The Monopolization of Monopoly
Ruth Hoskins

by Burton H. Wolfe
©1976 The San Francisco Bay Guardian

Understand that for the last 40 years Parker Brothers has been generating worldwide publicity about Darrow's inventing Monopoly and selling the patent to Parker, and this story has been disseminated by scores of magazines and newspapers, including some of the most widely read and respected in America. And then there's that plaque in Atlantic City.

So, let's once and for all get in some of the names of the people really and truly responsible for Monopoly.

In 1929 Ruth Hoskins began playing Monopoly in Indianapolis with her brother James and his friend Robert Frost "Pete" Daggett Jr., who was a friend of Dan Layman. In October of that year Ruth Hoskins began teaching at the Friends School in Atlantic City, where she taught Monopoly to other teachers, students, and Quaker acquaintances. Layman's manufactured game, Finance, was not yet on the market and it did not become widely available on the East Coast until Parker Brothers bought and revised it to make it a different game years later. So, the Friends made their own Monopoly boards and thrashed out rules changes in arguments lasting until past midnight.

"We then introduced it to others," Ruth Hoskins testified in her pretrial deposition. "To the Harveys [Cyril and his wife Dorothy], who introduced it to the Raifords [Eugene and his wife Ruth, Jesse and his wife Dorothea] ... Everybody made their own [board] ... We asked everybody we knew that could to come play it, because it was such fun."

Since Hoskins' entire circle of friends consisted mainly of scrupulously moral Quakers, whenever the subject of commercializing the game arose, it was rejected.

"We weren't business people," Hoskins explained. "We were school teachers. It was a good game the way it was."

Since the game was being played in Atlantic City, it no longer made any sense to have properties named after places in Indianapolis or parts of Pennsylvania.

The discussion came up that the names were for the most part unknown to us ... Why not use Atlantic City names? ... We named them out in honor of people who belonged to our group. For instance, well, Boardwalk was first. Everybody knows that, Boardwalk. But the Joneses were living on Park Place and the Claridge was being built across the street and the Marlborough Blenheim was right there. That was obviously a very expensive part of the town and one that we wanted to honor.

"We were living on Pennsylvania Avenue ... The Copes lived on Virginia Avenue at the Morton Hotel ... So it developed gradually.

"... I know that there were the utilities and I know that the four railroads were there ... We had 'Free Parking' and we had 'Go to Jail' and we had tickets to get out of jail and you got $200 as you passed 'Go'."

[Ralph Anspach's lawyers are taking witnesses such as Ruth Hoskins through tremendous detail in this history because Parker Brothers' last defense is that Charles Darrow put the Atlantic City streets on the board and therefore his game is different from other versions of Monopoly. Darrow's widow has repeated that statement under oath and newspapers and magazines from coast to coast, along with Maxine Brady in her definitive Monopoly Book, have also repeated it.)

Hoskins also suggested Connecticut, Vermont and Oriental Avenues. "All these I made up and then we discussed it with the group."

Other members of the group added New York Ave., Community Chest and Marven Gardens "because although it wasn't a street, there was somebody living there".