Bingo’s the same — and different (from church basements to online)

Monday, November 19, 2012

Bingo has been coming to my attention lately. I just signed books at the Chicago Ukrainian Village St. Nicholas Cathedral Winter Market and Artisan Fair. I saw a sign announcing their weekly bingo games — starting every Thursday at 7 p.m.

“Bingo!” I said to one of the church staff. “I haven’t played bingo in years.” My eyes glistened with childhood memories of back in Minnesota. As a grade-schooler, I helped my mom at bingo games. The games were held in the church basement. Folks sat along rows of fold out tables. Some played with six or more cards each game while the caller pulled up the bingo balls from the glass-powered box. “N-33!” … “B-13!” I helped Mom in the kitchen, to serve sandwiches and coffee. At one point she let me go out to the dining area, buy one card for a game or two. It was so exciting trying to spell out BINGO from the numbers and letters that were called — especially if you only needed one more to win. “Come on O-73!” It was fun to get that final letter and shout out “Bingo!” Then the crowd throughout the basement sighed and laughed and opened the shutters on their cards to begin a new game.

Now online Bingo has come to my attention — in the form of Cheekybingo. The web site is cheeky, featuring the hostess “Cheeky.” On the web site, one may visit her “Diary” to find out what specialty games are featured on what days, like “Cocktail Hour: Bingo on the drink patterns” coming up November 21st.

I like Cheeky. She reminds me in a way of Ms. Pacman. Yet but of course no one is quite like Ms. Pacman; she is in a class by herself. Anyway, I checked out Facebook and Twitter pages, and Cheeky has fun comments for everyday life, as well as for bingo announcements. is an internationally available game site. Anyone who has access to the Internet may play. That is, if their local jurisdiction allows it. I found out that Illinois has certain restrictions to online “games for chance or skill.”  That’s a good thing for me. I’d likely need to stay away from Cheeky Bingo for the same reason I need to stay away from Ms. Pacman — I’d have so much fun I’d play incessantly.

At least church bingos have a limited time. The St. Nicholas Cathedral bingo is once per week, 7p.m.-10p.m. The church staff recommends to show up at 6 to get the bingo cards and get seated.

Now that I know that, I’m tempted to join in, buy a sandwich and coffee, pull up a folding chair, ante up for one card, and wait for the caller to turn on the machine and begin the game. “G-51!”

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