The SGM Game

Via sg collector nonpareil DA: before The Homecoming board game, there was the SGM Game, ca. 1977.

Fun, as Dad Speer might have said, for the whole fam damily.

I think some of you thought I was joking about being kinda smitten by the Gaither boardgame (and frankly sorry I missed bidding on it), but I’m genuinely fascinated by this stuff (not for nothing was mine the winning bid on that Singing in Tongues album). Partly it’s the kitsch factor, sure. But kitsch is just another way of describing something that you’re mildly embarassed for liking, but all the same have fond associations with for reasons that have less to do with the object and more to do with a part of your life from which the kitsch dates, or an era predating you that nevertheless you’re drawn to.

In effect, kitsch tends to send you down the wormhole of memory … for instance … you’ll notice the game has a spinner … no dice … since dice are instruments of SAY-tin and the DEV-uhl. I learned this at an early age. My paternal grandmother (best grandma ever) used to take us grandchildren yardsaling in the summer and we’d always score an odd board game or two. And invariably, on the way home, whichever of the older kids got to ride shotgun would be instructed to retrieve the dice from the board game, whilst Grandma cranked down the window of whichever of the three VW Beetles my grandfather happened to have kept in running order that day (with parts from the other two). Dice retrieved, window down, Grandma would take the offending cubes, and send them flying into the brush on the side of the road. You could have stocked a small casino with the pairs of dice strewn along the side of Highway 49 between Ironton and Sabula.

When we got back to the grandparents’ house, Grandma would replace the dice by creating a spinner out of  construction paper, one of those two-pronged brass push-pins, and  a cardboard pointer. Thus were our games sanctified … and their playing time lengthened by at least an hour. The spinner inevitably wobbled on its push-pin spindle. And on top of that, it got bound up the coarse fiber of the construction paper, causing it to lurch in ways that always seemed to redound unfavorably to whoever was doing the spinning. And sometimes, it simply went nowhere at all (only my oldest cousin ever figured out how to master the art of the finger-flick, to which this deeply sensitive and unpredictable turn-selector responded most effectively, as opposed to the more obvious, but overpowering and far less-effective single-fingered push the rest of us used - as if we were hoisting into motion a mini-Wheel of Fortune at the behest of Pat Sajack). And then there was the mathematical limitations: having (for reasons that none of us ever thought to inquire after) been  numbered only up to 6 or 7, our Godly games never generated anything approaching 12,  even at peak performance.

There are games of chance, and then there are games of chance.

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  1. judi wrote:

    Hmmmm…one has to wonder why a spinner was OK since it is obviously derived from the roulette wheel, a gambling instrument that the devil might also use. But then there’s no arguing with a determined grandma. I wonder if I drove down Highway 47 and looked for some of those dice, could I sell them on e-Bay as Avery artifacts? A mission for Labor Day weekend, perhaps.

  2. Chris wrote:

    I found a copy of the “Gaither Homecoming” game at my radio station today. There was no instruction sheet/booklet, but there was the board, a box of Trivial Pursuit-esque questions and a small bag with…wait for it….a die (with a tiny pic of Bill on one side instead of one of the numbers) and six little plastic buses in various colors with “The Gaithers” on both sides of each one.
    If memory serves, Kevin Spencer was the person responsible for “inventing” the game and was out in front of whatever marketing was done.
    Now to somewhat hijack my own comment; if you really want to tone down the comments of others, let me start posting the somewhat inane questions on here and those who major in nasty will be so caught up with being the first to get the correct answer posted that they’ll forget all about attacking their neighbor. Riiiight!

  3. Irishlad wrote:

    Obvisously having not come from the South or even the States for that matter, i was just curious to know where Ironton and Sabula are situated,or did Judi give me a clue when she mentioned highway 47?

  4. Revpaul wrote:

    Google maps shows Sabula and Ironton in Missouri, and on Route 47 too!

  5. Quartet Fan wrote:

    Another aspect of the spinner versus the dice is that with the spinner, the odds of rolling any particular number is essentially the same. With dice, certain combinations obviously come up more than others ( 6 and 1 … 5 and 2 … 4 and 3 … 3 and 4 … 2 and 5 … 1 and 6, for example all add to a 7). Not this really has much of an effect for your average board game!

  6. Irishlad wrote:

    In my ignorance i was under the impression Missouri was a Midwestern State.

  7. joe wrote:

    Doug, this was one of my favorite posts. Your memories of your grandmother reminded me so much of my own. (Maybe it’s because I’m from Missouri myself!) I have to chuckle as I look back and remember how she wouldn’t allow root beer in her house because it had the word “beer” in it!

  8. C - a biological wrote:

    My in-laws loved to play games. However, being a minister, those cursed cubes could not be used. A suitable substitute were pencils, each of the six sides inscribed with a number. Then, you would roll the pencils and play the game as though with dice. Of course, I suppose one could shoot “pencils” just as well as dice. C

  9. David Stuart wrote:

    There is also an Ironton, Ohio, which is way down at the southern tip of the state.

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