For as long as my memory can reach back, there are two games I know of that stand out in my mind as the chosen ones of my family, equality on both sides of where I come from. When I was a kid I can recall being sent to bed while downstairs hours and hours of games of Rook—the card game that plays a bit like Bridge—would go on. I’ve heard stories of how my grandmother and grandfather loved to “shoot the moon” at the game, and how on one Easter Sunday the game went on well into the wee small hours of the morning.
Rook was a game that I never was taught to play, so I don’t have quite the deep seeded love for it in my heart as my parents do. The other game that I will always associate with my family, my mother’s dad, in particular, is “Wheel of Fortune.” I know what you’re thinking, “The game show? The one that’s been on since time began? That game?” Yep. That game. Strip away the air of it being a “TV game show” and you still have a pretty decent game going on.
My grandfather, Max Bible, passed away when I was seven years old. My memories of him are not as clear as my other grandfather, who died when I was fourteen. But I do have one very vivid memory of Max Bible. Every weeknight, like clockwork, without fail, he would watch “Wheel of Fortune.” Not only would he watch “Wheel of Fortune,” but he would call his mother on the phone and they would watch the entire episode together, trying to beat one another into solving the puzzle—he often had a notepad in his lap while he watched to keep track of what letters they both had used and each other’s score.
As a kid, whenever I would be at my grandparent’s house in the country, I would sit and watch along with him. He would tell me his sure-fire way to play the game, giving me little tips that people on the show never picked up on. He would say “why don’t more people pick a ’T’ first?” To this day, whenever I play a home version of “Wheel of Fortune” if I get first to pick, I start by picking “T.” My Grandfather, I called him “Dada,” bought me a “Wheel of Fortune” home game when I turned five. I still have it, it’s upstairs in my bedroom closet.
Thus began the tradition of me having a variety of “Wheel of Fortune” games in my house. I’ve had many over the years, both tabletop and electronic. I owned the game for my Sega Genesis, I had Tiger Electronic’s handheld game—which was a lifesaver on long school trips. This is a tradition that has carried on well into my adult life, just a few weeks ago on Christmas morning I was gifted “Wheel of Fortune” for the Nintendo Switch by my parents.
Every time I play the game I think of Max Bible, he loved technology oh how I wish he could have lived into the era of the internet. He would have loved, and been astounded, by a smartphone. So now I’m gonna go and guess a “T” as my first guess the way my grandfather taught me—and not to blow all my money on buying vowels. See you next week.