We looked at one wartime card game, Old Maid, last week. There were obviously many different card games produced during the war for children to play with and whilst some were new games others were just updates of old games with a wartime twist. Tonight we have a set of cards that sadly do not have a box or a rule card to identify which game they are for:There are a total of forty eight cards, of twelve designs with four of each design. Digging around online I have seen indications that this was for the game of Snap and was originally produced by Woolworths. This would certainly seem plausible as if it is played with a standard pack of cards Snap normally involves players trying to match ‘2s’ or ‘5s’ etc. where there are four of each in a pack, equating to the four cards in each design here. The cards themselves have a distinctly wartime feel, with bold cartoon designs for each card:
The artwork is very much of its time and these games would have helped alleviate boredom amongst children sheltering from air raids. Here we see children playing cards in a shelter:This was not the only game used to pass the time. Betty McDonald recalls:
Shelters where built in the streets where residents could go when the air raid sirens went off. When this happened, which was often, my job was to pick up a small attach case which contained all of our personal papers and details, insurance policies, certificates and identity cards, money etc and go to the shelter with mum and dad.
The shelter was made of brick, with solid steel door. Inside, on one wall, was a square hole so you could get to the next section without going outside. My dad built me what must have been the first bunk bed made of wood -no steps, really, just like a large wooden table. Mum used to take a blanket which we would both lay on. I cannot remember sleeping, too much going on inside and out.
We used to play games such as guess which film star, using the initials only. One night I had our neighbours guessing for ages, no-one could guess the name of OMR. When finally they gave in I said proudly Old Mother Riley!