In 1860, the year Abraham Lincoln was elected President, a lanky, long-nosed, twenty-three-year-old Yankee named Milton Bradley invented his first board game, on a red-and-ivory checkerboard of sixty-four squares. He called it the Checkered Game of Life. Play starts at the board's lower-left corner, on an ivory square labelled Infancy--illustrated by a tiny, black-inked lithograph of a wicker cradle--and ends, usually but not always, at Happy Old Age, at the upper right, though landing on Suicide, with a noose around your neck, is more common than you might think, and means, inconveniently, that you're dead. "The game represents, as indicated by the name, the checkered journey of life," Bradley explained, in his Rules of the Game. There are good patches, and bad, in roughly equal number. On the one hand: Honesty, Bravery, Success. On the other: Poverty, Idleness, Disgrace. The wise player will strive "to gain on his journey that which shall make him the most prosperous, and to shun that which will retard him in his progress." But even when you're heading for Happiness you can end up at Ruin: passed out, drunk and drooling, on the floor of a seedy-looking tavern where Death darkens the door disguised as a debt collector straight out of "Bleak House"--the bulky black overcoat, the strangely sinister stovepipe hat.
The Checkered Game of Life made Milton Bradley a brand name. His company, founded in 1860, survived his death, in 1911, the Depression, two World Wars, and even my mother, who worked there in the nineteen-forties. In 1960, to celebrate its centennial, the Milton Bradley Company released a commemorative Game of Life. It bears almost no resemblance to its nineteenth-century namesake. In Life, players fill teensy plastic station wagons with even teensier pastel-pink and blue plastic Mommies and Daddies, spin the Wheel of Fate, and ride the highway of Life, earning money, buying furniture, and having pink and blue plastic babies. Along the way, there are good patches: "Adopt a Girl and Boy! Collect Presents!" And bad: "Jury Duty! Lose Turn." Whoever earns the most money wins. As the game's ad slogan has it, "That's Life!"
If, like me, you played the 1960 version of Life while wearing bell-bottoms and listening to a 45 of Elton John's "Rocket Man," you have a pretty good idea of what happened to Milton Bradley's nineteenth-century game about vice, virtue, and the pursuit of happiness: it was reinvented as a lesson in Cold War consumerist conformity, a kind of two-dimensional Levittown, complete with paychecks and retirement homes and dental bills. Inside the game box are piles and piles of paper (Life is . . . paperwork!): fake automobile insurance, phony stock certificates, pretend promissory notes, and play money, seven and a half million dollars of it, including a heap of mint-green fifty-thousand-dollar bills, each featuring a portrait of Milton Bradley near the end of his days--bearded, aged, antique.
In the board-game industry, the 1960 Game of Life, which has sold thirty-five million copies, is like that portrait of Old Man Bradley: a giant with gray whiskers, enjoying a very Happy Old Age. Only a handful of games have had as long a shelf life. (Who still plays Park and Shop, another game sold by the Milton Bradley Company in 1960, whose object was "to outsmart the other players by parking your car in a strategic place, completing your shopping quickly and being the first to return home"?) Beginning in 1992, Hasbro, the Rhode Island-based toy company that had acquired Milton Bradley eight years earlier, revised Life, slightly, to market it to the baby-boomer parents who had grown up with it: the station wagons became minivans, and, a few miles down life's highway, you could have a midlife crisis. Over the years, Hasbro has sold custom editions as movie and television tie-ins; if you have time on your hands, and a boundless tolerance for the cloying edginess of Nickelodeon, you can play the Game of Life in Bikini Bottom SpongeBob SquarePants Edition. Or not.
Last year, Hasbro asked, "What would the Monopoly game be like if it were invented today?" and released Monopoly Here & Now, with new game pieces that include a cell phone, a box of French fries, and a laptop. This year, Hasbro is asking the same question of Life. Its answer, the Game of Life: Twists & Turns, will hit stores this summer. But maybe a better question than "What would Life look like if it were invented in 2007?" is "How did Milton Bradley come to invent a game of life in the first place?" How, in other words, did Life begin?
