Creature Comforts: Toys that Soothe

Creature Comforts: Toys that Soothe

The National Toy Hall of Fame hasn’t embraced cuddly toys in a couple of years. Of course I was thrilled to see The Strong honor the rubber duck recently (have you seen my wedding cake?). But it’s the soft, snuggly playthings—the blanket, the teddy bear, Raggedy Ann and Andy—that give me warm fuzzies. These are…

Rubber Duck: You Make Bath Time Lots of Fun

Rubber Duck: You Make Bath Time Lots of Fun

Bet I can make you smile with just two words: rubber duck. You did, didn’t you? You can’t help but smile. This will make you smile too. On November 7, the rubber duck—along with the game of chess—joined 51 other classic toys inducted in the National Toy Hall of Fame at The Strong. How did…

Chess: Champion Names and Championship Games

Chess: Champion Names and Championship Games

Do you play chess? A World Chess Federation affiliate recently stated that the worldwide number of chess players equals the number of regular Facebook members and, in the United States, more people play chess than tennis and golf combined. Few sports foster such loyalty and global admiration.

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War Gardens: Winning the Food Fight on Home Soil

War Gardens: Winning the Food Fight on Home Soil

Hello, autumn. As pumpkins, parsnips, and apples signal the harvest, I’m gathering artifacts from The Strong’s collections related to a time when farmers were called away to war and civilians rescued the food supply.

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Tea or Monopoly with Mussolini?

Tea or Monopoly with Mussolini?

Some games resonate with political history, and so do some movies. I watched Tea with Mussolini, director Franco Zefferelli’s 1999 semi-biographical film, and it reminded me of a game The Strong acquired in 2012. Monopoli (yes, that’s the correct spelling) is a 1937 Italian version from Monopoly’s heyday. What?! Monopoly is all about American-style capitalism…

Playing for “Keepsies”: Marble Play

Playing for “Keepsies”: Marble Play

Night after summer night, my friends and I would gather under the one streetlamp in our small hamlet to shoot marbles, devising our own simple games with the materials at hand. We didn’t know that the game of marbles, in one form or another, has endured for centuries. Even the Romans played marbles. In 1560,…

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Playing Along: Music in Our Daily Lives

Playing Along: Music in Our Daily Lives

Anyone who knows me will tell you that I love music. On more than one occasion I’ve enthusiastically announced to friends, “I love songs!” because my musical enthusiasm encompasses a broad range of forms—scores, jingles, top 40 hits, or even the impromptu songs I compose while driving (a regular occurrence). A recent encounter with Milton…

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Trading Cards: Beyond Baseball

Trading Cards: Beyond Baseball

With more than 4,000 examples of trading cards in its collections, The Strong has documented the form’s evolution over more than a century and currently shows off more than 800 examples as part of the museum’s Online Collections. From cigarette cards from the 1890s that feature actresses of the day to Star Wars collecting cards…

Ping Pong Patriots

Ping Pong Patriots

Summer, even late summer, means tennis for many who love the warm weather, the sunshine, and the great outdoors. And for those of us who hate to swelter and prefer to get our exercise in air-conditioned splendor, there’s always indoor tennis. The tabletop game goes by many names: table tennis and Ping Pong sound familiar,…

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The Kids Are Alright

The Kids Are Alright

I met some naughty kids when I worked as a babysitter and camp counselor. But after five years with the National Museum of Play at The Strong, I’ve observed enough children to know the good ones far outnumber the brats and that misbehavior, when it occurs, isn’t limited to one gender. So why do little…

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