All in the game

Who owns this town? Back in the early 1980s, it could have been you, if you won The Game Of Mt. Lebanon, a Monopoly-based board game with a local spin.

Those of us old enough to remember streetcars on Washington Road may also recall other relics of Mt. Lebanon’s business district. Do you recall the small bookshop called The Bookmark? How about the Strut ‘n Stroll dress shop? Perkins General Store on Beverly Road? Remember when Rollier’s was on McFarland?

These businesses and many more are documented in the Game of Mt. Lebanon, a Monopoly-like game that came out in 1983. Produced by the long-gone Michael Glenn Productions of Allen Park, Michigan, as a “local business investment board game,” it was a fundraising effort. Squares of the game were filled with the names of businesses that bought promotional space.

The game is long out of print, of course, but some local residents retain their originals, now nearly 40 years old. According to Robyn Vittek, Mt. Lebanon Public Library Director, The Game of Mt. Lebanon occasionally appears among donations to the Book Cellar bookstore on the library’s lower level. Thanks go to Albert Vanzin, of Washington Road, for lending this writer his game, perfectly preserved in its original box.

Although the Game of Mt. Lebanon followed the format of Monopoly, in place of Marvin Gardens and Pennsylvania Avenue, you’d find, for instance, Ann Vogel, A Boutique (642 Washington) and Fred Abbott Gulf Service (Cochran at Cedar). Trilli & Dunbar Co., Realtors (729 Washington) and AM-PM Mini Market (339 Cochran) replaced Broadway and Park Place. Standing in for St. James Place and New York Avenue, was the Yarn Shoppe (250 Mt. Lebanon Boulevard) and Terry McVerry, state Rep., 42nd District (634 Washington). Other local businesses in the property squares were Mt. Lebanon Pharmacy (727 Washington), Sargent Electric, Walker Auto Plaza, Thrift Drug, and David Gosnell, D.M.D. (615 Washington).

Interspersed among these brick-and-mortar businesses on the board were a number of associations, such as Mt. Lebanon Education Association, Mt. Lebanon Parking Authority, Mt. Lebanon Schools Foundation, and Mt. Lebanon Volunteer Fire Company. Also represented were Pittsburgh National Bank and O’Brien and Garry, of WHTX 95FM (“Best FM Morning Showmen.”)

The game was actually called Wheeler-Dealer, presumably to head off lawsuits from Parker Brothers and to allow it to be customized to any town. It came with a long set of instructions, several sets of cards, play money, and six plastic play pieces.

The middle of the game board announces that this edition was sponsored by the Drug Intervention Network and the Parent Teachers Association. Fighting drug use seemed to be something of a theme in 1983, as there were also promotions by the Drug Connection Hotline, Outreach South, and Marty Murray (673 Washington), who offers “Help for Alcohol/Drug Problems.” In addition, printed on the cover of the box is the helpful reminder: A Healthy Body—Is Drug Free.