"I, Milton Bradley, . . . have invented a new Social Game," Bradley declared on his patent application. But the genealogy of the Checkered Game of Life stretches back centuries. Bradley's invention is descended from a family of ancient Asian games--members of a genus that R. C. Bell, in his amazing compendium "Board and Table Games from Many Civilizations" (1960), labelled "square board race games"--whose common ancestor is probably a thousand years old. In India, Jna[macron]na Chaupa[macron]r (the "game of knowledge") is played much like the Checkered Game of Life: land on a virtue and you get to climb a ladder toward the god Vishnu and karmic liberation; land on a vice--or karmic impediment--and you're swallowed by a snake. (Beginning in 1892, Jna[macron]na Chaupa[macron]r was sold in Britain as Snakes and Ladders; in the United States, it survives today as Chutes and Ladders.)
How young Milton Bradley, on the eve of the Civil War, came to adapt an ancient Asian game to a red-and-ivory checkerboard featuring an American vision of the good life is nearly impossible to piece together from the scant documents about his life that survive. (Bradley kept a meticulous diary and, throughout his life, preserved his correspondence, which formed the basis of James J. Shea and Charles Mercer's 1960 biography of Bradley, "It's All in the Game," and which, at the time, were housed at the company headquarters, in Springfield and East Longmeadow, Massachusetts. Sometime between then and when I visited those archives, in 2006, the papers were lost or destroyed.) But he didn't have to look half a world away to imagine that life would make a good board game. There were plenty of examples closer to home.
That life's a game that can be played well, or badly, is a very old idea and, at least in the last few centuries in the history of Western civilization, a commonplace one. The people in Thomas More's "Utopia" (1516) play a game of life, "not unlike our chess," consisting of "a battle between the virtues and the vices." How to win, and whether you're playing against yourself or against God or Satan, are matters of considerable philosophical speculation. "Man's life's a game at tables," read a seventeenth-century epitaph, "and he may / Mend his bad fortune, by his wiser play." The young Milton Bradley, too, believed that "the journey of life is governed by a combination of chance and judgment." His game works the same way: there's what you spin, and there's where you choose to go. The Checkered Game of Life is a game of destiny checked by strategy.
But Bradley came from a family ruled, for generations, by nothing so much as an angry God. The Bradleys had been in New England since 1635, when Daniel Bradley, an apothecary's son, settled in Salem, Massachusetts. Their sufferings were Biblical. Daniel was killed by Indians in 1689, six years before Abenakis captured his fifteen-year-old son, Isaac. In 1697, another son, his wife, two of their children, and three more Bradley children died in an attack on Haverhill in which Hannah Bradley, the wife of still another of Daniel's sons, was taken captive. She escaped, only to be captured again in 1704 and carried to Canada; on the journey, she gave birth to an infant who was killed when her captors poured hot embers into its mouth. Her husband, Joseph Bradley, trudged after her through waist-high snows, with his dog, to pay her ransom and bring her home. The next time an Indian came to her door, Hannah shot him. (She lived to be ninety, but her old age was probably more haunted than happy.) In 1739, two of the next generation of Bradleys, Samuel and Jonathan, were cut off in their youth in an ambush in New Hampshire. By the time Jonathan's direct descendant Milton was born, nearly a century later, and given the name of the Puritan author of "Paradise Lost," the family's fortunes had not gained much against adversity.
Still, the story of Bradley's ancestors was a story not of failure but of fate: God had chosen to visit them with affliction, and there was nothing they could do but praise Him. They would have had little patience for the eighteenth-century coffeehouse debate over which game life is most like. By the end of the century, the debate had become a cliche. "Sure, life's a game of cricket," a Bostonian joked in 1785. "Yet death has hit my wicket."
Milton Bradley's ancestors might have agreed with the English poet Nathaniel Cotton, who, in 1794, complained that the metaphor itself was heretical:
, That life's a game, divines confess;, This says at cards, and that at chess;, But if our views be center'd here,, Tis all a losing game, I fear. ,
Profane or no, it was only a matter of time before the quip that life's a game inspired someone in England to make it a game. A board game called the New Game of Human Life was first sold in London in 1790. In an age still very much under the influence of John Bunyan's "Pilgrim's Progress" and Samuel Johnson's 1751 essay "Voyage of Life," it's hardly an accident that the New Game of Human Life was engraved and inked by a London printer who specialized in making maps: its Life is a journey along a twisty path from Infancy to Immortality, with eighty-four stops on the road, one for each year, in which the players' (or pilgrims') progress is speeded up by virtue and slowed down by vice. Land on the Duellist, at the square marked 22 (the twenty-second year of your life), and you'll be sent back to age 3 (for acting like a child); land on the Married Man, at 34, and you get to advance to the Good Father, at 56. Whoever dies first wins.
