In Memoriam: Ann E. Fowler, the Person Who Introduced Me to Board Games
Bill Carrigan
United States
New Jersey
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My aunt, Ann Fowler, passed away early this morning, September 2, 2013. In trying to find a way to express my grief, I decided to create this list because she was the one who introduced me to board games.
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1. Board Game: Chess [Average Rating:7.10 Overall Rank:431] [Average Rating:7.10 Unranked]
Bill Carrigan
United States
New Jersey
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My aunt Ann Fowler passed away today, September 2nd, after a complication during heart surgery. This list is one of the ways that I am trying to deal with the loss of this wonderful person whose contributions to my life transcends the kin connection. I have decided to post something on BGG because one of the contributions she made was to introduce me to boardgames. No one else in my family loved boardgames, and my first memories of all of them are playing them with her at my grandparent’s house during holidays. She taught me chess on this fantastic giant board (which was actually a table with its own legs) with wonderfully large pieces of European architecture and statues. I remember her gentle manner of teaching me to play and the day that I finally managed to beat her (I am sure she let me win) and then the time when I was good enough to give her a competitive game without any help.
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2. Board Game: Monopoly [Average Rating:4.38 Overall Rank:17015]
Bill Carrigan
United States
New Jersey
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Other people in my family played games with me but none has the special place that Ann does, the one who taught me to love boardgames. I remember playing Monopoly with her so many times and the room we played in, the den where my grandfather kept all of his pipes. The room is special to me for many things but it will always be in my mind the place where I played boardgames with Ann as a child.
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3. Board Game: Scrabble [Average Rating:6.28 Overall Rank:1620]
Bill Carrigan
United States
New Jersey
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As I grew older, she introduced me to more games like Scrabble. In this game, she was always a few steps ahead of me. As an English teacher, she had a great vocabulary. This is one of the other things about Ann that I loved, her love of language and of reading.
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4. Board Game: Agricola [Average Rating:7.99 Overall Rank:25]
Bill Carrigan
United States
New Jersey
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One of the ways that Ann influenced me was less direct. I grew up on a farm in central Texas. I did not like growing up on a farm. It seemed to be an incessant amount of hard work, often up for work before leaving for school, straight to the fields after school for work until “dark thirty” when we finally ate dinner. Most of the folks in my family seemed to enjoy all this outside work in the Texas heat. One of those who did not was Ann. She was a teacher and while she also helped out with our family farm, I always felt she was a kindred spirit because what she did as a career was inside, air-conditioned, and about academics. I already loved school, in part because I was good at it and in part because it was the thing in my life that was “not the farm.” Many years later, during and after college, I became aware of how valuable it had been for me to grow up on a farm, how it taught me to work hard, to appreciate nature, to respect and deal with things that are beyond your control (like the weather or world events impacting prices of things). All of this was beyond my teenage mind to comprehend. For me, my aunt Ann (and another important childhood role model Mike Stark) represented hope that my life might not be endless farm work, but that there were other careers and paths one might choose.
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5. Board Game: Risk [Average Rating:5.58 Overall Rank:16246]
Bill Carrigan
United States
New Jersey
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As I grew older, Ann also adapted with me. She didn’t like Risk as much as I did as a teenage male, but she gamely played it with me anyway, happy to be playing a board game with her nephew. She never broke treaties or betrayed anyone in that game, even though it led her to lose all the time, but she still seemed genuinely to enjoy the experience. Once again, I didn’t appreciate it at the time but she taught me that playing the game was the point, winning secondary.
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6. Board Game: Trivial Pursuit: Genus Edition [Average Rating:5.21 Overall Rank:16954] [Average Rating:5.21 Unranked]
Bill Carrigan
United States
New Jersey
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This is one of the last games I remember playing with Ann before I went to college, my grandparents died, and our holiday gatherings changed. The game was fun for me and Ann, and we were more successful getting other members of our family to play.
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7. Board Game: 10 Days in Europe [Average Rating:6.61 Overall Rank:1767]
Bill Carrigan
United States
New Jersey
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Ann was a special influence on me in several other ways. One of the things that Ann liked to do more than almost anything else was travel. She was always going on trips to faraway places on her summer vacations and returning with stories and photographs. I knew that I wanted to travel and see the world just like she had done. Again, it was part of seeing the larger world beyond the farm.
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8. Board Game: Thebes [Average Rating:7.16 Overall Rank:424]
Bill Carrigan
United States
New Jersey
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Ann was also an amateur archaeologist. She travelled for many years to digs in the Middle East with a team of archeologists from Rice University. Her fascination with history and the past through archaeology was an obvious inspiration to me. I went on to become a history major and now a history professor at a University.
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9. Board Game: Love Letter [Average Rating:7.26 Overall Rank:241]
Bill Carrigan
United States
New Jersey
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Of all the contributions that Ann made to my life, however, none was probably greater than her indirectly leading me to my wife. When I went to college, Ann insisted that I meet a student of hers who was also starting as a freshmen at UT Austin the same year. Her name was Catherine, and she had gone on the archaeological digs with Ann as well. She too was indirectly inspired by Ann, majoring in classics and studying Latin and Greek. In any event, I persisted until Catherine agreed to meet with me and we became friends. One of the things that we did was meet for lunch, and she often ate lunch right after her Greek class with her fellow students, one of whom was Emily, my future wife.
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