The bingo ladies of old | Tess Tales

Source: wpclipart.com

Source: wpclipart.com

My mother was a hoot. June Cleaver with a dash of the crazy and a little of Maude. You have to be of a certain age to remember those TV programs but you can click if you want to know more.

There are very few things my mother enjoyed more than shopping (oh, where did I get that from??) and bingo (didn’t get that gene at all). 

We would shop. Sometimes we didn’t buy much or just a small something for me but there was always lunch at a luncheonette. Those were counters in stores that served hot dogs, barbecue, a few casserole entrees along with sodas, ice cream and milkshakes. Lime Rickey’s were a favorite of mine.

For a child that’s wonderful food. We didn’t eat like that at home so it was like lobster to me.

Back then there weren’t fast food chains or pizza parlors so you ate at home except for special occasions. Then you ate fancy and you better not spill anything especially on your patent leather shoes.

The luncheonette ladies were chatty and over time you got to know them. They called me honey or sweetie and weren’t averse to making my scoop extra big. They also had the best gossip!

My mother would take me to bingo. It was in our church basement on a Sunday night. The best thing was the hot dogs. (I know this sounds like a theme but processed foods were rarely available.)

My mother was one of the more normal bingo players. Many of them were cutthroat. You couldn’t talk loudly during the game or you would get yelled at. Very hard for child. I usually had coloring books or something to read but that was never as fun as watching the ladies.

Everyone was dressed up. It was Sunday which was dress up day. You didn’t go anywhere unless you had on stockings, slips, and girdles. Oh yes and lipstick – not necessarily inside the lip lines either.

Did I mention this was before air conditioning?

The routine back then was to get your hair done once a week at the local hairdresser and lacquer it with hairspray. Overnight you either used a hairnet or toilet paper to keep it in place.

I remember the bingo lady smells – hairspray, perfume (could it be Evening in Paris?), grease from the kitchen along with some old-fashioned sweat.

My mother couldn’t be bothered with the weekly hair appointment but she used hairspray for those wayward ends and just a splash of lipstick.  

Mama June of Honey Boo Boo fame

Mama June of Honey Boo Boo fame

There was one player that made Mama June look like Twiggy. She didn’t have many teeth and was convinced that sitting on her “specials” board would bring her luck. Sheesh. I’m sure her netherlands were sweaty! It was hot in there. I wouldn’t touch that thing with a 10 foot pole.

Once you got past that she was a nice lady. She always called me “girly” and gave me a nickel for a candy bar. (Nickel candy bars! Guess that dates me!)

Truthfully I don’t miss bingo but I sure miss shopping with my Mom.

 

 

38 thoughts on “The bingo ladies of old | Tess Tales

  1. Pingback: Reading to the Kitties | Writer Site

  2. Oh this brings back so many memories of going to bingo parlors with my grandmother and my aunt.I remember this woman who had all these things in her hair for luck, and she was constantly chewing gum. I was memorized by the whole scene, probably still would today. But I’m a bit daffy to begin with.

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  3. I remember going downtown (this was before malls) to shop with my mother. Afterwards, we would have lunch at the store’s “fancy” restaurant — I always ordered the open-face turkey sandwich with mash potatoes. She didn’t really like to shop but I think it was her way of making a special day for the two of us. She NEVER played bingo. I miss her so much.

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    • My mother didn’t wear EIP. She had a small glass bottle of something “good” that was a tawny shade of brown probably because it was old. I remember it my entire life because she only wore it for “good” occasions. I think it was Chanel No. 5. Most of the time she smelled like Noxzema or Jergens lotion. Those are the scents I associate with her.

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  4. I recently went to a Coach Bingo, as in Coach Bags. Let me just say I was scared at times at what some women might do for a Coach purse. Since I’m still in the mindset that you get dressed up when you go out to an event, that’s what I did. Little did I know that pajama bottoms are now acceptable. (Your mother and her Bingo posse are probably turning in their grave). I just kept thinking…a Coach Bag and pajama bottoms.
    I also miss the days of respecting yourself, coloring, being doted on and luncheonettes! Do you remember Horn & Hardats?
    Good times indeed!

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    • I do remember H&H! Maybe the game makes women aggressive. Don’t get the dress code either. My Mom occasionally went to a penny bingo. Each game was a penny and you won canned goods. On a good night you could carry home a couple of cans of corn and peas! Woohoo! Good times! I play the lottery occasionally. No people in pj’s, no aggressive women. Of course there are no hot dogs or winnings either.

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  5. I don’t remember eating at a luncheonette very often . . . but I loved going to the automat in NYC and picking out the food behind Door #1, #2, or #3.