Like most "new" games, the New Game of Human Life was an old game tarted up. It adapted its board and rules from a game called the Royal Game of Goose, which was invented in Florence in the sixteenth century, and was itself descended from a class of board games that R. C. Bell calls "spiral race games." (The oldest spiral race game may be the Hyena Game, played by Arabs in Sudan, in a groove traced in the sand with a stick and involving a race between pebbles representing the players' mothers, who leave their village and head to a well at the spiral's center, where they must wash their clothes and return home before a hyena catches them.) By the seventeen-twenties, English printers had adapted the spiral race game to the idea that life is a voyage in which travellers are buffeted between vice and virtue. It was this central Christian allegory that (as its instructions asserted) gave the New Game of Human Life its "UTILITY and MORAL TENDENCY." Parents were advised to play with their children and "request their attention to a few moral and judicious observations explanatory of each Character as they proceed & contrast the happiness of a Virtuous & well spent life with the fatal consequences arriving from Vicious & Immoral pursuits."
The New Game of Human Life showed up in the United States at least as early as 1798 and apparently had a long life here. Had Milton Bradley's long-suffering forebears condoned games (which, as Puritans, they did not), they might have liked the New Game of Human Life. At least they would have recognized its logic: life is a voyage that begins at birth and ends at death, God is at the helm, fate is cruel, and your reward lies beyond the grave.
All of which combine to make it, by our board-game standards, unbearably dull. There's no strategy, just dutiful to-ing and fro-ing, in abject obedience to the Rules of the Game and the spin of the teetotum, a numbered, six-sided top used in place of dice, which many nineteenth-century Americans shunned as immoral. Even worse, there's a disquieting absence of adversaries; you're racing against the other players, but you're not competing against them, the way you are in, say, Monopoly, when you can charge them exorbitant rents. And, as for parents offering up "a few moral and judicious observations" at each square, I have tried this--giving my best impression of an eighteenth-century parent--and all I can say is: no dice. When my six-year-old landed on the Docile Boy, at square 9, I asked him, "Do you know what 'docile' means?"
"It means you should do what I say, you little blister."
"Yeah, right. Um, your roll."
The next games of life played in the United States, the Mansion of Bliss and the Mansion of Happiness, were both produced in England, beginning around 1800. They look a lot like the New Game of Human Life--spiral race games adapted to the pilgrimage of life--and they're just as awful to play. Both represent immortality, life's final destination, as a heavenly mansion, which was then a popular Christian conceit. "O Lord! Deliver us from sin," one American evangelical prayed in 1814, "and when we shall have finished our earthly course, admit us to the mansion of bliss and happiness."
In the U.S., the Mansion of Bliss never really took off, despite the fact that the phrase "the mansion of bliss" was also used as an admiring term for a woman's breasts. But the Mansion of Happiness had a more successful American career. It was sold in the United States at least as early as 1806. An American edition appeared in 1843, based on revisions to the English game made by Anne Wales Abbott, the editor of a Boston-based juvenile serial called The Child's Friend and Family Magazine, and it went on to become one of the century's most popular and enduring games.
The Mansion of Happiness is abundantly pious. The rules begin:
, At this amusement each will find, A moral fit t'improve the mind;, It gives to those their proper due,, Who various paths of vice pursue,, And shows (while vice destruction brings), That GOOD from every virtue springs., Be virtuous then and forward press,, To gain the seat of HAPPINESS. ,
Whether it's amusing is more difficult to say. The Mansion of Happiness is one of those games which are hard to finish, mostly because the wages of sin are so harsh--"Whoever becomes a SABBATH BREAKER must be taken to the WHIPPING POST and whipt" (a retreat of six squares)--that you're forever going backward and losing turns. However popular the Mansion of Happiness was with the parents who purchased it, many of the game boards that survive in archives are in such suspiciously good condition that at least one historian has wondered whether children--who must, invariably, have been given the game as a gift--could ever bear to play it. After all, its rules read like a sermon: "Whoever possesses AUDACITY, CRUELTY, IMMODESTY, and INGRATITUDE, must return to his former situation till his turn comes to spin again, and not even think of Happiness, much less partake of it."
