Old Parker Brothers Game: The Dana Girls Game
The 1965 Dana Girls game by Parker Brothers is based off a story in a series of mystery books (The Dana Girls) published by Grosset & Dunlap from 1934 to 1979. The books were written by Carolyn Keene, a pseudonym for a group of writers, who also wrote the Nancy Drew series. In the Dana Girls series, two main characters, Louise and Jean Dana (orphan teenage sisters) solve mysteries while at boarding school or on vacation with their Uncle Ned.
The Dana Girls game brings the adventure and mystery of the 1957 Dana Girls book, entitled The Winking Ruby Mystery, to players. The instructions for the game include the following introduction:
“How would you girls like to solve a mystery while you are in Europe?” The speaker was the Dana girls’ uncle, Captain of the ocean liner ‘S.S. Balaska.’ “Uncle Ned,” Louise and her younger sister Jean cried, “you managed to get reservations.” “That I did my hearties,” Captain Dana replied. “What is the mystery?” asked Louise. “Well,” said the Captain, “just before we docked, I received a call from Gino Morzi, a musician, to come to his stateroom. When I arrived, he grabbed my hand and gasped, ‘Please, Captain, save Carlo……Winking Ruby…..Hurry!’ That was all he said and then lapsed into a coma.”
The beginning of the book, The Winking Ruby, starts the same. Players, who have read the book, know the rest of the mystery. I won’t ruin it by telling and will only share how to play the game.
There are two types of cards; Seaman and Ruby cards. To begin, players take out one each of clue card 1 and 2 from the Seaman deck, and one each of clue 3 and 4 from the Ruby deck. These four cards are placed on the Police Station space on the board. The rest of the cards are placed in their marked locations on the board.
The first player to reach finish with a set of clue cards (1 thur 4) wins the game. The game is a simple race style. Players roll the dice. Based on the different spaces landed upon, and the cards drawn, players follow the various instructions given, in order to move around the board. There isn’t much, if any, strategy involved.
Like many other games based from books or movies of the time, the joy of playing The Dana Girls game comes from expanding the adventures found in the book to a game board. Those, who loved reading and solving the mysteries in the stories, will have fun playing the game. Players become the characters.
The game and books, together, make great for collecting. As a game collector (and even though I collect all games), I especially like displaying games with the books they are based from. It’s a ‘collection’ within a ‘collection.’ Like the Spooky Old Tree game, that is based from the book of the same name, and one of my kid’s favorites, the Dana Girls game is one which holds a special spot for me. The game is displayed with Dana Girls books that were my mom’s.
Games are created for many different reasons. Continuing the adventure of reading, to playing, is just one of the many, but one of which I enjoy collecting most.