Thursday, June 30, 2016


I’d hoped to visit my dear darling cousin Maggie in Alabama in a couple of weeks, but plans have changed, and perhaps later.   In her e-mail today, she mentioned a visit from her sister, and how much fun they had:

Sis and I went to church tonight for Bingo and Barbecue.  A hooting, hollering night with all those folks shouting out BINGO and so excited about winning those little prizes.  I don’t believe I’ve played bingo since I was a child.

And my astonished reply:

I'm finding it hard to reconcile the sweet, spiritual vision of you and your church---My Country Baptist heart has lifelong envied Catholics and Episcopalians the ritualistic CALM, the recitations, the prayers said in unison, and above all, the QUIET reflective hands-clasped demurely head-bowedness of it.   Many times in letters, when you've just had to share the wonder of your morning in church, you've portrayed the sweet simplicity of the hallowed words from my childhood---"missal," and "Prayerbook" and how I longed to live where there was Eucharist and Liturgy.   And now YOU, Silly Girl, have Hooted AND Hollered at church.   Hear the obnoxious PTTTTTTTHHHHHKTTTTT of my punctured balloon escaping and flying rudely around the ceiling??

Ha.   Barbecue and Bingo.   That's my style of evening.   I love a good Bingo game, but not the money ones, at least not the money ones that are a BUSINESS.   Not the ones with snorty mean-lady regulars who KNOW you don't belong, and don't mind telling you so, or who razz winners like a buncha fraternity jerks on a new pledge.  AND NOT the smoky yelling frenetic ones with forty cards in front of you all ink-dobbed like a Pollock placemat.  

Just the little hometown, church or school or Ladies' Auxiliary ones with little prizes like doilies and a carwash and a dozen lily bulbs from Mrs. Pund's prize collection.   And especially if a school class is raising money for a new flagpole or a trip to a historic place---and YESSS if they've gone around town taking their bashful selves into store after store where they've shopped all their lives, receiving small tokens from the merchants like flashlights and coin purses and a set of those glasses that didn't sell.   Those are the ones I remember, where maybe the Choir director with the nice voice is the caller, and the numbers are drawn by gloving a hand into a discreet velvet bag and pulling out a wooden disc.  I just love those.

I remember once when Mayor VanDeventer was doing the calling, and somehow he fumbled the little disc and dropped it, with Miss Early, the Home-Ec teacher trying vainly to step on it and stop its headlong  roll.   She got two little wobbly stomps at it, and kicked it  smack-dab into the furnace grate, so we HAD TO WAIT to get the thing out.   I mean, it was IMPORTANT.   Not just to whoever mighta been cheated outa a good yell if they just drew another number, but somehow the whole heart would go out of the game, knowing that maybe 0-74 was down there in the chalk-dust and you needing it to win that lamp.

I remember the ones at our High School---it was always at Halloween Carnival, and all the parents skipped over Haunted House and Duck Pond and Curtain-with-Fishpole-Prizes, and went straight to the cafeteria, impatient for the calling to start.   Many an impatient beehind has polished those stainless steel stools to a high gloss before the evening was over.   I won a Sunbeam iron once, and once a string of pearls, and another time the Grand Prize:  the most gosh-awful LAMP---if there were a prize for unfortunate design, it was right up there with that Leg Lamp in the movie. 

 Image result for Leg lamp

   The stand part was pretty, a nice fifties turquoise, and at that time, I thought it simply the height of attractive DAYCOR, with its shade made of matching turquoise metal strips, each like the slat of a Venetian blind had been folded into squares of successive sizes, like an odd little Pagoda floating at the top.  It was clattery and weird, and I know it would violate the taste-strings of everybody whose taste ain’t all in their mouth,  but I kept it in my bedroom for YEARS, and wish I knew what happened to it.
 The shade but not the phone.
We DID go to a church bingo night once years ago, and Chris and I won the fifty/fifty---six hundred and something dollars!! 

Does anyone have just a little plain old hometown Bingo anymore?  


donna baker said...

I don't gamble as I'm too cheap, but the Indian casinos rake it all in these days. The parking lots are always full and I'm sure they even have bingo. That or the little ticket stub things for lotteries. I think that's where all the money goes these days Rachel.

steelersandstartrek said...

(Donna, there really is a bingo type game in those casinos. They call in Keno. Like all casino games, it is a sucker game - it sucks the money out of pockets.)

Dear Rachel, such a wonderful wistful remembery you have here. Bingo for us was a family vacation activity when it rained. Mom would get out the paper play sheets and hand us each a pencil. We'd play just for the thrill of shouting BINGO. Dad was always glum about it, but it kept us kids from bouncing off the tent walls (and you never want to touch a tent wall in the rain.)

