License Plate Game

Edith Makes Jewelry. (EMJ)

Wesley Kills Armadillos. (WKA)


My grandfather introduced me to this game when I was a child, living in my very small world, in a small South Texas town. 


You had to create a sentence for the alpha characters of every license plate you saw.


Back in those days, the license plate format was very standardized—at least in my little world.  In Texas you could count on three alpha followed by three numeric characters on every plate.  I don’t know what people in California did because their plates were complete chaos.  As I said, in Texas it was very standardized AND there were license plates on both the front AND back of the vehicle so you could play the game coming and going.  (Naming the states never caught on with us because, frankly, no one from out of state ever came to my hometown.  😉 )


This was a great road trip game (not that my family took many road trips).  About once each year we went to San Antonio to visit my dad’s sister; you could kill a lot of miles playing this game while hunched over the bench seat.  It also took your mind off the fact that you were suffering from heat stroke in the un-airconditioned car! (Hot vinyl seats and four kids in the back seat!)


One time my dad got a new work car and when he put the plates on, they read PCB 364.  Back then you showed off a new car by making a Sunday afternoon drive to friends and family.  When we reached my grandparents’ house, my grandfather took one look at the car and announced “Please Catch Bill” in a nod to my dad’s name.  My brother and I had already anticipated this moment and quickly countered with “Pauline Can Bake” paying homage to our mother!  My grandfather never went for it and several  years later he was still insisting on HIS phrase.


Alas, this game never caught on with my own children while we made countless trips between Texas and South Carolina.  Perhaps it was the license plate variations between all the states that made it less appealing.  (Alabama was as messed up as California on their plate format.) Or maybe it was the more entertaining games we created for them as we drove.  One was to spell a word and the next person had to choose a word that began with the last letter of the word just spelled.  This put a young speller at a disadvantage. 


Maybe that’s why the more popular game was the roadkill game.  In alphabetical order, you took turns naming animals that could be victims of roadkill.   And we didn’t have the ability to do internet searches then so it could become a true challenge.


Armadillo, Bear, Cottontail……


1 comment

  • Love this! Break for Bill and Pauline can bake. Good ones!
    No one from out of state came to our hometown! Lol! So true!

    Rosie Floyd

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