Before he invented the Checkered Game of Life, Milton Bradley had scarcely begun to think of happiness. The only son of an insolvent, itinerant craftsman, he was born in Vienna, Maine, in 1836. When he was about ten, his hapless father, Lewis, invested what little money he had in a process for turning potatoes into starch, just months before the American potato crop was devastated by the same blight that drove hundreds of thousands of Ireland's poor farmers to immigrate to the United States. This, in turn, lowered the wages at factories like the textile mills in Lowell, Massachusetts, where Lewis Bradley was forced to move his family in 1847 to take a job that paid eighty-five cents a day.
While his father worked in the mills, Bradley attended Lowell's grammar school and high school. After graduation, he was admitted to the Lawrence Scientific School, in Cambridge, but he had to drop out when his father left Lowell for Hartford, in search of a better job. By 1856, Bradley had made his way to Springfield, Massachusetts, where he found work as a mechanical draftsman. Four years later, he started a lithography business and brought out an immensely popular election-year lithograph of a clean-shaven Abraham Lincoln. Just when it seemed that the young striver had finally crawled his way to Success, he nearly sank into Ruin: Lincoln grew a beard, making Bradley's inventory worthless.
After he manufactured enough boxes of the Checkered Game of Life to make a sales trip, Bradley travelled to New York, walked into a stationery store, and, his biographers recount, said to the manager, "How do you do, sir. I am Milton Bradley of the Milton Bradley Company of Springfield. I have come to New York with some samples of a new and most amazing game, sir. A highly moral game, may I say, that encourages children to lead exemplary lives and entertains both old and young with the spirit of friendly competition. May I demonstrate how it is played?"
The Checkered Game of Life is deceptively simple. Twirl the teetotum and move your counter around the board, collecting points by landing on any of the eight point-value squares. Whoever earns a hundred points first wins. Some squares help you along, little lithographed hands pointing the way, as when Perseverance leads you to Success, worth five points. Spinning a 2 from the red square between Ruin and Fat Office forces you to land on Suicide and die, but almost any spin from nearly every other square involves a decision, a choice among as many as eight possible moves. Unlike the New Game of Human Life or the Mansion of Happiness, the Checkered Game of Life requires you to make decisions, lots and lots of them. It's best to have a plan.
Most players try to go to School, which allows you to jump to College (worth five points), heading, slowly, toward the top of the board and Happy Old Age, worth a whopping fifty points. But your chances of going to School are not good: from your starting position, at Infancy, you have to spin either a 3 or a 6. You might end up at Poverty instead. But don't despair. "It will be seen that poverty lies near the cradle," Bradley wrote in the Rules of the Game, explaining why he had placed Poverty just two squares from Infancy. But because "in starting life it is not necessarily a fact that poverty will be a disadvantage, so in the game it causes the player no loss." Even if you skip School altogether, you may be rewarded by landing on Honesty, and sent from there directly to Happiness (worth five points).
It's possible to win the Checkered Game of Life without ever reaching Happy Old Age--after all, lots of people die young--but it's not easy. And, as Bradley warned, "Happy Old Age is surrounded by many difficulties": land on Idleness, and you'll be sent to Disgrace, at the very bottom of the board, which means that you have to climb back up all over again. Here's another word of advice: Don't enter Politics, if you can possibly avoid it. You'll go to Congress and earn five points, but you'll be carried away from Happy Old Age and you'll woefully increase your chances of landing on Crime and ending up in Prison, where you lose a turn, "For any person who is sent to prison is interrupted in his pursuit of happiness."
In his application to the U.S. Patent Office, Bradley insisted that his game was "intended to forcibly impress upon the minds of youth the great moral principles of virtue and vice." But the Checkered Game of Life is at least as dark as its predecessors and more ruthless. (It has another distinction, too: it was enjoyed as much by adults as by children). In the Mansion of Happiness, landing on TRUTH--which you can't avoid, if a spin of the teetotum sends you there--advances you six squares; in the Checkered Game of Life, Truth exists, and you can choose to seek it out, but it has no value. Bradley's game rewards Industry and Perseverance with Wealth and Success. It has no use for Patience or Charity, which aren't even on the board. (For a time, the game promoted betting on the stock market, with a square called Speculation.) The Checkered Game of Life isn't a race to heaven; it's a series of calculations about the best route to collect the most points, fastest. Accumulate, or fail.
