.

The weekly letter sections were given out at the candy counter… every week a different letter, but sometimes they’d have the previous week if you missed a show. Steve says his mother usually gave him ten cents for candy when he went to the counter. It was Steve’s job to assemble each weeks letter pack to the dictionary book.


Steve and I later became hooked on the board games Clue and Careers and played with his aunt Dolly and her husband Joey… more known as Joey Bags. So many family members had nicknames… but that’s another story! I remember many all-day Saturday afternoons of one game after another… I miss those days… and games! We later graduated from the board games to the game of OTB… Off Track Betting. Then it was on to the weekly Saturday racing forms… spending the morning arguing over who the winners would be… and who was the best mudder!

Dolly and I play scrabble today, but it’s called Words for Friends and played on an app…on our phones… she in her house and me in mine; how times have changed!  These type games lose the personal touch of being with the person, and having conversations, but like they say… it’s a totally different world today, but Not necessarily for the better!


Click for more … Family Stories

© 2018, copyright Jeanne Bryan Insalaco; all rights reserved


About Jeanne Bryan Insalaco

My blog is at:
This entry was posted in Daily Writings and funnies..., Family Stories and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Family Stories: Playing the Game – Scrabble

  1. Antoinette Truglio Martin says:

    My grandma was a master Scrabble player. She was always right when we referenced the huge Webster dictionary.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Oh, what memories. I miss all the game playing, as my husband only plays bridge (which he takes very seriously and is now a bridge pro). But at my girlhood home we played scrabble. My mother was cut throat. Because she was an English teacher, she expected everyone to believe any combo she played was a word. If we couldn’t find it in a dictionary, she would complain that it was not a good dictionary–we just needed a bigger one. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.