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"We are in the planning stages for our next party."

We have started planning our next and final reunion! We will rent the hall, estimate the groups size, choose our menu for food or apeitizers, provide the music, plan our activities and put it all together for another succesfull 2014 Parker Party.

It will be in May 2014. The exact date will be posted when confirmed with the Rocci Post in Beverly, MA.

Any thoughts and ideas for making this the best party yet? Send them to us. The more ideas, the better the party!

Don't forget to check the photos on our photo gallery page!

Parker Brothers reunion recalls fun with games

Caroline Armstrong used to work for Parker Brothers. So did her father. And her mother. And her sister. And her cousin. And two of her uncles.

“That’s the kind of company it was,” Armstrong said. “We were all like family.”

That sentiment was expressed over and over again Thursday night at a reunion of Parker Brothers employees at the Vittori-Rocci Post. About 100 people showed up for the annual get-together, now in its sixth year.

The Parker Brothers name is known throughout the world as the maker of Monopoly and other classic board games. But on the North Shore, Parker Brothers is regarded more intimately as the employer of generations of people who worked at the factory in Salem and corporate headquarters in Beverly.

At one point, in its heyday in the late ’80s, the company employed as many as 1,000 in the two locations, said Phil Orbanes, a former Parker Brothers executive who wrote a book on the company’s history.

“At Parker Brothers, there was a sense of connection up and down the ranks,” Orbanes said. “The founders of the company regarded all the employees as part of a large family. It became a tradition that passed on from generation to generation.”


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  Caroline & Ron

Caroline Armstrong of Beverly, Mass., hugs former co-worker Ron Pelletier of Salem, Mass., during a Parker Brothers reunion at the Vittori-Rocci Post last night. Armstrong, who was in computer support, and Pelletier, who worked in shipping, haven’t seen each other since the Salem plant closed in 1991.

Connie Knudson hugs former co-worker Donna Berry during a Parker Brothers reunion at the Victorri-Rocci Post. The two, who worked at tha Beverly Parker Brothers office, have not seen each other in two years.
 
 
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The company’s huge factory on Bridge Street in Salem, now the site of the Jefferson at Salem Station condominiums, cranked out some of world’s most famous games. Connie Knudson of Beverly started out as a young woman working “on the line,” sitting at a conveyor belt and deftly grabbing the various game pieces two hands at a time and placing them in boxes.

Knudson said it didn’t take a lot of skill — “Just speed.”

John Tanzella of Beverly ran a printing press inside the factory, literally printing millions of dollars in Monopoly money over his 17 years.

“Thousands and thousands of dollars every night,” he said. “We printed the directions, the game boards, the boxes. It was a real good time. Especially at Christmas time or birthdays, you always thought that you were doing something that was making people happy. You knew people enjoyed the final product and you took pride in it.”

The company moved its corporate headquarters to Dunham Road in Beverly in 1978. Warren Parsons, who came down from Plaistow, N.H., for last night’s reunion, worked there for 10 years as the supervisor of maintenance.

“I played Santa Claus at all the Christmas parties,” said Parsons, now 80. “I was a steelworker for 30 years and a cop in Danvers for 10 years, and Parker Brothers was the best job I ever had. It was like family. That’s why you’ll find a lot of these guys still associating with each other after all these years.”

When asked to explain the company’s family atmosphere, former executive Frank Ventura had a simple explanation.

“We’ve played with toys,” he said. “It was fun.”

Parker Brothers was eventually taken over by a succession of companies, from General Mills to Tonka to Hasbro. The family atmosphere began to wane. In 1983, the grandson of founder George Parker quit in protest of General Mills’ management practices, Orbanes said.

Hasbro took over in 1991 and shifted most of the manufacturing to East Longmeadow. The Salem factory stayed open for three more years, making mostly Nerf footballs, until it was torn down in 1994.

By that time, 23 years after she started on the conveyor belt, Knudson had worked her way up to production manager.

“I stayed until the day we shut the doors,” she said. “It was a great place. It was the people who made Parker Brothers.”

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