There are some fond memories from my rather jumbled childhood that revolve around small pamphlets and staple backed catalogs. Hour upon hour was spent reading and re-reading every bit of text until memorized. Images bright and bold dazzled the eyes and sparked a feeling of desire. For many of you who grew up in the 1960’s and 70’s I’m quite sure you know where I am heading with this.
However, for you “younger” folks out there this may be a little difficult to understand for it was truly was another age. A dark age compared to these in which we live, yet filled with a magic all of its own.
Ahem… I digress
The pamphlets which were my bibles of the time were the Avalon Hill Game Company’s catalogs which were included inside every title they produced. It was usually front and center, the first thing one saw after removing the box lid of an awesome new war game. Of course the catalogs were laid aside, at first, as the game in hand took precedence over everything else. Laid aside yes, but not discarded.
For later in the day or evening, after I was worn to the bone from playing I would lay back on my small bed and read about some of the other games that were out there to buy. I would dream of owning the entire catalog as a massive collection, or I would imagine what it was like to play such interesting looking titles reading the brief descriptions ad nauseaum in an attempt to “see” the game in my mind’s eye.
The pictures of the boxes, with their wonderful artwork, including the lettering enthralled me. Games like Panzer Blitz with its orange and black bookcase box and the striking image of large tanks silhouetted on the cover. Waterloo with Napoleon proudly astride a white horse with a simple background that screamed “this game is fantastic buy me!” And my all time favorite box art Jutland. The iron cross replaced the T in Jutland above a portrait of a WWI battleship firing its guns in darkness. Every night before going to sleep I would look at those little books full of wonder and sigh, for though the desire to buy them all filled my heart to bursting I knew that such could never come to pass. Ten dollars, the going rate per title when I was a boy, was not easy to come by. To give you some perspective ten dollars was equivalent to an entire large brown paper bag filled with groceries. You know the ones we used to cover our school books in.
I did on occasion fill in the provided easy to use order form, carefully marking down the name of the game and it’s cost. I usually would get ten on the list before I realized how foolish I was being. Then again you never know if that benevolent rich uncle you never heard of was thinking of you on his death bed and he left you a fortune with which to buy games. Hey it could happen.
This was how I spent many an hour, letting my imagination run wild and my hunger for more exciting hex and counter adventures consume me. Even now when I come across an old AH catalog that managed to survive the ages, I find myself smiling at the memories of a small boy filled with imagination.