May 7, 2009
Dartmouth Happy Families
While my mother was pregnant with me, she became friends with a lovely English family who had bravely traveled to Bulgaria. They began a correspondence via letters, and when we relocated to England, eight years later, those same dear friends invited us often for Easter, Christmas and so forth, and took wonderful care of us. Including staying at the river and seaside town of Dartmouth in Devon. There we delighted in the luscious clotted Devon cream with scones, dabbled in the aristocratic lifestyle, and seized the Dartmouth castle.
During this same time the town Dartmouth, as a fundraiser, created a card game every year, drawn by local artist, for family fun, and as collectibles. The characters in the game featured real citizens of Dartmouth, many of which had names that correspond with their profession. Such as J. Price, bank manager, and Roger Carr, limousine car hirer, and Simon Drew, artist, who illustrated his own family for the cards.
I have two of these treasured card decks bought for me by our friends, called Dartmouth Happy Families, and the game itself is very simple. All the cards are handed out to three or more players, and the aims is to collect as many families as possible, and the one with the most wins. The players take turn asking one of the others for a specific member of a family they are trying to collect. The entertaining part surrounds the aspect that most players have the same favorite families, and no one wants to get stuck with unsightly Sleep family or the Nashe's, whilst everyone years for the dreamy Carr's. My other favorites were the girls of course, especially Miss Measure because she was a cool teenager and wore makeup, Miss Price for her nice accessories and lifestyle, Miss Drew, because I like art and her freckles and Miss Kain because she was so sweet and wholesome. I would play with these cards as if they were dolls and set up scenes and scenarios.
I do not know when this tradition of creating the cards began or when or whether it ended, and I cannot find any further information on the subject, all I can say is I will treasure them as heirlooms. Here are some for your viewing pleasure: