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Tuesday, February 7, 2012


DICEY DILEMMA—Actually, I can’t remember the date of my last incarceration, but our son was very young at the time. My misfortune didn’t matter to him, in fact, he laughed. My wife witnessed the event and she shrugged, “Too bad for you.”

The unkindest cuts were not offering to put up my bail, but those smirks. I see them in my sleep as I shuffled directly to jail and could not pass go, nor could I collect $200.

Seventy-seven years ago on Feb. 7, 1935, the game of Monopoly was invented, which means most of the population alive today has been in jail—Monopoly jail.

The inventor’s name—a man who who has tossed more folks in pokey than a Pacific Beach sobriety check point--was named Charles Darrow. And, who is the rich guy logo of the game played by billions worldwide? That’s Mr. Monopoly, who began life in 1935 as Rich Uncle Pennybags. More trivia: the character locked behind the bars is called Jake the Jailbird. Officer Edgar Mallory sent him to jail.

Despite selling more than 275 million games have been sold worldwide and it’s available in 111 countries, in 43 languages, the game didn’t impress the execs at Parker Brothers, makers and marketers of the game. If fact, at Darrow’s first presentation they rejected the game citing 52 design errors.

Undaunted, Darrow was like many other Americans, he was unemployed during the Great Depression, and the game's exciting promise of fame and fortune inspired him to produce the game on his own. With help from a friend who was a printer, Mr. Darrow sold 5,000 handmade sets of the Monopoly game to a Philadelphia department store.

People loved the game! But as demand for the game grew, he couldn't keep up with all the orders and came back to talk to Parker Brothers again. The rest, as they say, is history! In its first year, 1935, Monopoly became the best-selling game in America.

You’ll find Boardwalk and Park Place in Atlantic City as the New Jersey city was the source of the game’s street names while the railroads were east coast-based.

Image: Mr. Monopoly courtesy of Hasbro, current owners and makers of Monopoly.

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