I was about eight or nine, and had gone with a girlfriend to our local shopping center. It was the Saturday before Mother’s Day, and I needed to get my mother a gift, besides which there was to be a local fair. Sure enough, it was all we expected it to be! There was a nickel toss where you could win beautiful prizes, and I saw a set of dishes that I was sure my mother would love. A few nickels to win them, and I would have the remainder of my five or six dollars to spend on myself. It was a brilliant plan!
In those days my wants weren’t big and this would be just what was needed to spread my wealth and delight both my mother and myself. She would be thrilled with what my money otherwise couldn’t have bought and I envisioned a week’s supply of bubblegum cigars for myself, an ice-cream cone and perhaps even a painted turtle from the Five and Ten Store?
How fortunate I was to have such a good brain that could scheme so well! Only an hour later, I returned home, my pocket full of booby prizes: Chinese finger pull traps, balloons, little ring puzzles and a yoyo. Still stunned that I had run out of nickels with no new dishes or bubblegum cigars for me, I reported to my father, hoping I could gain his sympathy and another allowance for a Mother’s Day gift. He chuckled and said, “Mmmm, so you learned your lesson-- that gambling doesn’t pay?”. He then offered to help me wrap my bizarre assortment of the worst Mother’s Day presents ever. No sympathy or extra money was given to me despite my tears.
Yes, my kids and I would have an inexpensive night out, have fun, and either win the bingo lottery, or learn (again) that gambling doesn’t pay. We went with just about the same sort of cash as in my first gambling venture, a jug of Kool-aid and a bag full of cookies. With the help of my newly acquired and much experienced bingo friends who saw our innocent green faces and watched over our single cards to be sure we didn’t miss any called number, along with their dozens of cards in front of them, we won!! It was no big lottery, but enough to “wet our whistle” to try again next week for a bigger pot of gold.
Mom, I am thinking of you this Mother’s Day and am still wondering what you did with those Chinese finger traps, ring puzzles, balloons and yoyo? And I have to smile now, for as life comes full circle, I remember other such silly booby prizes in your drawers, as I cleaned out your home. You had succumbed to playing lotteries and were scammed to enter many a sweepstake. Now I know it is from your genes that I come with such crazy schemes and it makes you more dear to me than ever! I have grown up to be like my mother, in more ways than I ever imagined! I love you forever Mom!!