By Janie Southard
NEW BREMEN -- It's the only game in town right now and players often find themselves thrashing around in Rabe's Pond before it's over.
"The Canal Game" is one of a pair of fund-raisers the New Bremen Historic Association has released recently.
Always searching for funding for the renovation of Lock One in downtown New Bremen, historic association member Delores Stienecker and several others began assembling photos for the book "A Journey Through Time, New Bremen's Canal History" about two years ago. The game was an unexpected but welcome afterthought, a brainchild of Gen Conradi.
"We'd get together to work on the new book at Gen's and one day she asked if we wanted to play a game. I thought "Scrabble" and figured why not," Stienecker recalled Monday evening at Conradi's kitchen table in New Bremen.
The game prototype, sketched out on sheets of white paper taped together, was colored in with highlighters. Conradi had developed the game and drew the original in less than two hours. "After working on the book, I began to think of ways to make our local history more appealing to children. I guess I was thinking of my own grandchildren. The idea for this game just came to me one day, and I sat down and drew it," said Conradi, a psychiatric nurse specialist at the Behavioral Health Unit at Wilson Hospital in Sidney.
By the time Stienecker, Conradi, her husband Dennis Dicke and others had spent many winter hours drinking coffee and playing the game, her idea was on the drawing board of another New Bremen resident, Kelli Muether.
"Kelli did a wonderful job for us designing the board, the cards and the little game pieces. Plus the background is old New Bremen photographs. Of course, the stops on the game board all relate to Bremen's history," said Stienecker, a retired nurse from Upper Valley Medical Center in the Troy/Piqua area.
It was a friend from the medical center (Wanda Gerzina of Piqua) who made the muslin game bags that look like the old flour or sugar sacks that would have contained such supplies for drop off at various stops along the canal.
The game cards contain bits and chuckles of New Bremen history such as: "Boats collide, assess damage. Lose a turn," or "Laut's Hotel has free beer. Advance two spaces," or "Laut's has sauerkraut for supper. Advance one space."
The game really is fun for children and adults, according to Stienecker, who was raised in Frogtown near Rabe's Pond, and Conradi, who grew up in Cheese Quarters, near the White Mountain Creamery.
On Friday, the historic association donated several games to the New Bremen library as well as one of the new Miami & Erie Canal books.
The books at $22 each and games at $15 are available in New Bremen at the historic association's museum, The Crown Store, the Southwest Auglaize County Chamber of Commerce office, the Artist's Touch, the New Bremen Coffe Co. & Books, or by contacting Stienecker at 419-629-2685.