Custom trivia game reveals generations of Laprade family lore
The Laprade's game is kept in a box covered with pictures of their family that ran in the local papers. Purchase photo reprints »
Marie and Rusty Laprade received the game as a gift in 2003. Purchase photo reprints »
The Laprade Family Trivia Game board and pieces. Purchase photo reprints »
The Laprade family Trivia game pieces which are photos of each member of the family when the game was created in 2003. Purchase photo reprints »
back left, Steve Laprade, Louise Labrie, Peter Brooks, left middle in white is, Marie Laprade, left sitting is Nick Laprade,17, Cathy Brooks and Ron Laprade with the Laprade Family Trivia game members of the family made for their parents, Rusty and Marie Laprade in 2003. Purchase photo reprints »
Rusty Laprade's game piece. Purchase photo reprints »
Some families track their history through genealogy books, photo albums and websites. Others consult diaries or boxes of keepsakes.
For the Laprades, a longtime Easthampton family, it’s a trivia game. Their own.
For the last decade, the family has spent countless hours around the dining room table or in living rooms playing a very personal version of Trivial Pursuit in the form of a board game that bears their name.
Replete with nearly 800 questions about the family’s patriarch, Ronald “Rusty” Laprade, and matriarch, Marie Laprade, and their seven children, the game includes important events in family history, embarrassing escapades and other enlightening — and not-so-enlightening — events that have helped shaped their lives.
The game’s goal, say family members, is to have a little fun, share some memories and, perhaps most importantly, keep the family’s history alive. This latter point is no trivial matter.
“The idea was to create a history so the grandchildren get to have an idea of some of the events in our lives,” said Cathy Brooks, one of the seven siblings who created the game. “It’s learning things about the family and each other.”
Ronnie Laprade, the oldest of the siblings, agrees.
“The goal was to have a game for our family history and that’s pretty much what it still means,” he said.
The family got the idea for the game by reading a short item in Guidepost magazine in 2002. Some members spent several months crafting the board, while others established rules and thought up questions. The children then presented the game with great fanfare to their parents on Christmas Day 2003. Steve Laprade, who now lives in the family house on Lovefield Street in Easthampton, said they were touched by the craftsmanship and thought that went into the game.
“They were flabbergasted; they were so geared around family,” he said.
Cathy Brooks said her mother loved playing the game up to her death in 2005. Rusty, who died three years later, also enjoyed playing, but he often feigned disinterest until the board came out and the questions started, his children recall.
Everything about the Laprade game has special meaning for the family — from the hand-crafted board to the personal and historical questions and the 26 specially made game pieces complete with a photo of each family member. Those pieces and questions are stored in a pair of old cigar boxes in honor of Rusty, who liked to collect the boxes even though he didn’t smoke.
Even the box used to store the game is wrapped with copies of old newspaper articles and photographs that feature members of the Laprade family.
Ronnie Laprade and Peter Brooks, a brother-in-law, created the wooden, rectangular game board over the course of several weekends about a decade ago — though the board still looks new.
The board includes numerous spaces in the shape of a fancy, looped L, which represents the family name. Each space has its own meaningful picture, from Rusty’s signature green truck that he used to make house calls as owner of Rusty’s Repair Service to family landmarks such as a garage, barn, houses of each child and a photo of Rusty and Marie on their wedding day.
The board also includes other features, including a handcrafted nameplate along the bottom, a signature gazebo, and a miniature replica of the family’s old 1932 pickup. All seven children took turns learning how to drive in the truck, which still runs and remains as loud as ever.
“My mother never wanted a muffler on it because she always wanted to know where it was,” Steve Laprade said.
The gazebo is a typical example of Rusty’s handyman ways. He built the structure on the family’s property in 1984 from scratch, and later helped construct a replica in Pulaski Park in Easthampton. He also built a scale model of the gazebo that is now on display at the Easthampton Historical Society.
Like the game board, the gazebo plays a key role in bringing the family together, family members said.
The game board is bordered by a design that resembles a railroad track, another significant symbol for the family given the old train tracks that ran near their home. The tracks were a popular play spot for Ronnie and Michael, another brother.
Winning the game is as simple as answering the correct questions and advancing along the L path to the finish line, though some games never get that far. Family members invariably get side-tracked reminiscing about the past and telling stories.
“It’s not like we play it formally,” Steve said. “A lot of times you’re sitting around and you have teams of aunts, uncles and grandchildren.”
Game questions were generated by all family members and are centered around Rusty and Marie and their seven children, though they are worded specifically for the elders’ grandchildren. A few samples include, “How much did they pay for the house?”($8,000) or “Which aunt was an only child?” or “Who moved during a semi-blizzard?” In some cases, bonus questions are given for follow-up questions.
Some answers require grandchildren to ask questions and remember the answers later, such as, “Who was Waldo?” Ronnie said Waldo was a wild grouse who followed his father around for a whole year after spotting him cutting wood on the family’s property.
“The questions are funny things that have happened over the years,” Louise Labrie said. “There’s also tons of history in here.”
Like many board games sold commercially, there are a few places on the board that players want to avoid. In the Laprade game these are called “junk piles,” in honor of Rusty.
“My father collected junk; he never threw anything away,” said Steve Laprade.
Players who land on a junk pile space have to draw a card from this pile and follow the instructions, which can either be good or bad. “Danger, bees nearby. Go back one step,” or “You watched a sibling’s game and cheered. Go forward one space.”
There’s also a set of “power nap” cards, a trait Rusty and Marie were known for and passed down to their children. Players who get a bonus question right get to take a power nap card that they can use to offset drawing a bad junk pile card.
“They whole family is good at power naps,” said Louise Labrie. “It was kind of a family thing.”
Though the questions and photos on the game pieces are now a decade old — “We’ve change a little since then,” Brooks said — the game doesn’t get old, family members said.
As if on cue during a recent interview, a couple of family members struggled to remember when their father retired from his job as a repairman.
“Oh, it’s probably in here,” Louise Labrie said, pointing at a pile of game questions.
The game has also done its job of educating the next generation, who always perk up at the embarrassing questions when they play.
“That was always a good thing,” said Nick Laprade, 17. “But there’s was a lot of stuff that I really didn’t know.”
Brooks said she has developed many more questions and would like to one day update the game with a second edition.
In the meantime, the game will continue to keep a window open into the family’s past. And that’s exactly what they had hoped for in the first place.