My Rebound Christmas

It was 1974.  The golden age of electronics had not yet dawned.  Coleco’s handheld Electronic Football was still in the lab.  I was many years away from my first Radio Shack Tandy 1000 computer.

My radio had transistors.  It played songs like:

  • Come and Get Your Love by Redbone
  • Bennie and the Jets by Elton John
  • Midnight at the Oasis by Maria Muldaur

and

  • Jungle Boogie by Kool and the Gang

Somewhere along the way, a game called Two-Cushion Rebound caught my eye.  It could have been from this commercial:

Or it may well have been from an ad in Boys’ Life magazine.

This was way before Elf on the Shelf .  I don’t know how he did it, but somehow Santa found out about this.

My parents always made Christmas great.  Each December 25  stands out in my mind as fabulous.  My folks never had a ton of money.  However, they always seemed to make the right choices.

On this particular Christmas, my siblings and I awoke to the splendor of piles of wrapped presents.  Rip, rip, rip, tear, tear, tear — and there it was in all its cardboard glory:

I lifted the lid, and this is what I found:It took two seconds to assemble.  My dad stretched two rubber bands round the pegs at the head of the board:

And away we went.  Sliding the steel marbles wrapped in hard bumpers down the smooth, hard, plastic surface of the game board was so much fun.

After a voyage around the two “cushions,” the sliders reached the promised land — a grid containing designated point zones.  But, this was a game of finesse.  An over-application of strength on a slide would result in a one-way trip into the pit of doom.  Unless…you were skillful enough to knock your enemy’s rollers out of the point zones.

Forget that this game was nothing more than a blatant rip-off of the ancient game of shuffleboard with a few added twists — it contained just the right amount of  movement and skill necessary to capture the attention of a nine-year old in the pre-liquid crystal display era.

And so we passed an enjoyable day, sliding, ricocheting and racking up the accumulated points.  I’m sure there were other great toys as well.  But, Rebound is the only one that survives memory 37 or so years later.

Little did I realize that the best part of the day was still to come.

Relatives a-plenty came over that night for dinner.  The pull-out extensions were placed into the dining room table.  The fancy china made an appearance.  The flanks of the table were secured by card tables manned with juveniles.  Steaming roast/ham/turkey/manicotti/shells dishes were carefully carried to table and then indelicately consumed by the ravenous.

At one such memorable meal, my grandfather mistakenly “salted” his entire plate with bottle of Piels Light Beer.  Hmmm??? I’m guessing that wasn’t his first of the day.

After dinner, the carcass of the beast and the sticky, gelatinous residue of the casseroles were cleared away.  The nuts were then set out.  After being painstakingly shelled and consumed, the mounds of empty husks were removed.

All hands then retired to the living room.  More presents were exchanged.  Expectations were considerably lower at this stage of the proceedings as you were more likely to acquire sweaters and socks from extended family than from Santa (who was infinitely cooler, of course).

Then, the “showtime” portion of the program would begin.  On bad holidays, the unfortunate children would be compelled to perform musically.  On good ones, we kids were allowed to show off the day’s loot to our kin.

On this Christmas, no one in our house could have foreseen that Rebound would become the source of so much entertainment.   The good people at Ideal Toys would have clasped their hands together and rubbed them vigorously in satisfaction if they had had a keyhole view into our family’s holiday doings that evening.

My two heroes with some other guy named Reggie

Roy White and Thurman Munson of the Yankees could not be present for this event.  So my two other heroes — my grandfathers — pinch hit for them.  Both men (who became pretty good friends over the years) became enthusiastic Rebound players.

Perhaps Rebound‘s derivation from other games sparked memories from long ago in these two old men.  I would like to think that, over the course of the night, they were transported back to their own childhood days.

“Hug the rail,” offered one grandfather in an Italian accent.  “Not so hard.  Easy does it,” said the other.  Cousins, boyfriends, uncles, parents, all hunched over the board, boisterously cheering on the participants.  At some point, one of the older members of the family remarked, “This is a really fun game.”

There were the cheers, groans and wonderful sense of cameraderie that an evening of gentle competition can bring.

It wasn’t really about the toy.  However, the toy served as the vehicle for the good time that we all experienced.

Many of those Rebound players are now dead and gone.   But they live on in vivid clarity in my mind.  The indelible souvenirs of one of my favorite Christmases of all time.

— The Major

My Grandfathers -- Gone but not forgotten

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3 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Deborah O'Shea on December 17, 2011 at 5:19 pm

    I printed this out for Chip — I knew he would love it!

    Reply

  2. Posted by Teresa Lancer on December 17, 2011 at 7:43 pm

    There were many Christmas days spent in happiness due to loving people, good food and the joy of the toys of my happy children. I always loved the day and the enjoyment both children got from your toys. God, I miss that so much! Thank you for reminding me of our Christmas past. As always, love Mom

    Reply

  3. Posted by Teresa Lancer on December 17, 2011 at 7:46 pm

    I meant to say “both children and adults”

    Reply

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