Bingo Was My Mother’s Favorite Game
OK, please allow me one more post about my mother, as I am thinking of her a lot this morning.
My bipolar mother is currently 77 and dying of liver cancer in the nursing home where she has spent the past decade. She has full on dementia, doesn’t recognize me and barely recognizes my father, and cannot walk or stand.
When she was younger, mom always wanted a life of thrills and excitement on a level that could not be matched by my lovely dad, a talented optician who built a decent life for us in Queens. So mom would gamble. And since there was no casino gambling around NY and NJ back in the day, she would buy lottery tickets and go to Bingo. In NYC she would go to these huge Bingo Halls, and when we moved upstate to Vestal, NY she would go to the American Legion or the Volunteer Fire Departments, who were always looking to raise money.
And when I was around 15 she took me with her.
I remember the cigarette smoke and the food. Seriously, people would cook and bake for these bingo events – homemade donuts, cakes, cookies, pizza, pasta, breads, and coffee. Dinner at the Bingo hall was always an exciting time for us! And then there was the gear (the “Bingo Bag”). In the hall we would buy two sets of cards – the big thick reusable Bingo cards and then the five part paper “specials”. For the cards we needed to buy these clear plastic chips to cover the numbers, and for the specials we had the felt-topped, ink-filled bingo markers.
I won several times and remember the excitement of raising my hand and calling, “BINGO!”
We should all be glad that my mother was not able to witness or access fun sites like Cheekybingo, where you can play all you want in the comfort of your home (or anywhere you have internet access, for that matter). There is music, great graphics, sound effects, and a community of like-minded people. Plus, you can play for free, so there is potential to win big while losing very little or nothing. But I know mt mom wouldn’t have played for free – not exciting enough!