No, this post isn't about getting a job in an antique store, or opening a buggy whip factory. It's about Careers, the excellent Parker Brothers game. I have one from 1955 that I used to play all the time with my sister when we were kids. Our copy is, uh, "well-loved." The box is in bad shape.
The board is more intact but it's faded and stained. Still playable, says I!
The game play is pretty clever. Before you start playing, you must decide what 'success' means to you. Divide 60 points among three categories: Money (each point is $1,000), Fame (represented by stars), and Love (hearts). I can't remember exactly, but I think I usually put $40k, 10 Fame, and 10 Love. (I would go for the Uranium Prospecting career to get the big bucks; more on that later.) You write your goal under the flap of your wax reusable score pad.
Then you travel around the board in a traditional board-game way, rolling dice and collecting resources (or losing them) along the way. If you get an opportunity card, you can use it to enter a career without having to land exactly on the starting square for that career. Once you pick a career, and you meet the resource requirements, you get to go along an inner path that's specific to your chosen job. This is 1955, less than a decade before actual manned space flight, so Expedition to the Moon is one of them.
I like that you can earn Love just by appreciating the beauty around you. Very poetic.
Also 1955-ish are the little touches of sexism. Apparently, moon rockets have stewardesses, wives are always spending your money, and a "mink" (code for a floozie, I assume, though maybe it's meant to imply a bribe? Unclear) can derail your political career.
The 80's child that I was often chose Uranium Prospecting because it was both lucrative and had a twinge of danger. Nuclear war was the big boogeyman of the time, and I knew uranium was terribly radioactive, so the idea of having it in a children's game was darkly funny to me.
There's so much to love about this game, including the beautiful retro font for the money, and the design for the cards.
Keep an eye out at tag sales and flea markets for Careers. There are updated versions out there but they aren't nearly as charming, and tell you no information about what people of "the past" valued.
p.s. I just noticed that one of us shaded in a guy on the instruction sheet, possibly to add a token amount of diversity to the game...
I'm Debbie Way, an artist and writer who enjoys making things.