Monday, May 18, 2009

Edward's Briefcase

Edward's Desk

My grandfather, Edward Pickering Parker, president of Parker Brothers.

And here's his desk! And much of what you'll see here has been sitting in this desk for at least 35 years.

This is not a history of Parker Brothers per se. (If you want a history, read "The Game Makers" by Philip E. Orbanes; it could hardly be improved upon.) This will be more of an eccentric family scrapbook.

EPP kept childhood photographs and a few newspaper clippings in this box. It includes:

Pictures of pigs, horses, and goats, presumably from his father's farm.

Some identifiable people. More unidentifiable people. That's my grandfather in the middle of the mystery mob, gnawing on something.

His 1939 Chevy. &c.

Natalie Stevens Parker

My grandmother, Natalie Stevens Parker.

The Parker Brothers

George Swinnerton, Charles Hanford, and Edward Hegeman: The Parker Brothers. Yes, they're real people. They're not like Bartles and Jaymes or something.

As far as I know, this is the only photo of all three. Why didn't they sit for a studio portrait?

Edward is my great-great-grandfather.

The Brothers

George, Charles, and Edward, circa 1878. George would start publishing his own games at age sixteen, and eventually rope in his older brothers.

What were they up to around this time? Here's part of an 1879 letter from Edward. He's planning his wedding. Georgie went up to Lexington and is "having a beautiful time." "Charlie had an encounter with those irish fellows in one of the low streets near the old (?) depot Saturday. He received two heavy blows in the face but think that he handled his fists to advantage..."

For more information on GSP, note his entry in the slightly shady leatherbound vanity publication, "Encyclopedia of American Biography."


More original brothers? That looks like George S. in the cap, second from the right. Who is that on the right, hiding under his hat? Is that EPP, crying and clutching a derby? Who are all these other people? Why are they so depressed? Is that a dog at the bottom?

I wish EPP had labeled more of his photos.

Cousin Sadie

Edward Hegeman Parker writes to his cousin Sadie in Queens. It's later in 1879, and he's describing his honeymoon with Laura! What are they doing? Playing cards. And "having a very nice time." Well, maybe there's a future in games.


And here she is! Laura Foster. Headed for a date with destiny, Edward Hegeman Parker, and his playing cards.

Looks like the board games kept Laura in mink, seal, otter, and squirrel.

Ellen and Elisha

This might be a good time to introduce EHP's new mother-in-law, Ellen Foster.

Ellen's grandfather, Lieut. Elisha Foster, fought in the Revolution. His company "marched to Bristol, R. I. Dec. 10, 1776, on an alarm." I don't know if anything in particular happened when they got there.

Here's Laura and Edward Hegeman in later years.

Bradstreet and Richard

In 1918, George Swinnerton Parker's oldest son, Bradstreet, enlisted as a naval air cadet, and promptly died of pneumonia, at the age of 21.

George groomed his second son, Richard, to take over Parker Brothers. But tragedy strikes again! Richard was killed in the first airplane crash at Le Bourget airport in Paris. He was 21.

I'm not sure why my grandfather was keeping the recipe for jellied chicken buffet salad. It doesn't sound like something he would have enjoyed.

George Swinnerton Parker, Poet

In 1944, at the age of 78, George S. Parker self-published a book of poetry.

Random Verse

This copy is inscribed to his nephew, Foster.



Down the long corridors of time
Man has not traveled far,
Behind - the straggling centuries -
Ahead the aeons are!
Man yet may sound his deepest depth,
Or touch his nearest star.

George died in 1952, at the age of 86.


Foster Hegeman Parker. Parker Brothers treasurer. He's the SON of EHP and the FATHER of EPP. Got that?

An appealing picture of Foster's wife, Anna.

Foster among the Harvard Men. Bottom, second from right. They knew how to dress up a Harvard Man in those days.

Miss Anna Merrill Pickering United in Marriage to Foster H. Parker in "Pretty Ceremony." Clipping pasted in EPP's baby book.

EPP Enters

Edward Pickering Parker's birth, on November 4, 1912, as heralded in "The New Baby's Biography," pictures by Ruth Mary Hallock.

