Trivial Pursuits: Bob Dylan’s Favorite Monopoly Piece

Ed Newman
5 min readFeb 23, 2019

Disclaimer: There is nothing profound to be revealed here. Just a few more tidbits of Dylan trivia.

Scottie Dog. Photo by the author, who is also a Scotsman.

When I was a kid growing up in New Jersey we went through a Monopoly phase. It may have been just after the slot car racing phase, the ping pong phase or the billiards phase. You know how it is when you’re a kid. You get amped and focused.

I remember one game in Tom Browne’s basement that lasted a full week, which we funded by adding cash from my own family’s Monopoly loot. Late Friday evening we finally called it a draw.

Monopoly is one of those ubiquitous games that seems embedded in our collective unconscious. The various elements of the game are fairly common knowledge: Chance and Community Chest cards, title deeds for the various properties, green houses and red hotels, and money.

And then, there are the tokens, or playing pieces, each as much a part of the game as everything else.

Photo by the author, who liked the Top Hat and Old Boot.

Parker Brothers purchased the rights to Monopoly in 1934 and produced the game from 1935 to 1990, when it was sold to Hasbro. From 1943 on you could choose as your playing piece a Battleship, Boot, Cannon, Horse and Rider, Iron, Race Car, Scottie Dog, Thimble, Top Hat, or Wheelbarrow.

What this means is that the same game pieces kids used in the 80s were being used in the 40s and 50s. And the same game pieces we used in the 60’s were the same that Bob Dylan used when he came down from Hibbing to visit his friend Louis Kemp out on London Road in East Duluth.

Two Degrees of Separation

What makes Duluth interesting to some extent is how “small town” it is. You’re no doubt familiar with the concept of Six Degrees of Separation in which every person in the world is just six steps removed from everyone else in the world. Well, I am beginning to think that here in Duluth everyone you meet is just two steps removed from someone with a first-hand Bob Dylan story.

From my own experience here many stories can be retrieved in an instant, but this is a new one. Last weekend a…

Ed Newman

An avid reader who writes about arts, culture, literature & other life obsessions. @ennyman3 Look for my books on Amazon