August 11, 2016

                                              Dated -- Game Room Celebrations

Do you remember the "game room" of the 50's, 60's and 70's? Located in the basement of most houses, teenagers would entertain their friends there and slow drag to the six minutes and 13 seconds of  Stay in My Corner at red-light-bulb parties.  I recently saw a rerun of the television show Roc where Roc's father called it the "rumpus room"; another antiquated term.

In modern homes, the "game room" has undergone a metamorphosis. Currently, it is located near the kitchen and has been renamed the  "family room."  However, currently in my mother's home the "game room" continues to exist much in its original state complete with a vintage television set in a mahagony cabinet and brown wall paneling. It is a monument to times past with decor perpetually ready to celebrate any holiday or occasion. 

The "game room" doubles as my bedroom when I visit my mom. During the summer, the upstairs rooms are too hot because she doesn't turn on the air conditioning. In the winter, the upstairs rooms are too hot because the thermostat is on high. The game room sofa is just the right temperature for my sleeping pleasure. The sofa, too, is a relic of antiquity. It was the living room sofa before being recycled to the game room. This was customary procedure "back in the day."

The rest of the room is testament to my mom's eclectic taste in decorating. Next to the sofa is a "stereo system". Yes, an amplifier, turntable, and two 3-foot speakers. In one of the corners there is a telephone table. For those who do not know what this particular piece of furniture is, it is a table with a chair attached and a shelf for telephone books. It is specifically designed for sitting while talking on the telephone. This type of furnishing was commonly seen before phones were mobile; back when telephones were heavy stationary rotary devices wired to a wall jack.

There are three age-awesome things about my mom's telephone table. First, the upholstered seat is covered with plastic as it has been since the item was purchased perhaps some 50 years ago. Second, there are telephone books in the designated space; large ones that used to be printed by the only telephone company, Bell Telephone. Third, there is a mobile phone on the table which is kind of an oxymoron. Who sits in one place while talking on the telephone anymore?

Elsewhere in the room, the walls are adorned by posters that are held up with colorful thumbtacks.  One large one featuring a frog reads "Welcome to my pad." There are also plaques touting the comedic virtues of drinking alcohol such as "He who drinks gets drunk." A list of "Rules and regulations for party goers" is next to a "Prayer is power, pray for peace" bumper sticker, which is next to a "Happy Father's Day" banner dated June 21, 1981, which is next to a high school triangular sports banner, which is next to a Pittsburgh Steelers photo signed by Jerome Bettis #36 (1996?).

The posters and banners are partial testament to the fact that the “game room” stands ever ready to celebrate any party or occasion. Two matching ashtrays adorn the ends of a coffee table (which itself is an heirloom from former livingroom furnishings). As a matter of fact there are a variety of ashtrays on the bar and throughout the room although no one has smoked in the house for at least 35 years. One is shaped like a frog; a couple are crystal. Also on the table is a wicker basket shaped like an Easter bunny that is full of plastic pine cones and plastic poinsietta flowers; and a wicker basket shaped like Santa’s sleigh that is full of plastic Easter eggs and plastic daffodils. A ceramic white Santa Claus on the table looks quite formal compared to the cartoon colorform of a black Santa hanging on the wall over the sofa. Next to him hangs a large red cardboard heart. We don’t want to leave out Valentine’s day.

On the door that leads to the garage is a wreath celebrating fall which I thought was the most modern thing in there until I noticed a wall calendar. It is one of the types I remember funeral homes distributing to local churches at the end of each year when I was growing up. "Do they still make those?" I wondered to myself. I walked over to it and saw the sheets were torn off to the current month and amazingly the current day was circled.

Just a reminder that it's never out of style to celebrate today and the gift of memory. Both always call for a party no matter where you are!