The Savings Game, by Carlton B. Wilder
This is from an email I received from Marjorie Wilder:
Carlton invented the Savings Game as a giveaway item for banks or savings and loans,
when he was a commercial artist, in 1962. He wanted to beat Monopoly, because in
that game he felt the winners got ahead too early, and everyone else sat around losing.
We were moving back at that time from three years in Florida---Tampa and Jacksonville/
Atlantic Beach---to Crystal Lake, Illinois. The man who had been renting our house there
thought the game was wonderful, and that he could sell it to Chicago banks. There was enough excitement about it for us to produce it. It was printed by Worsalla Printing Co. in Wisconsin, not produced or printed by Whitman.
Birmingham Federal Savings & Loan, for whom it had been designed, ordered and paid for
the first shipment.
Our salesman had First National Bank of Chicago ready to take it on, said the VP, if
the President of the bank approved it when he got back from advising the Government
in Washington DC. He said No.
The salesman showed it to Bank of America office in Chicago, who liked it and arranged
a meeting in San Francisco for our salesman to show it. They turned it down, but said if yes,
they would have ordered one million--or two million---copies. Carlton's brother had us meet
with a lawyer about handling the huge income.
We had learned that this would have meant a lot of box cars lined up at the printer to handle
so many! But the salesman lined up the grocer Jewel Tea Company, and they agreed to
try the game in a small northern Illinois town---I'll think of the name---Carlton says Waukegan--Jewel contracted for a guaranteed sale for say 100 games. We learned later that we
were the guarantors. The games for Jewel Tea came back to our attic. Worsalla
stored the rest that we had produced in their warehouse.
Walgreen's said it would be happy to take on the game, if we paid $50,000 for promoting it.
A friend in Jacksonville with a partner was impressed. They asked Carlton to design a game
they could sell at every resort in the mountains. Carlton designed The Mountains Game and
did the artwork, for which they paid him, and they had it printed in Jacksonville. He also
designed and did the artwork for a promotional game for Ryder Truck Lines.
We moved back to Jacksonville. Friends and acquaintances loved The Savings Game,
even had clubs to play it. Eventually Worsalla asked to clear the warehouse, and we
donated those games to a workshop for the mentally disabled in Wisconsin. When we moved onto
"Comesin" in 1976, all our household goods went into storage. When we finished building
our house at Littlelot in 1991, the games came to this attic, and diminished slowly by requests. And then by destroying a portion of the remnant.
Would we re-publish it? In a minute! For a guaranteed sale!
But invention didn't stop there. Another friend in Illinois played golf with the president of
---thinking----water softener----game Hey, Culligan Man!---yes, Culligan water softeners!
Some were given out nationally. That ended, and Carlton changed the name of the movable
tiles to 36Fits. Western Publishing liked it and produced it, changing the name to Switchboard. We received royalties for a number of years. They ceased, and Western was sold to Hasbro, and I never followed up on it. There was another game called Try! that fell by the wayside, due to the demands of becoming a fine artist instead of a commercial one. All the games required a lot of playing by our four sons and Carlton's mother.
This is the history of a glorious---perhaps fiasco. It sure was genius, and it sure was fun.
I have written it today May 24, 2008 from memory, instead of washing the breakfast dishes.