Milton Bradley sold at least forty thousand copies of his game in its first year, and decided to sell Games for Soldiers, a portable set of games (including the Checkered Game of Life, backgammon, checkers, dominoes, and chess). It found a place in the knapsack of many a Union soldier.
"You could never in a million years sell it today," Mel Taft, a former vice-president of research and development at the Milton Bradley Company, said about Bradley's Checkered Game, when I spoke to him by phone a few months ago. In 1959, when Taft and his colleagues were preparing for the company's centennial, they never seriously considered reviving Bradley's original game. It was so obviously and so dreadfully dated--it even had a square for Intemperance. They decided, instead, to hire a California firm famous for starting the hula-hoop craze to develop a new game of life. I asked both Taft and Reuben Klamer, who was an inventor of the 1960 game, if either of them had ever played the Mansion of Happiness. They hadn't heard of it. But the board game that the Milton Bradley Company released in 1960 as the Game of Life actually looks a good deal like the Mansion of Happiness, just with lots of pieces of plastic attached to it. It's a serpentine race game, a path representing the voyage of life, from high-school graduation to retirement. (In Life, you never die; you just quit working.) There are plenty of differences. In Life, some squares offer rewards ("Contest Winner! Collect $5000!") and others mete out penalties ("Buy Furniture. Pay $2000"), but none are morally freighted; the game lacks any sense of life as a battle between vice and virtue. The object of the two games is different, too: at Life's Day of Reckoning, you count your cash, not your good deeds. And Life's most important squares are its red-letter "PAY DAY!"s.
What you earn on those paydays depends, in large part, on a crucial choice you make on your very first move: will you go to college, or take a job? If you start work, you can collect paychecks right away; if you go to college, you have to pay tuition, but you earn more when you eventually do start getting paychecks. After that, there are occasional financial decisions to be made--do you want to buy life insurance? would you like to invest in the stock market?--but these, and the piles of papers and plastic babies, serve mainly as a distraction from the play's basic passivity. Like the Mansion of Happiness, Life is a journey along a (mostly) fixed path, where only one thing matters. And, like all earlier spiral race games of life, the Game of Life is essentially about fate--not whether you're fated to enter Heaven but whether you're fated to retire to Millionaire Acres. If the Checkered Game of Life brings together choice and chance, the Game of Life has only one real fork in the road: work or study.
Life vaulted over the rest of Milton Bradley's inventory to become the company's flagship game, but it drew criticism, especially as years passed. The game is so relentlessly amoral and cash-conscious that a nineteen-nineties redesign team, eager to make it less so, pretty much gave up. When I visited Hasbro in February, a game designer told me that whenever people tried to make the game less about "having the most money it got really complicated." They did add Life Tiles, which allow players to accomplish things and do good deeds, except that the only way to be rewarded for your virtue is in the game's only currency: cash. Save an Endangered Species: collect $200,000. Solution to Pollution: $250,000. Open Health-Food Chain: $100,000. Recently, some of the old Life Tiles and the board's rewards have been replaced. You used to be able to get $100,000 for winning a Nobel Prize; now you can earn the same money for going on a reality TV show. But it's hard to tinker with success. "With this product there is so much nostalgia, there's only so much we can change," the Hasbro designer Dan Sanfilippo said.
Exactly because the 1960 Game of Life is so hard to change, Hasbro is about to launch its new, new, new game of human life. The Game of Life: Twists & Turns is not a checkerboard of choices; it's not a fixed and fated path. There is, instead, a plethora of paths. The Twists & Turns game board is divided into four squares--Learn It, Live It, Love It, and Earn It--through each of which a colored path snakes its way. Players decide how they want to spend their time--going to school, having kids, hanging out, travelling, whatever. You begin using a tiny plastic skateboard as a game piece; if you like, and if you earn enough, you can convert it to a sports car. You can play for five minutes or five hours; you can play till "American Idol" comes on. There are multiple places to begin, each called Start, but there's no place on the board called "Happy Old Age" or "Immortality" or "Millionaire Acres" or even, simply, "Finish." This is actually the game's selling point: it has no goal. Life is . . . aimless. (The game's box shouts, "A THOUSAND WAYS TO LIVE YOUR LIFE! YOU CHOOSE.") When you do decide to stop, whoever ends up with the most Life Points wins, but, heck, winning isn't everything. And, after all, you get as many points for scuba diving in the Great Barrier Reef, or for donating a kidney to a loved one, as for getting a Ph.D.
