Last month, I headed to my local Recreation Department to renew my municipal pool pass. While I dutifully waited for the red credit card-sized pass to the joys of summer water fun, I glanced around the neat office and noticed something unfamiliar on top of the file cabinet. Burlingtonopoly. What is this—a Monopoly game populated with the landmarks of my childhood? “How cool is that?” I thought.
A quick inquiry revealed that this piece of small town history could be mine for the very reasonable price of $10. I am a lifelong resident of this town I rationalized. As a good townie, I really ought to have a copy. Besides, our old Monopoly is falling apart—its box fastened together with large, green rubber bands. And surely, a child will learn the concepts of money, investment and prosperity better when applied to familiar locales. Right? I slapped my ten dollars on the counter and headed for the door. I giggled as I clutched my new toy to my chest and hurried out to the parking lot. I couldn’t wait to get home and see the familiar haunts of my youth commemorated forever on a game board.
As I drove up Center Street past the Common, I started to speculate. Can one buy the Town Common? Is the park for sale? What about the reservoir? Did it get the Water Works spot? I could barely contain myself. While I waited for the light to change at Main Street, I itched to slice open the thin plastic covering. The outside of the box proclaimed that this was the bicenntenial edition, 1799–1999. How did I not learn of this amazing collectible before? Since this is a piece of history, perhaps I will be able to revisit bygone years! I thought longingly of the Almays store where I got my first Barbie doll and the Rexall Drug Store with its honest-goodness-real soda fountain.
I forced myself to remain calm. I would not open the game until I was home and could revel in my new discovery spread out all over the dining room table.
As I turned onto Lexington Street, a troubling thought marred my joy. What if my street appears on the board as Mediterranean Avenue? I imagined the shame of having to tell my child that our street garners only $2 rent. How could she ever face her friends? Even with a hotel, the dark purple cards are worth a mere $250. Our house is no hotel. Should we move? Rational thought returned when I realized that our little street is surely too small to have made it onto the board. We’re safe.
As I passed it, I wondered “Is Marrett Road a red or a yellow? Who is dark purple?” If you did live on one of the lousiest streets in town, isn’t that punishment enough? Must you also suffer humiliation at the hands of a Parker Brothers knock off? I was confident that Mill Street, where I grew up, would make the board. Orange, I predicted. No shame in that.
I turned onto my street and stopped just long enough to brag to my neighbors about my new purchase. They were clearly very jealous which greatly increased my joy. I rushed home and bounded up the stairs. I didn’t even bother to check for phone messages. I tossed my purse on the counter and grabbed a knife from the top drawer, slicing the plastic open as I slid the box onto the table.
I hesitated just a moment, marking of the importance of the occasion, and then carefully lifted the cardboard lid. I removed the board and, still folded, set it gently to one side.
What is this? Little red and green plastic circles entered my field of vision. There are no little plastic circles in Monopoly. I guess plastic molded houses are not in vogue anymore. Then, the stack of money caught my eye. The familiar shades of gold, blue, green, yellow, pink and white soothed me. I snatched up the pile of cash and turned it over to reveal the name of a local realtor. Huh? I dropped the money as if burned.
With mounting apprehension, I turned to face the board. Tentatively, and with one finger, I opened it—very slowly. Ads. It was filled with ads. There were no streets. There were no landmarks, and certainly no memories. I’d been had.
Oh well. I am sure it was all for a good cause. At least I got a new pair of dice out of it. We needed some replace the one that we lost from our real Monopoly set. I looked at my ten-dollar pair of dice. How would I ever explain this purchase to my husband?