Archived Story

Weekly bingo tradition missed

Published 9:12pm Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Traditionally, Friday nights all over the country are reserved for bingo. It was thought to be a grandma’s game night out, but not any longer.
A friendly game at a local establishment or club gave older ladies a chance to meet and socialize with their friends and maybe win a prize or a little money. Isn’t it better than staying immobile in a chair in front of the television?
Bingo is actually a therapeutic experience for many who do not get out of the house often. It is a chance to talk to others and share their views of family, politics and current medical needs. It has been proven to stimulate the brain and keep it active.
Today, with the advent of online bingo games, it is crossing generational lines. While 30 years ago a bingo hall was a sea of gray hair, today with bingo at casinos more young people are discovering the game. It’s a non-threatening form of gambling. Online bingo is a new great alternative for the non-mobile.
Now it only takes a computer and you can have Friday night games any time of the day or night or any day of the week.
No longer do you need that bag of daubers, good luck charms and a chair pad. No longer a chance to show off your special bingo shirt.
Edwardsburg had a long history of bingo games. The first recorded games were held at the old American Legion Hall in uptown Edwardsburg. Feather parties with free donuts were always an annual event.
Maybe bingo was played in the Carlisle Hall above the old hardware store. Can’t find any reports of that.
Later, Our Lady of the Lake Catholic Church got into the bingo business and it was alternately shared at the Spanish Terrace before it has its own hall.
Even children love to play bingo. Educational games have been designed around the bingo structure. Teachers are very creative in designing games for school events, which teach educational concepts using bingo cards.
The design of the game has been around for years. It is a direct descendant of the Italian lottery, organized in 1530. In the United States in 1929, the first bingo game was developed by Edwin S. Lowe in Georgia. He called it “Beano” and started with 6,000 bingo cards compiled by a mathematical professor at Columbia University with no repeated number combinations.
Is there anyone who doesn’t know how to play bingo? I doubt it! But there are a few rules. You need cards which can be just plain paper with numbers on them, a bag of dried beans, and 75 numbered pieces of paper, a caller and players. Now there are many fancy games that can be purchased but my first recollection of a home set was little round wooden discs with red painted numbers on them, a few paper cards and our own beans.
Originally, bingo winners had to have the numbers in a row horizontally, vertically or diagonally. Then new games were created that required four corners, six packs, different letters of the alphabet or covered all of the card to provide a little variety in the game.
Now there are hand-held electronic cards as well as bingo online.
After 60 or 70 years of bingo in Edwardsburg, the last Friday night game was played more than a year ago. There are just too many choices to play a game of chance.
When the lottery took over the bingo games and new rules and regulations were put in place it made it difficult for volunteers to operate games. Paperwork, record keeping and licensing took up volunteer time.
Now there are plenty of bingo parlors and casinos for those who might be addicted. Will bingo ever come back to Edwardsburg? Who knows?
In the meantime, back to TV-watching or electronic games choices.

By using this website’s user-contribution features, including comments, photo galleries, or any other feature, you agree to abide by the terms of use. Please read this agreement in its entirety because it contains useful information that will help you better understand the rules and general "good manners" that are expected when contributing content to this website.

Editor's Picks