A safety pin! "Nov 15 swallowed" "Passed Nov 18. in 2 pieces"

Other news: "Fall 1916. Fell out of moving automobile. Bruised but not seriously hurt."

EPP. This must be the farmhouse.

EPP with his sister, Barbara.


Barbara W. Parker with her hat and her gun.

EPP at the 25 cent picture stand.

Wartime Foster

Foster blames FDR, but supports the war effort.

The Kamikaze Anecdote

A kamikaze pilot with an American education surrendered to EPP, commenting, "None of this kamikaze shit for me." Can this story be true?

Daughters Diane and Anne, with matching dresses and squirrels. (Why do squirrels keep popping up?)

Diane, with artistic mucilage border

The Age of Nerf

EPP at his desk, with Nerf basketball.

EPP answers his fan mail.


Oh, I have boxes of papers, back to 1694.

Hannah Browne's husband, Captain William Pickering, was known for his successful expedition to Newfoundland to protect the fishermen from the depredations of the French and Indians.

This 1706 letter from Hannah to William records the death of their young son.

William back to Hannah, 1720. "I Recvd yours By Captn Watson with the Sheep & Buter & Turnips. We have turnips anuff hear but I thank you for your kindness."

Soon William will have more to worry about than a superfluity of turnips.

William never arrives back in Salem, Newengland. Where is he?

1726. "about eight years past my Loving Husband William Pickering Departing From Canada in the (?) of the year in Order To Come home to Salem, But Never yet arrived To New England The First News ever I had Concerning him was brought To me by one William from Captain (?) a French man Was this that he Redeemed Capt Pickering From the Indians and that he was Coming home..."

"Mr. Robert williams Informed on July 9th: 1726 that he Mett with a French Gentleman of Canada at Lewisburg who told him that Bought Captn william Pickering of Salem out of the hands of the Indians this Last Spring and discribed him by his Statture bulk and Countanance and by what he lost and that he lost about 5 years ago and the Gentilman also said he wold give the Bill Captn Pickering gave him to pay him his Redemtion monny to Mr Robert Williames to bring it to Newengland but through accedent omitted it --

It is theirfore thought that if the Eastern Indians be inquired of whethar thay have Ever heard of Said Pickering his being among any of the Indians possobly some account of him may be had Especially if the Indians be told that Captn Pickering is comeing home by way of Albany which the french gentelman told Mr Robert williams"

Let's get this straight. William Pickering never comes home. Robert Williams shows up years later and says, "He was captured by Indians, and a French gentleman paid a ransom to free him, but lost the receipt. Oops." Presumably the French gentleman would like to be repaid, even though William never quite made it home. Is Robert Williams running a con on Hannah? Does the French gentleman even exist? Was William even captured by Indians in the first place?

I wish I knew how this story ended. I have no more letters.

The Salem Union Street Corporation was chartered by William Balch Parker (grandfather of the Brothers) in 1808, and seems to have kept the family busy for much of the 19th century. Here's the business records! The blue sheets on the right are blank stock certificates, so let me know if you want to invest.

The corporation put up the Union Building, also known as the Brown Building, in 1808, on land previously owned by Hannah Pickering, of missing husband fame (I have deeds. Everything's connected in the webwork world of old Salem.). In 1810 they rented an apartment to the Peabody family, including one year old Sophia Peabody, who would go on to marry Nathaniel Hawthorne.

Hawthorne lived one street over, and Sophia remembered watching him play in the back yard. I need to go through these documents carefully for Peabody references.

Sophia and her sisters were quite active in the arts, education, Unitarianism, Transcendentalism, Women's suffrage, &c.

Got your Edward Parkers straight? Good, because I have a third one up my sleeve. Edward Hegeman Parker was presumably named for his short lived uncle, Edward Parker, who died in 1838 at the age of 21. Here's his 1829 penmanship book!

Good luck getting your twelve year old to write like this.

The book includes poems by Oliver Goldsmith, Mrs. Elizabeth Carder, Anna Laetitia Barbauld, and William Cowper.

Edward must have been a good math student, as well. At age fourteen, he starts keeping an account book for his father's bark, the Brazil. Here they are picking up supplies in Port au Prince in 1835. He has three years to live.

It's hitting me right now: I'm the fourth in a line of Edwards, going directly back to this poor kid.