This Ain’t Granny's Church Basement Bingo

-- Follow up to The Slumber Party and then Takin' a "Chance" --

My experience with Bingo is...... Limited.

IMG_0097 As young children, my sister and I (frequently) played Bingo when we went to Grandma's house.  It was one of the regular activities that we did when we spent time with her.  She had a little "Milton Bradley" boxed set - with little wooden pieces, and a "shaker" that was used to pick the bingo numbers.  (Man, I thought that "shaker" was the coolest thing as a kid - in reality, it's nothing more than a small box with a hole in it.)  After Grandma moved out of her house and into a nursing home, my Dad and my Uncle cleaned her house.  It was during that cleaning that I came into possession of the old Bingo game.  The sight, and smell (that unmistakable smell of musty cardboard that has been stored in your grandma’s basement (or attic) for MANY years) of that game brings back many fond memories for me! 

(Photo is the actual game we used to play with Grandma!)

My next experience with Bingo came many years later.  My Dad spent several years as a Bingo volunteer for our Parish's weekly Bingo Games.  All I really know of his career as a "Bingo volunteer" is that he would come home complaining of the cigarette smoke, and smelling like an ashtray.

The most recent experiences I have had with Bingo are more examples of "Church Bingo".  My Mother-in-Law has always enjoyed partaking in her parish's Turkey and Ham Bingos around the holiday seasons.  I believe they are a decent fundraising opportunity for the parish, and she has fun with family and friends who attend with her.

Turkey / Ham Bingo is played in the Church Basement - and winners receive... Turkeys or Hams (and, for my upper Midwest and Minnesota readers, when I say "Hams", I mean THIS - not THIS)

While we were dating, and when we were first married, Grandma would frequently take The Mother of Five and #1 of 5 with her on these Bingo excursions.  It was not until the last couple of years that I actually attended a couple of these "Turkey" or "Ham" Bingo games with the family.  They were what I expected.  Bingo, with Turkeys or Hams as prizes.

- Returning to reality from my flashbacks -

We arrived at the Mystic Lake Casino, and sought out the Bingo Hall.  (Apparently, they have their own wing dedicated solely to Bingo!).  Passing the penny, nickel, dime, quarter, and dollar slot machines, Keno machines, Video Poker, and all things blinking, beeping, and clinking - we finally arrived at the Bingo Cashier.

04-17-10_2101We looked over the plethora of Bingo Package options available to us, finally settling on the "Introduction Package" in paper.  I'm too much a cheapskate to spend the extra $$ for "electronic" Bingo... It's BINGO after all.  How hard can it be?? - (Yeah, that's a little foreshadowing)

We arrived late, found "B" & "J", and sat down with them. 

The first thing we had to do was set up.  We laid out our "cards" (a tablet of 12 sheets that each had 6 cards on each page).  The first thing I discovered was that I had no way to mark the cards.  Desperate for a pen, yet unable to find one.  Good thing too!  I later discovered that to qualify for a "win" the cards must be marked with a "Bingo Dauber".

Fine, whatever.  Where do they give these things out, I asked.  "Give them out"... (Snicker)  Yeah.  Right.

I was pointed to a row of vending machines where patrons could purchase a "dauber" for $2.00 each.  I took $2.00 with me and bought a dauber for the Mother of Five and I to share.  I returned to the table, settled in and prepared for the next game.

"Bee eight".  "Enn thirty two".  "Eye twenty".

04-17-10_2100The numbers came fast and furious.  They came as fast as I could scan my card(s)... Sometimes faster!  While the Mother of Five daubed her card, I put fingers on the spaces I needed to daub.  As soon as she was finished, I grabbed the dauber and started daubing the numbers on my card while the Mother of Five kept track of the spaces she needed to daub because the caller was already onto the next number.

By the third or fourth number called, we had surpassed our capacity to keep up.  I tapped out.  The fact is there was NO WAY that two people could keep up using one dauber (and the giggles that came from the "grandmotherly" bingo player across the table from us only served to confirm – I describe her this way because she was as endearing as a grandmother.  She helped out out many many times, and I was grateful for her being there)...  So, while opting out of that game, I quickly ran to the dauber machine, and dropped another two bucks for a second dauber.

(Yes, that is me rolling my eyes… Sarcastically)

By the time I reached my seat, the current game (that I "tapped out" of) was already complete, and they were on their second number of the next game.  I scrambled to catch up.  And struggled throughout the evening to not fall behind again.

What I learned that evening - is that Big Casino Bingo is not the same as the Bingo of my memories.  It's fast action.  It's cutthroat. It's.... EXTREME!

04-17-10_2139And, as if just keeping up with the caller was not enough...  I also discovered that the days of "line across", "line down", "diagonal" and the oh-so-crazy "four corners" and "cover all" Bingos are gone...  I learned there are all types of new "Bingos" - Bingos like "Double Bingo", "The Kite", "Six Pack", "Six Pack and Two Corners", "Postage Stamps", "Inside Frame", "Outside Frame", and "Broken Frame" just to name a few of the many Extreme Bingo options out there!

What was it that I learned through all of this??

I learned that Casino Bingo just Ain’t your Granny's Church Basement Bingo.

Will I go to Mystic Lake Casino's Bingo again?

I'm not sure.  But I've now got $4.00 worth of daubers, and nothing to daub.   Hmmm... Maybe I should talk to my Church Basement Turkey / Ham Bingo playing Mother in Law into taking up a slightly more "extreme" version!


  1. I dunno ... I've volunteered at some church basement bingo events as a Scout and ... I knew I couldn't keep up ... my suggestion: Go back to the casino, hock the daubers to some granny for $1.50 each, and cut your losses ;-)

    Or ... get ready to go back for some fast paced, quick action, EXTREME bingo fun ... if you enjoy that sort of thing.

    You play your game, I'll play mine ...

  2. Church bingo has gotten pretty crazy and cutthroat too.


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