Several months ago I wrote about a weekly Bingo session where things occasionally get out of hand. There are myriad problems at that venue. First, the games are played in a restaurant and adjacent bar where there is the usual kind of noise you would expect in that situation. Secondly, the PA system is inadequate. Third, on many nights people in the bar are allowed to play; but, the caller can’t hear anyone who yells “BINGO” from that room. The possible winner has to come to the adjacent room where the caller is. By that time, the caller has usually gone on to the next number. Additionally, the hotel where the games take place often has very few prizes to give. If there’s more than one winner, a play-off is necessary. Add to this the fact that alcohol is being served in both rooms. What you have here is a recipe for disaster.
We tend to think of Bingo as a fun, informal kind of game. That is true. But, in order to remain fun and informal, the game has to be organized and fair for everyone. If you let things get out of hand, it’s not fair to anyone. I am glad that I am not the caller in the hotel/bar situation I mentioned earlier. I think calling Bingo in that venue would be like trying to call Bingo and maintain order in a busy bus station.
I mention this because I used to think that the kind of regimentation I would sometimes see at professional halls in Vegas and Reno and Atlantic City was a little too much and stuffy. Now, I feel differently. But, there is a fine line between maintaining order and being too regimented. As much as I truly enjoyed the countless thousands of hours of Bingo I played while living in Las Vegas or traveling to big Bingo venues, my best times have been at the small halls where neighbors and friends play—the VFWs and the Elks and American Legions and K of C’s charity halls.
Remember a year or so ago when I played Bingo back in my hometown in southern Indiana? I sat in the same cafeteria where I had played back in the mid-1950s. Bingo was part of how we paid for the new school. Everything was perfect. I wish every person reading this could go to that little town in Indiana and experience that easygoing kind of game.
So, what can we do to bring fun back to the old game? It’s no wonder so few people scream when they win. It’s almost as if WE are there, but the GAME isn’t there anymore. Next time: Letters to bobonbingo.
Drop me a line on the Internet: firstname.lastname@example.org. And, if you don’t have e-mail, a friend says you can use his physical address: DD, Box 5441, Palm Springs, CA, 92263.
I am an elderly senior. Just so you know, we elderly seniors are the ones who, thirty years ago, rushed around getting those senior discount cards the minute we turned fifty-five. They made our wallets too bulky, aggravated the people in line at the grocery store and if we tried to use that AARP card at motels they always said they had already discounted our fees. Before long we had it all figured out. Discount cards were more merit badges than money savers, but we’re okay with that.
We elderly seniors looked forward to getting up and lounging around in our robes till noon instead of going to work. Well, that was nice for a while, but it got boring. We missed our co-workers. When we called them they were at work or getting ready for work, or just got home from work. We see them every night at Bingo. So we are okay with that.
A number of things about retirement turned out not to be the Utopia we were all looking forward to. I know, I just dangled a preposition. When you are an elderly senior it’s perfectly ok to do that. What we are NOT okay with is that the younger generation has tried to change the meaning of some of our words. And we want it stopped. Here are a few examples:
TWEET: a sound a bird makes. RETWEET: means the bird made the sound again.
THE RIGHT: the hand I use for daubing at Bingo.
THE LEFT: the hand Marge uses for daubing at Bingo.
UBER: a little kid’s word, as in ”Uber stop throwing sand or you have to go home;” or German for super.
JAW DROPPING: A yawn; a sure sign of boredom.
EXTREME VETTING : Sounds intelligent, but no one knows what it means.
FAKE NEWS: Wild tales told in jest; or lies preceded by, “I heard…”
If you want to be an elderly senior someday (much better than the alternative) you will have to learn the language all over again.
Contact Bev at email@example.com.
Dear Aunt Bingo:
My Mom and her sister (my aunt) have lived together for a long time and are now getting up in years. With their aging they have gotten less active and stay closer to home more. This leaves my family struggling to find activities that will interest them, keep them active and engaged, but will not be overly taxing.
When the weather is good, they enjoy short neighborhood walks and long car rides. They like trips to a park with a lake and playground. They also enjoy trips to the town center when they have music concerts and readings.
It is wintertime that has been a problem. They are reluctant to leave the house when it is cold and the ground may be icy and snowy. And once the Christmas holidays are past, there are virtually no activities we knew of to tempt them out of the house even if they were interested.
My brothers, sister and I sat down one day to see if we could brainstorm ideas for things to do with Mom and Aunt Marie to keep them occupied from January through April. The guys scanned their tablets and my sister and I looked through a stack of Pennysavers and other community papers we’d picked up at church and at grocery stores.
