In the world of board games, Monopoly reigns supreme. It’s the game you played as a child and you either loved it or hated it. But if you lived in Gainesville during the 1970s, the Gainesville- and Hall County-inspired version of the classic board game may be something you remember more fondly.
Photos of the game have been making the rounds on Facebook recently — many people trying to figure out how to get their hands on it, others reminiscing about when they last played.
“I got it when the kids were little,” said Rosemary Goolsby while sitting on the couch at her home with the board game beside her. “I picked it up at a yard sale.”
She said she “couldn’t have paid more than a couple dollars for it” at the yard sale. Her children played it a few times, but it often led to more arguments than it was worth.
“We picked it up because it had something to do with Gainesville,” Goolsby said. “The children played it and they fought, so it didn't work much. Monopoly never went over well in this house.”
Still, she liked keeping it around. Everything from the board to the money to the draw cards had to do with the place she had lived her entire life.
The game, played by the same rules as Monopoly, has local businesses all around the board — Saul’s, J&J Foods, Georgia Printing Co., Curtis Mathes Home Entertainment Center, McGarity’s, The Norton Agency, Knickers, Tom Wilheit Packaging Materials Co. and Peeches to name a few.
Even the money used to purchase the businesses was branded from Gainesville Bank & Trust.
“Me and my middle sister played it,” said Chris Dixon, who grew up in Gainesville and has the board game stashed away in his childhood room. “It was actually quite enjoyable. Of course it's like Monopoly, but it had a lot of the local stuff on there from back in the day.”
The game was part of a fundraiser for Lakeview Academy. There weren’t many made, but there were enough to go around the school, and many of the games have landed in other people's hands since.
“We found out that you could have Monopoly games made and you could have it reflect your own community,” said Mary Hart Wilheit, a member of the Lakeview Academy Parents Association. “So we went out as a parent body and got different businesses to have their names on there. They bought the privilege to have their name on there.”
Wilheit said she thinks the money went into a general fund for the school, as it was in its early years as an academy. It might have helped to purchase books, supply playground equipment and similar things.
Creating the game was a good way to raise money for the school because it also “teaches children quite a few things about money, luck, bad luck and all those kinds of things,” Wilheit said.
It was also a nice change of pace for the parents association. This project was a little more fun than yet-another bake sale.
“We didn't have to work too hard on it, other than selling the ads,” Wilheit said. “A lot of things we did, we had to work at. We had to sell all the food or we had to make the lunches and all that kind of stuff … This was fun.”
Dixon found the same sort of fun playing the game as a child in the early ’90s.
He went to school with Wilheit’s son, so he was always looking to purchase the space dedicated to the Wilheit’s packing materials company.
“I always wanted to try and get the companies that I had been to,” Dixon said. “If there were names I'd never heard of, I didn't care. I remember the one I always wanted was Wilheit Packaging. That was the one I always had to get.”
It might be hard to get your hands on the game now, unless you get lucky at a yard sale or buy it from somebody who’s trying to sell it — and for top-dollar in 2019. But for those who do own it, the board game serves as a nice and fun reminder of Gainesville and Hall County’s history.
“I just think it's sort of neat, with that specific piece of the past that people are still holding onto it,” Dixon said. “It just shows you that in some areas, electronics haven't replaced everything.”
Goolsby has fond memories of Gainesville and looking at the game board transports her back to her childhood. She was born and raised in Gainesville on Green Street Circle, just off Thompson Bridge Road. Her grandparents, M.B. and Rosa Shiretzki, owned Red Grocery just off the Gainesville square.
So for Goolsby, it’s a game she’ll cherish forever.
“It just means a lot to me because I do have that history,” Goolsby said.