I grew up in Tonawanda, NY, the oldest of nine children, in a good Catholic family. (That’s code for no birth control)
Like most other mothers at that time, my mom stayed home with the kids while my Dad worked at Hooker Chemical on Grand Island as a research chemist.
My mother did get out of the house occasionally. She joined the women’s group at St. Amelia’s for a while. But what she really liked to do on Friday nights back in the 50’s and 60’s was go to Bingo at St. Amelia’s!
It was held in the auditorium, if I remember correctly. Everyone smoked back then, even Father Kelly and Father Ochs.
The cafeteria turned bingo hall slowly filled with a blue haze of cigarette smoke, but I don’t ever remember being affected by it.
Before the games started, there was a tremendous hum of conversation throughout out the hall. Bingo appealed to everyone, housewives, senior citizens, teenagers, and little kids. The buzz of anticipation grew when the bingo caller got up to pick the first number.
Immediately the buzz died down, and a nervous quiet prevailed. People marked off the numbers on the bingo cards, murmuring to themselves.
The tension built as no one called bingo and more numbers came out.
A ripple goes through the room but bingo isn’t called.
A disappointed groan goes up from the crowd. Conversations resume as one of the workers runs over and calls out the winning numbers. “Bingo is confirmed,” he yells.
Then it starts all over again.
Some people were bingo experts. They would have anywhere from fifteen to twenty boards in front of them.
I was with my sister Linda the last time I played.
To say she is an avid player is an understatement. Rabid is a better term.
She had at least triple rows of bingo cards, plus all the specials. She came prepared with cokes and candy bars to keep our energy up. And she had an envious collection of markers, one of which she graciously allowed me to use.
Soon the numbers flew fast and furious. I could barely keep up. I had too many cards and specials.
“B 10” hollered the caller.
Before I could even react, Linda yelled, “You got it!” Faster than a laser beam, she lurched across the table and stamped my card before I could even lift my marker.
Yes, bingo players are zealots, for sure.
Here is one of the funniest videos I have ever seen. I don’t usually watch “Impractical Jokers,” but I happened to see this episode when I visited my daughter and her husband. (Admin, please remove if not allowed.)
Watch one lone man receive the fury of zealous and rabid players right HERE.
Anyone who has ever played bingo will understand.
Interesting stuff about the history of bingo HERE.