One of the newspapers my sister brought from church was a copy of your Bingo Bugle, which none of us had seen before. We all lit up at the idea—taking turns taking them to Bingo a couple times a week was a perfect solution. There were quite a few games to choose from pretty much every day of the week, which worked for all our schedules. We knew Mom and Aunt Marie loved playing games and would like it even more if they could win money. And, it gave us all something more to do while we were spending time with them. Win-win-win!
We also found some other community activities and senior center events that might be to their liking, but Bingo remained our #1 plan. We floated the idea to the “girls” and, sure enough, they perked right up when they heard the idea. Aunt Marie said she and my Uncle Wes had played Bingo on occasion. Mom reminded us of a trip she and Dad took to Las Vegas years ago during which Dad had won $200 playing Bingo and she had won on slots. Just the idea of going to Bingo had opened up happy memories for them!
A few days later, when the weather turned decent, my brother and I packed Mom and my aunt into the SUV and drove them to Bingo. They enjoyed themselves completely, had great fun fussing over coming close to Bingo and just missing, and even splurged on a couple of giant oatmeal cookies from the kitchen.
We really knew we’d struck pay dirt when we were dropping them off at home and Mom asked when we could go to Bingo again. I explained that it might be a while because a winter storm was coming soon. “Sweetie,” Mom chided me. “What’s a little snow?”
RC, Illinois, via email
Once again, the Bingo Bugle comes to the rescue!
I’m thrilled to hear that you and your family stumbled across Bingo as a source of entertainment for your mother and aunt. There’s something else you should know: Research has shown that Bingo is great therapy for seniors in enhancing hand-eye coordination, boosting cognitive abilities, improving physical health, increasing socialization, and even accelerating healing and recuperation after a medical procedure.
I should add that these two ladies are very lucky to have you and your siblings looking out for them. Bless you! —Aunt Bingo
Share your views! Write to Aunt Bingo c/o the Bingo Bugle, P.O. Box 527, Vashon, Washington 98070, or email her at STENGL456@aol.com. Be sure to include your name and address (you can request that your name not be published), as typically she will not include anonymous letters in her columns.
I was almost as excited as Kate over her upcoming birthday. An old fashioned carnival was arriving and I was going to treat Kate to a whole day of rides and fun. When I told her about it, she was delighted and ready to get going.
First we found the rides, which I do not enjoy as much as Kate, but I went on them gamely to make her birthday fun. I draw the line at the tilt-o-whirl, however, as it makes me sick to my stomach, but we went on several others that had Kate buzzing.
Next we began looking in tents and to our delight, found a Bingo tent. It was pretty crowded, but we managed to get to the front and found it was not like regular Bingo at all. Each player had only one card and there was a buy-in before every game. Chips were tossed in a big bowl and the object was to get five numbers on your card, no pattern.
We had to wait through six games before a space came up. I let Kate take it and she was off and running. I provided the dollar chips and encouragement. Soon Kate won and now there was no stopping her. She was there for the rest of the day. I actually soon got a spot and was as hooked as Kate.
Now we were in the six-on game which proved no more difficult than the five-on. A man sitting next to me was on very early and was so excited he was jiggling up and down. We were all seated at high stools and I figured people would stay as long as their bladders held out. The man next to me won and was terribly excited. He gave me a chip for luck and I placed it solemnly in the bowl, but it brought me no success.
Kate won again and happily pronounced us solvent when an uproar arose at the tent entrance. A child was trying to get in and was being prevented by several adults. “I have a right,” she screamed. “You can’t keep me out.” But it seemed she was wrong as security came to take her away.
Our games went on and just as I was beginning to tire, I won. I was ecstatic to see all those chips piled up in front of me. I gave half to Kate and we continued playing. I was curious to see how long a game took and timed the next one. Six minutes. The owners of this concession were raking in the dough as each game cost two chips, one for the pot, and one for the house.
I saw a neighboring player sneak a stray chip, but didn’t have time to do any more than note it. The play really went fast. Just as I was beginning to feel I hadn’t eaten in a week, Kate won again and I knew she would stay until her chips ran out. But it was, after all, her birthday and I was committed to giving her a good time. So I bought us hot dogs on a stick and we continued playing until the tent shut down at eleven.
“Did you have a happy birthday?” I asked.
“Oh, yes,” she replied. “And I came out $5 ahead at the Bingo game.”
I thought of the many dollars I had paid out, but only said, “Would you like to go someplace for a late dinner?”
“Oh, yes,” she said. “And I know just the place. The casino, where they play Bingo all night.”