Monday, June 08, 2009


I was thrilled to find this great hard-cover crossword puzzle book at a yard sale recently. It isn’t used at all and has 400 puzzles from the Sunday NY Times. It was a bargain at 50 cents and will give me literally hours and hours of fun.

A strange thing happened when I settled down to work on the first puzzle though. I realized that there were no clues having to do with computers, cell phones, etc. There were some that referenced TV but most of the actors and the shows were ones that hadn’t been on the air for years.

The kicker came when I had a 6 letter word and the clue was “a college in East Orange, NJ”. I knew at once that it had to be “Upsala” because I had actually gone there for the first two years of my college education…transferring to Boston University in my Junior year. The thing that puzzled me (no pun intended) was that Upsala has been closed for years.

Then it occurred to me ...these were indeed authentic NY Times puzzles but from a much earlier era. Sure enough, I found that these were published over 40 years ago. It is amazing how much has changed.

It occurred to me that a young person today would be hard pressed to know what some of the clues were about. For instance, one clue read “with 79 across an old ‘Laugh In’ phrase” and the answer (which I actually could remember after I’d put in a few other words) was “look it up in your Funk and Wagnalls”. Is there anybody reading this that remembers that?

The interesting thing to me is that I actually seem to be doing better with these puzzles than I do with the current ones. It’s a relief not to have to have clues about computer language and hi-tech electronics. Just working on these puzzles is transporting me back to the easier, slower pace of years gone by and I’m enjoying it immensely.


Blogger kenju said...

I buy spiral-bound or tear-out sheet crossword books from book stores; I can't remember the ones I like best, but they are not NYtimes puzzles. Anyway, many of them are from decades ago and I often think about how my kids would have no clue for most of the answers!

You sure got a bargain, though.

4:15 PM  
Blogger KGMom said...

Ha ha, Ginnie. I would imagine that things have changed.
Oh yes, I remember Laugh-In and Funks & Wagnalls.
For very similar reasons, I like to play Trivial Pursuit the Classic version, none of these upadted ones for me. I don't know current trivia.

5:08 PM  
Blogger Anvilcloud said...

I don't do crosswords, but if and when we play Trivial Pursuit, I do much better on the older versions.

6:53 PM  
Blogger Tossing Pebbles in the Stream said...

It is our short term memory that becomes difficult as we age. You seem to be enjoying some very rich long term memory activity.

This notion of the crossword puzzle as a repository of social/cultural history is interesting. This could be the subject of a Phd. dissertation? I guess you are not interested in going back to school.

7:02 PM  
Blogger Syd said...

I have to laugh about the Funk and Wagnalls. I don't remember it but it just strikes me as very funny. I wish that I had time to do the crossword puzzles.

6:40 AM  
Blogger Cazzie!!! said...

That is wonderful news Ginnie, keeping our mind and bodies active is so impertant, I know this from you :)

4:18 AM  
Blogger azahar said...

So that is why I remember more vividly those years in the primary (elementary) schools - you know the catching of birds, fighting fish, fighting spiders and looking for edible fruits from the wild etc...

1:12 AM  
Blogger Scott W said...

I remember that, plus the Fickle Finger of Fate! Oh, and the Farkle family!

3:28 PM  

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