Sometime back in the 1950s my grandfather bought my dad and uncle a board game called Be A Texas Millionaire. It was made by a company called "Texantics Unlimited, a division of the Premiere Printing Company," whose offices were at 620 Texas, an address long-since obliterated to make way for Jones Plaza.

If memory serves, the game was briefly featured in the Neiman-Marcus catalogue but it failed to sell and was dropped. (Texantics had a little more success with a gridiron game called Razzle Dazzle Football.)

Texas Millionaire was a travel game of sorts. Players placed their tokens (plastic oil derricks) at the start -- somewhere in the middle of the Gulf of Mexico -- and flicked a spinner as they wound their way through an oversized map of Texas and to several dystopian hells beyond the border. It was kind of like Candyland, only simultaneously more informative and much more obnoxious.

Texas towns corresponded with their actual primary industries, so you learned alot about the state. At Hempstead, you got $250,000 for the sale of melons; Brownsville shrimp would put half a million in your pocket; and at some indeterminate spot in the Panhandle you could get a cool million for peddling "canned Texas sunshine."

Generally speaking, only good things happened in Texas, with a few exceptions. Chief among them, Texarkana, where unlucky contestants were deemed to have "Yankee dust on them" and dispatched back into dreaded "Yankeeland." In this great northern abomination of desolation, you could lose a million to a rigged shell game, get arrested on a false charge and have to pay a $2 million bail,  get hornswoggled into paying outlandish sums for the Brooklyn Bridge and Washington Monument, and get fleeced on toll roads and restaurants all the way back to Texas. 

You fared little better when you ventured into Mexico. There, our poor Texas travelers fell into canyons, got stuck in mud, got robbed by bandits, and went to jail. One square simply says "Pay pot $100,000 for nothing, senor."

Just one of several dystopian hells beyond the Red and Rio Grande

 

California was home to ludicrous taxes, failed orange crops, doomed movie deals, and jail, albeit a "luxurious" one.  (In contrast to the jail in Oklahoma, which was simply a corral.) The "Western Territory" found you traversing atomic blast areas, losing money in Vegas, and tied to a stake with a caricature of a Native American pointing an arrow at your face. Your Louisiana sojourn found you lost in Cajun swamps and on the receiving end of a crawfish attack.

You could also take periodic long shots -- you'd spin the wheel, and anything could happen from losing your entire fortune to doubling it.

The game's money was beautifully done. Each note bore the picture of a Texas history legend: Crockett, Houston, Austin, Bowie, Lamar, Dowling, and Fannin, and various monuments. There were corny jokes embedded in the serial numbers stuff like "ICUR A TXN 4IAM2." 

Not pictured: the $5m bill featuring Stephen F. Austin

I hope you enjoy the pics as much as four generations of my family have enjoyed playing the game, and here's hoping someone will start printing it again, borderline offensiveness and all.

Houston Post scribe George Fuermann gave the following un-P.C. testimonial on the game's box: "Want your next party to have more whiz than the Marx Brothers? Are your youngsters looking for a deal that's more fun that playing hookey? Then Be A Texas Millionaire is just your dish -- a Texotic answer to everybody's dream and a funderful new parlor game that turns Bank Night into pauper's play. Better than a circus, wilder than a 4-alarm fire at a madhouse, Be a Texas Millionaire puts wits and luck on the line. This is it...Your chance to fly higher than the national debt." 

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