For Its Inventor, The Game of Life is over.

The Game of Life-the box top I remember.

Pink and blue pegs in a tiny plastic car. A pathway that took you to college and a job. A spinner that made a great, whirring, sound but needed it frequently oiling. Stock and insurance certificates. And $100,000 bills with Art Linkletter’s picture on it. It was all in The Game of Life.

I grew up in the mid-’60s playing Life with my family. It was faster-paced than Monopoly, less cerebral than Scrabble or Chess, and harder to cheat at than Go to the Head of the Class (yes, I memorized all the questions). And it was fun, twirling the spinner and hoping for the career with the highest salary. You could wind up a millionaire, or you could wind up in the poorhouse.

By the time we were raising our kids, Life had fallen well down the list of treats on family game night, far below our favorite, Sorry. Still, our first thought for the theme at Laury’s Bat Mitzvah was to base the celebration on Life. Only when the party designer couldn’t grasp the concept did we switch to an Animal Kingdom idea.

This morning I learned that Reuben Klamer, the man who invented The Game of Life, passed away on September 14th. He was 99 years old–almost making it to that ultimate life marker of a century.

It feels like another little bit of my childhood is seeping away. As the sole survivor of my first nuclear family, I have no one to share that time of my life with. There is no one who remembers the nightly dinner table (always starting with Campbell’s Soup, always including dreadful canned vegetables); who remembers the Sunday night’s watching What’s My Line (me peaking around my bedroom door into the living room); who remembers the weekly walk down Morse Avenue to Ashkenaz for kreplach soup, a toasted bagel, and a Coke.

So you see Mr. Klamer, the end of your days has made me nostalgic and a bit sad. I don’t know how you lived your life, but I know your Life was part of a wonderful time in mine. Wherever you are now, your spinning wheel will never stop whirring for me.


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