    Thanks for a fun share, Kate.

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  6. I miss shopping with my mom, too. Since we lived in a small town, our best shopping trips were to the city (Bellingham, WA) or the big city (Seattle). The lunch place I remember was at the Bon Marche. Men didn’t usually eat there, and the ladies always seemed to dress as though they were going to high tea. I don’t remember eating hot dogs. It was more like soup and fancy little sandwiches. (They were probably just BLT and tuna, but that’s the way I remember them.)

    My mom was a wonderful seamstress, so we shopped together at the fabric store, pouring over the pattern books and the bolts of cloth together. Shopping in Seattle, we dared enter I. Magnin’s a few times. The prices were too high to even consider, but I tried dresses on while my mom sat in the dressing room drawing pictures of the ones she might want to make herself.

    My mom enjoyed shopping even when she had to make her way through the racks with her walker.

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    • My mother was stubborn. In her later years she had asthma that sapped her energy levels. I wanted to take her shopping in a wheelchair to conserve it as much as possible but she wouldn’t have any of that. What would people think if they saw her in a wheelchair. Walkers weren’t as big back then and she wouldn’t use a cane either. I hope I am not like that. You did remind me that both of us sewed clothes and we would spend a lot of time in fabric shops. There are very few fabric shops around these days.

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  7. This brings back happy memories for me, too. I see the references to Woolworth’s and that was OUR luncheonette, too. We still talk about how much fun it was to have a grilled cheese sandwich and a Coke at that counter. My mom, grandmother and I went to shop at that “dime store” (did you call them dime stores where you grew up?) and then have lunch before going home and to this day I don’t think I could enjoy a meal any more than that! You have really struck my nostalgia nerve, Kate. Lovely!

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    • I just looked it up because I was questioning myself. I guess the term was “five and dime” but by the time I entered the scene, or maybe it was the inflated California economy, we dropped the “five” and they were just “dime stores.” 🙂

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      • We called them five and dime but it was the same thing. Those lunches with my mother were just wonderful. She always let me order whatever I wanted. (not that you could order lobster tail there….)

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    • In our area, there weren’t in between restaurants. You either went to a Dairy Queen or luncheonette or you ate fancy. By fancy I mean sitting at a table with a tablecloth with entrees and absolutely dressing up. It was too expensive to do that too often in our family. My Dad liked eating at home best.

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  8. I remember wearing Evening in Paris cologne as a teenager…. I thought it was quite exotic…. although I think I liked the name and the midnight blue bottle more than the aroma of the actual cologne!

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  9. Girdles and hot dogs…I remember the era well. I had a panty-girdle to hold up my garter belt holding up stockings bagging at the knees.
    My favorite thing was going to the cafeteria at the Brookside Shopping Centered housed at some five and dime whose name escapes me…apple pie…meat loaf…peas steaming through the glass case manned by women in hairnets and sup-hose..and yes…they said things like…a little gravy for ya honey? Them were the days Kate…no worries…and Bingo..yes…B13? I remember that too.. Great post 🙂

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    • I hated girdles. I was a small person so I really didn’t need them. I had garter belts for stockings and I remember those strappy things to keep your “sanitary pads” in place. All that stuff moved around and was uncomfortable! Fortunately when I came of age, women were burning them along with the bras and tampons were invented. I did wear panty hose for work but never the support ones. The only support I was looking for was in my checking account!

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      • Once in a while I’ll work on something that’s period and they put you in a girdle…me who has nothing to gird…but the discomfort always mystifies since I know millions of women wore them like armor beneath their shirtwaists.
        I have a vivid picture of my mother applying make-up in a long line bra and girdle girding her loins, so to speak, for some party.
        It was discovered later how bad they were for your organs…ugh…love the line… the only support I was looking for was in my checking account…la la

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  10. I’ve never played bingo in a hall. We played at home in front of the TV, but never took it to the next level. Now shopping with my mom I did do, back when it was a daylong adventure in the big city. Nothing like the online shopping that I do now. It was much more of an event, than a necessity.

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  11. Thanx for the memories! Shopping with my mom was always an adventure and I always wore out first. Breakfasts at the Woolworth counter, taking the city bus downtown, haunting the big library, maybe taking in a movie, and of course looking and touching and trying in the big dept. Stores.

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    • When I started working there was a Woolworth counter in the nearby city. It only served pizza but I loved it too. When I was little we would sometimes take the bus to the “city.” Other times my Mom would drive us to the nearby town which had a shopping center. I remember getting my confirmation dress. It was a fluffy white dress. I felt like a bride (at 12 years old).

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