The Origin of Donkey


When the Cleveland Kids were growing up, the long summer days were spent playing outdoor games, the majority of which we made up.  Most of the games were derived from games we’d played the summer before but had either lost or broken the parts to.

Broomball, much like baseball, was played in the street, but after losing the bat one year we substituted the broom, hitting the ball with the straw end.  The object was to hit the ball and run to the Dolahan’s mailbox and back for a home run.  Throwing the baseball at the runner was perfectly within the rules so you had to zigzag your way back to home base if you wanted to arrive with all your body parts intact.

After we broke the last Croquet mallet using it for a hammer to build a fort, we invented a game called “Snook in the Grass.”  This was played by crawling on your belly in the grass, using the large end of a pool cue to hit the Croquet balls through the wickets, which were placed strategically in 6 locations, much like  the pockets on a pool table.  You had to remain where you were in the grass after you hit the ball, then toss the cue to the next player and hope that he didn’t have a bad aim, or a worse attitude.  This game came to an end the summer we used the wooden balls to play Broomball because we’d lost the actual baseball.  The Croquet balls broke apart when they hit the pavement, which was probably a good thing because someone would have suffered permanent damage by taking one in the back.

When the days got short and the weather turned cold, we needed a good indoor game to keep 7 kids age 4 to 15, busy indoors.  Fortunately for us, our mother had an incredible imagination and could make a board game out of a Brussels Sprout and two clothespins.   She was the one who taught us the basics of the game “DONKEY.”  She changed the rules randomly to keep it interesting and to keep us out of her hair while she studied to take her nursing exam.  Before long we were making up our own rules, some of which involved sling shots and BB guns.  Clearly we still needed her guiding wisdom if we were to survive adolescence.

The years flew by in the flick of a Donkey’s tail and the list of “DONKEY” fans grew and grew until people started suggesting that maybe we should share this game with the rest of the world.  “That’s a great idea!” we said, and let another 10 years pass while we waited for a sign that the time was right.

Then one Fall day in 2010, our brother, Cleve (Yes, that’s his real name…Cleve Cleveland.  I believe I’ve already mentioned how creative our mother was and by the time her 4th son was born she didn’t want to miss what might be the last opportunity to use this “Clever” name.  Little did she know that 3 more sons would follow and she could have held onto it a little bit longer)  So there was Cleve, taking a scenic drive in the Nevada desert one Fall day when he sees what he thinks is a herd of wild horses coming across the plain.  He pulls his car over to the side of the road and gets out to take pictures and as they come closer he realizes that they’re not horses at all…he is looking at a herd of WILD DONKEYS!  And before he knows it, he is surrounded by these adorable little beggars who stick their noses inside his car and inside his pockets searching for anything edible, including lint.

“It’s a sign!” he calls out.   But no one can hear him because he doesn’t have enough bars on his phone and the call doesn’t go through.  As soon as he got back into town though, he called my sister and me and said, “It’s time.”  And the rest is history.

We now present to you, the game of “DONKEY” It’s a Kick!

We are the Cleveland Kids;  Dedicated to the design of safe, enjoyable board games and to the rebirth of family game night where laughter and good conversation bridge the gap between generations.