In my teen years, my mom loosened up a bit about my churching. It was okay for me to visit other churches, as long as I ALSO attended the Catholic with her. (This yielded many Sundays when I hustled from 9 AM mass to get to Hatcher Memorial Baptist at 11 AM with my high school friends.) So when one friend's Episcopal church had Wednesday Bingo, it was nothing for me to go up with his family. But it was one of those money games you despise, albeit small-time $10-$25 prizes, with the surplus gong to the organ fund. I know I never won anything, and I do not recall my friend's family faring well either. So somewhere on that nice organ they have, we are responsible for a note or two!

Miss Merry said...

Some of my best friends have retired in the past few years. They have taken me along for lunch and bingo at our local senior center and it is a riot! I do have have pay FULL price for lunch since I am not 6o yet - $4.50. It is 25 cents extra for coffee instead of milk. And bingo is 25 cents a sheet (they use the paper sheets not the cards). Dabbers are provided. The numbers are first SUNG by the sweetest lady and then repeated many times. We play very leisurely. And the prizes are wonderful. Dish soap or maybe a roll of paper towels or a bottle of shampoo. I have taken to "donating" some prizes on my way in to the game to help out. I did win once, I can't remember my prize, but I was able to pass it along to someone else at the tables on my way out. I really, really enjoy going.

I used to help when our school was running a bingo, which at the time was a terrific fundraiser. I felt like I was in a parallel universe. I could not believe the money being spent, not only on bingo, but on instant tickets. And the people - so rude and inconsiderate. It was so hard to keep a smile on your face with the meanness and pettiness Although if I were wasting that much money, I guess I would be cranky, too.

NanaDiana said...

What wonderful 'stories' within your blog today. Love it...from the bingo to the Halloween at school story.
No- the only Bingo here are at the big casinos run by Native Americans. That is a big thing here...but I have never been.
Happy 4th to you- xo Diana

Jeanne said...

Hello Rachel, Don't faint.. here I am visiting and loving your Bingo story. A great read as always and lots of chuckles. Winning the fifty/fifty was awesome and a lot of money. A nice memory to remember.

Since we arrived home from vacation two weeks ago we have had our normal crazy hectic lives with company this past week that left today, a horrible bout of poison ivy and tomorrow one of our daughters will be here for a week with her hubby. It is all good. The bad news was a huge problem with the internet which lasted almost a week. It was finally fixed two days ago. Oh happy day.

Have a wonderful 4th of July with your darling Sweet Pea and loved ones all around you.
I have missed you,
Love, Jeanne

Chronica Domus said...

Well, I so enjoyed your bingo night and memories of bingos past. I remember when I first landed in California, some twenty-five years ago, fresh from the shores of the UK, and I met my future husband's uncle and aunt. The aunt immediately thought it would be a hoot and a bonding experience if she took me to a bingo night, something I'd never experienced. It was an alien world for me but I thoroughly enjoyed it, and it sounds as though it was in the same vein as your little bingo evenings that you so enjoy.

Thanks for the memories, and thanks for the photo of that retro turquoise lamp - I've never seen anything quite like it!

Jeanne said...

Dearest Rachel, I just spent the evening reading your posts I have missed. I have been so lax at visiting my friends and I feel guilty and sad. I have spells of just not picking up my computer. My sister Carmen who lives in our cabin on our property is ill with renal failure and is soon to be on dialysis. I spend much of my time with her each day. This is my sister whose husband died 1 1/2 years ago. She is doing well mentally thank goodness.

Your summer posts are a great read. We are growing tomatoes this year in containers and they have just begun to ripen. So good. I also bought my first watermelon on the 4th of July. Summer fun and our weather has not been very hot.

Your journal of your trip to Ireland/Scotland was so interesting. Especially your experience with Stonehenge. My what a crowd. I would love to go there one day. Now with so much unrest, I hesitate to fly anymore.

I hope all is well with you and your sweet family. I think of Sweetpea and how grown up she must be now. Two of our daughters were here last week and we made a ton of fruit preserves. I will post about it on Saturday. A wonderful week with dear friends the week before our family was here has kept me very busy.

Wishing you many days of a wonderful summer.
Love, Jeanne

handmade by amalia said...

I love the vintage graphics of the bingo board.

Kim S. said...

I LOVE Bingo, but haven't played since I was a little kid. The old fashioned hotel that we stayed at in Virginia Beach had bingo in the cavernous dining room on rainy days. Wish my Episcopal church would do bingo nights!