Money is a big part of the Game of Life: Twists & Turns. But there's no cash. Instead, each player gets a Life-Visa-brand "credit card" to insert in the game's electronic Life Pod, which keeps track of Life Points--earn more, spend more! "We are not marketing to kids," a Visa spokesman, Michael Rolnick, has said, responding to complaints about the Visa-Hasbro deal. "We are helping to educate kids. It's never too early." Hmm. Let's just say that Twists & Turns has a rather forgiving attitude toward the highly leveraged player. "If you're bankrupt in Monopoly, you're watching," a Hasbro Games vice-president, George Burtch, says. "In this game, you can be hugely in debt, but you're still playing!" In the Mansion of Happiness, there's a square for that kind of thing. It's called the Road to Folly.
After Milton Bradley's early success with the Checkered Game of Life, he pursued other interests. In the late eighteen-sixties, he had another big hit with croquet, whose rules he patented and whose equipment manufacture he perfected just as a fever for the game swept the nation, not coincidentally, on the heels of the claim that croquet was . . . just like life. "Croquet is the game of life, you see," says a character in a Harriet Beecher Stowe novel published in 1871, after which another agrees, "One may read all sorts of life-histories in the game. Some go on with a steady aim and true stroke, and make wickets, and hit balls, yet are croqueted back ingloriously or hopelessly wired and lose the game, while others blunder advantageously and are croqueted along by skillful partners into all the best places."
After croquet, though, Milton Bradley dropped the ball. In an era when success made the man--when to fail was to be a failure--Bradley, to some degree, spurned his own achievement. He reached Fat Office, and he left it behind. Far more than most Yankee businessmen of his generation, he came to reject the notion that where you go in life is simply a matter of where you steer yourself. There were such things, in Bradley's mind, as lousy starts, rotten luck, and bad cards. "The journey of life is governed by a combination of chance and judgment," he wrote in 1866. As he grew into his middle years, he apparently came to believe that some people had been given better chances than others. Beginning in the late eighteen-sixties, Bradley devoted himself to the nascent kindergarten movement, a social and political reform as much as an educational one, which insisted that very young children could learn through art and play,a kind of learning that would set them up not only for future academic success but for happiness, too. The push to offer education to four-, five-, and six-year-olds was essentially a nineteenth-century equivalent to Head Start, in which reformers worked to establish free kindergartens for the children of the poor. Enthralled by the movement's philosophy, Bradley turned his energies toward manufacturing crayons, colored paper, color wheels, flash cards, and watercolors. He invented the one-armed paper cutter. In 1869, he entered the publishing business with "The Paradise of Childhood," a lavishly illustrated manual for kindergarten teachers, adapted from the philosophy of the movement's German founder, Friedrich Froebel. Starting in 1893, Bradley published the monthly Kindergarten News.
As he aged, Bradley earned a reputation for taking naps in his office; he ordered the presses in his factory stopped for an hour and a half around lunch every day, so as not to disturb him. In 1910, the year before he died, his colleagues presented him with a book of tribute essays titled "Milton Bradley, A Successful Man." But, writing in 1902, Bradley reflected that, of all he had done, he was especially proud of his (often unprofitable) educational inventions: "In using the word success, I do not wish to confine its meaning to that cheap interpretation which sees only the glitter of gold or the glamour of illusive fame. In my case, I cannot overestimate the feeling of satisfaction which has been with me all these years at the thought that I . . . have done something, if only something prosaic in character, to place the kindergarten on its present solid foundation." It was a lesson that a child could have drawn from playing the Checkered Game of Life: Beware of Ambition! It sounds good, but if you land there, you are promptly sent to Fame, a square that not only has no value in itself but also puts you perilously close to Jail, Prison, and Suicide.
When Bradley was a young man, he had written in his Rules, "In starting life, it is not necessarily a fact that poverty will be a disadvantage, so in the game it causes the player no loss." But near the end of his life he seems to have come to believe that he had been wrong. He may even have regretted that he had placed Poverty so close to Infancy, and made the chances of getting to School no better than one in three. The kindergarten movement was about beating those odds, or bettering them. It promised a kind of redemption. Maybe Milton Bradley saw in making crayons for kindergartners not only their second chance but his, too.