I vaguely remember some game called 'word building' when I was quite young. Later when I was finishing high school, I got to know the game of Scrabble through my street mate Shankar. He came from an illustrious and intellectual family. His grandfather was a Priest in the Royal Palace. Veda Brahma Gundavadhani, a great scholar who was also featured in Kannada Magazine Kasturi in the issue of March 2010. His grand daughter had compiled it.
Shankar's father was G.Sachidananda, son of Gundavadhani. He was a Hindi Professor in the Mysore University. He was another intellectual also proficient in English and Mathematics. He used to write maths problems in chalk on the floor of his living room [cement floor] and solve them while discussing with Shankar and his brothers. "Braininess" seemed to run in the family.
Shankar grew up in such environment. He too was quite brainy. They had a Scrabble set with them and when I went there many times, I used to find a group including his neighbours engaged in Scrabble. Sachidananda used to show his vocabulary and the total score of the games was very high which meant all of them played well!
Shankar used to bring this set to our house and some of us friends used to play. We played more in the summer vacation. This was in the mid 70s. When he took the set home, when we [younger brother] wanted to play, it was difficult to borrow each time, as we did not have Scrabble with us, nor was it available in the city in any shop. So what to do? Make one myself! Another new project had arrived!
Around the same time, my grandfather's law books had been given away after his death. Many other old books [from my great grandfather's time] that were totally unnecessary were also being sold off to increase shelf space. In culling out the unwanted ones, I found many nice hard bound books that had to be sold. The binding was old but neat. I had separated them and kept them aside [there were many!] for some later use.
I set about making our own Scrabble set.
Making the board [copy from Shankar's] was easy, but how do I make the letters? These card board pieces were perfect. How do I cut it neatly and uniformly? I had the carpenter's chisel and mallet that my late uncle had and I knew how to use it. Lo, it worked reasonably well. I then wrote the letters and scores on each one of them using felt pens. I also made the shelf [see in the pic below] - four of them. It was from the left over pieces of Balsa Wood from my Aeroplane project.
Board, letters and shelf from balsa wood
Cardboard letters I made
We played a number of games with it. While picking the letters from the bag, these did not make the sound that Shankar's plastic letters made. It was silent picking!
Many years later, I requested my childhood friend, Srinivas to bring me a Scrabble Set from America where it was available and of good quality. He was kind enough to oblige me. My children have played with both these sets.
Scrabble Set from Srinivas
Beautifully cut wooden, embossed letters - from Milton Bradley
Shankar introduced me to..
and I must remember him in this post because we had many hours of loud laughing [also ROFLOL at times] during play, much to the 'annoyment' of my grandmother who wanted us to stop laughing. Ask me why we laughed? We used to make funny, non existent words from the letters we had got on our shelves! It was great fun! This 'funtainment' also helped me get to know a lot of new words as we consulted the Dictionary after we made the word!
Trash has given us an appetite for art. -- Paulene Kael.
To invent, you need a good imagination and a pile of junk. -- Thomas Alva Edison