Thursday, January 1, 2015

Longing for the Past - Green Ghost

I know I’m getting old. The first sign was a strong desire to roll my eyes at the younger generation’s version of pop-culture. Even though I own an iPod, I can’t manage to say iAnything without sarcasm coloring my voice and a strong urge to explain how things were “when I was your age.” I've resigned myself to the constant battle against becoming the old man with a cane, chasing delinquent kids off his lawn. To distract myself, I’m writing about the first sign of my impending decrepitude, nostalgia.

I remember a lot of things from my childhood with what's probably, I admit, undeserved fondness. I mean, come on, I come from the era of parachute pants, Poison, and the Cabbage Patch Kids. The seventies and eighties were filled with, well, crap that I'd sooner deny any connection with than defend. But there are those odd-ball markers that I can't think of without a deep, longing sigh. Sure, I could go on about all the easy, cultural markers. It'd be safe to wax on about Star Wars, GI Joe, and the pre-Michael Bay Transformers, but there’s more than enough chatter about them. Instead I thought I'd wax nostalgic over the outliers, the things time has almost obliterated from cultural memory.

In 2015 I'll be visiting the toy box of the ages and dragging out a few things that'll I hope with bring back a few memories for you too. Either that or they'll prove that I'm not only turning into an old crank, but possibly teetering on the edge of my generation's norms. Only one way to find out, I guess, and that's kick this thing into gear with the first of the toys from the past: The Green Ghost. 

I remember my mother bringing the Green Ghost home after one of her frequent garage sale trips. It was released by TransoGram Company in 1965, two years I was born. The box pretty much looked like this picture, 1950's nuclear family gathered around the soft, radium glow of the game board with looks that don't occur in nature plastered on their doughy faces. Unpacking the box, it was a simple racetrack board with a few plastic pieces for atmosphere and a gelatinous-looking ghost spinner with a rubberized finger pointer.

My brother and I would retreat to the garage and turn out the lights, then play would begin. I don't know if we ever finished a game, but if we did it must not have been very impressive because I don't remember the rules. I do remember the creepiness of sitting in the dark, with only the poisonous glow of the spinner to read by. With each spin we became more and more convinced there really was a green ghost and that it probably was inside the house just waiting for a chance to spring. Yeah, I'm pretty sure that's why I don't remember the rules - we never finished a game.

Back to the box, I'm not exactly sure what the mystery was, you moved your pieces around the board and drew cards that either helped or impeded your getting to the end goal. Never really thought of that at the time though, because that damned green ghost was lurking out there somewhere, oozing along the ceiling, getting ready to drop on your head at any moment...yeah, I better put the game up now. I mean shouldn't we be playing outside in the sun, the healthy, bright, sun?

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