Robert recently became a member of the Andy Anderson American Legion Post 125. I've applied to become a member of the American Legion's Auxiliary. In the meantime, we've both been invited several times to come on a Wednesday night and play Bingo.
Not knowing what to expect, we exchanged our bills for a wad of one's and headed to the post this past Wednesday.
We arrived shortly before the 6 p.m. Bingo start time. There were about two dozen people scattered in the bar area and main hall. We walked up to the Caller, Bernie, and I quickly blurted out that I'm a "first-timer". Bernie and Allan (a bingo worker) both explained to Robert and I how to sign up for the hot ball and buy bingo sheets. I must have looked confused because Bernie pointed to the back of the room and yelped at two women at the corner round table. She asked Gerry and Rose if we could sit by them, so they can show us how to play. The ladies in the back said sure. And off Robert and I went, for Bingo 101.
We pulled up two chairs at the back table and introduced ourselves to Gerry and Rose. Gerry said "You've never played Bingo?" I said "no". "Even when you were a little kid," she said. Well, of course I played some kind of Bingo, but I had never bet or paid anything for Bingo.
One of the Bingo workers, Tony, came around selling the sheets. Gerry explained that the larger sheets were $2 and small $1. Robert and I bought 2 large sheets, picked out blue dabbers and geared up for our first game. I thought we had "beginner's luck" on our hands.
Well, fast forward a couple games and a few dollars later . . . no win. I kept talking to my Bingo sheet, "C'mon"! The rest of the table chuckled. At least the experience was entertaining. Here's what I learned from Gerry and Rose as we played along. There are different types of Bingo formations. You can win on a postage stamp (when four connecting boxes are stamped), four corners (when 4 corners of the box are stamped) and a traditional Bingo. But, as games went on, the formations changed. We were to form a "crazy kite", "checkmark" and in some games, a six square box. I really liked that Bernie switched it up. I guess I just thought Bingo was played one way.
I also found out that you can order food and drinks from kitchen until the 6th game of Bingo. Oh, I could smell the fried onion rings Rose ordered. Yum!
During mid-run, when we hadn't won anything yet, Gerry put in an extra $2 and bought us a large Bingo sheet. That was nice of her, but we didn't win. Gerry on the other hand, had two bingo's throughout the night! Each time, she won a wad of cash that varied. It always varied on how many people buy Bingo sheets for that round.
Bingo lasted from about 6 to 9 ish. That's because there are 15 games. At the end, the 15th game is considered the big jackpot! If you Bingo on the 15th game within 56 balls or less, you win $250! And on the last game, you have to stamp out the entire sheet. We called it a blackout, but I forget what Bernie called it. And can you believe it, a lady in the middle of the room yelled out "Bingo" on the 57th ball. She didn't get the $250, but she did get $50. I'm still trying to figure out the winnings and calculations. I just asked Gerry what was going on, and she filled me in as the night went on.
During breaks, Robert and I walked around, chatted with members and introduced ourselves. Our table was fun, and Gerry and Rose were very informative and entertaining. People cracked jokes. Ed, a man I've run into at the earlier in the day, came over and showed Robert and I a couple of carnival tricks. Ed made a nickel appear out of my ear, turned two pennies into three and untied a rope from my finger!
What can I say. . . it was Bingo night at the American Legion. We'll be back!