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Learning to win at the game of life

Reuben Klamer’s passing got me thinking, because there was another recent passing of someone less well-known, except to some lucky people in Media, Pa.

This is a column about life.

It’s a game.

No, literally.

I’m talking about The Game of Life, which wasn’t the most original name for a game about life, but everything else about the game is amazing.

I’m thinking about it now because Reuben Klamer, who invented The Game of Life, died this week at age 99.

I just read his obituary and now I wish I had met him.

That happens every time I read obituaries.

Which I do every day.

The day I stop reading obituaries is the day they publish mine.

Read it and weep.

No, literally.

I mean it.

I was adorable.

To return to point, Reuben Klamer worked at Milton Bradley and got the idea for the game when he was going through the company archives and came upon a game that Milton Bradley himself had invented, called The Checkered Game of Life.

For my two cents, also a bad name for a game.

Is it checkers or life?

Is checkers life?

King me!

Or better yet, jump me.

Anyway, according to Klamer’s memoir, when he saw the game, he said: “Something about the word ‘life’ electrified me. It’s one of the very few things that every single person experiences, so the market, to put it simply, was literally everyone on earth!”

How great is that?

I applaud the ambition of someone who thinks big enough to make a game that will appeal to every single person on the planet.

I grew up playing The Game of Life.

It was a favorite board game of the Flying Scottolines because it was fun. You didn’t have to think, like with Scrabble, and you didn’t have to be cranky, like with Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots. I don’t know if you remember that game, but one robot was blue and one was red and the entire game was them hitting each other.

In other words, cable news.

With The Game of Life, you were issued a little plastic car and you drove the road of life getting married and acquiring kids.

I don’t remember if the game had divorce.

That would be a wrong turn on the road of life.

Or maybe a right turn.

The kids were represented by pink or blue sticks, and I think you needed a husband stick and a wife stick to acquire the kid sticks.

You could not be two wife sticks or two husband sticks.

Or a single wife stick or a single husband stick.

It was a different time.

Bottom line, we were stuck.

You drove past green plastic mountains, which served no function and made it hard to fold the board. But never mind, it was a great time, and I can’t even remember why but I loved it.

Reuben Klamer’s passing got me thinking, because there was another recent passing of someone less well-known, except to some lucky people in Media, Pa.

I’m talking about a wonderful veterinarian named Dr. Victor Menghetti.

I’m a friend of his son, Victor, and daughter-in-law, Paula, so I met Dr. Menghetti many times. He passed recently at age 98, and I want to tell you something about him.

He loved being a veterinarian, taking care of small animals and the people who love them.

And they all loved him back, animals and people.

He was a lovable guy.

He loved his wife, Jeanne, his children, his grandchildren, and his great-grandchildren.

He loved learning so much so that he even though he worked full-time at the vet hospital, he also took courses at Villanova University through the age of 96.


His favorite subjects were physics, astrophysics, and astronomy.

Anytime I saw him, his eyes would light up and he would tell me about his courses. I remember when he tried to explain to me what a quark was. I still don’t know, but he sure did.

And by the way, he started watercolor painting at age 97.


He painted beautifully, putting his whole heart into it, the way he did everything else.

The way he lived his life.

The same with Reuben Klamer. According to his obituary, he was inducted into the Toy Industry Hall of Fame and was coming up with new games into his 90s.

There are lots of ways to live.

You can choose, every day and even every decade.

To my mind, the people who win at the game of life have a lot in common.

They love.

And they give.

They never stop learning.

And they keep looking up.

At the stars.

Look for Lisa’s best-selling historical novel, “Eternal,” in stores now. Also look for Francesca’s critically acclaimed debut novel, “Ghosts of Harvard,” now in paperback.