The Spaces Between Your Fingers

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I interviewed my father John while I was back home for a weekend. As he told me this memory, he had a smile on his face the whole time. He also tried to impersonate some of the old ladies for me and give me a good picture of the bingo hall. My dad loves telling everyone about his “job” he had for the bingo ladies. I believe that he enjoys the memory so much because of how funny the situation was, and how shocking it was that he made a profit from it all.

John’s first real “job” took place during the summer after his freshman year of high school. Johns mom, Patricia, frequently went to the firehall in town for bingo nights, so John would accompany her. Bingo, in the small Pennsylvanian town of Middleburg, was a very popular pastime for most of the women. The firehall would always be packed full of tableclothed tables, lined with old women smoking cigarettes and drinking coffee. The atmosphere in the room during bingo was always very serious. Most of the ladies in the room would have anywhere up to 10 bingo cards laid out in front of them at a time. Next to them, their lucky troll dolls and ceramic figurines. Since bingo was taken so seriously, Johns job was to essentially be an errand boy for all the players. He loved it. John would pace the tables and women would yell at him in their deep smoker voices “Johnny, go get me a coffee and a donut, and keep the change sweetheart.” John would spend the nights running back and forth getting the older women soup, coffee, cigarettes. Sometimes he’d even watch their cards if they had to use the restroom. At the end of each night John would go home with a couple dollars in his pocket and a lungful of secondhand smoke. 

One night while John was doing his daily routine, his mother’s friend Ethel had to use the bathroom but didn’t want to leave her cards. Ethel was a dedicated bingo player and hadn’t missed a single bingo night in town. She believed that if she left, she would lose the game. Eventually she broke, and she had John take her spot. When she came back from the bathroom John had won her the jackpot of the night. There he sat with a huge smile on his face knowing he was about to receive a very generous tip. 

 Afterwards, John became a favorite and a lucky charm amongst all the women. This only made business better for him, which increased his profits. It became known that when there was a bingo night, you could expect to see John there too running around. 

BINGO!

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1970's
Kreamer, PA

I interviewed my father John while I was back home for a weekend. As he told me this memory, he had a smile on his face the whole time. He also tried to impersonate some of the old ladies for me and give me a good picture of the bingo hall. My dad loves telling everyone about his “job” he had for the bingo ladies. I believe that he enjoys the memory so much because of how funny the situation was, and how shocking it was that he made a profit from it all.

Decade: 1970s
Rating:
Recorded by Jeron Kreamer on December 6, 2018
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