Sunday, September 16, 2012

"There was a farmer who had a dog...

And Bingo was his name-o.
And Bingo was his name-o."

I cannot see a Bingo card without having that song from my Brownie days come into my head.  My Grandmother used to play Bingo with abandonment.  She and my Aunt would sit with 15 or more cards spread out in front of them.  When I saw a stash of Bingo cards at the flea market, I had to have them.  While doing some research for this today, I realize Bingo "stuff" is big in the scrapbooking and jewelry markets.
Its history can be traced to Italy in the 16th century when they play "Lo Giuoco del Lotto D'Italia" (The Clearance of the Lot of Italy) every Saturday.  The lotto game still exists.

The French picked up lotto in the late 1700s. One version used a playing card with nine columns and three rows, with four free spaces per row.  I got these cards in my Bingo lot...looks like a French lotto style.  The caller reached into a bag and picked out wooden chips marked 1-90~1-10 in the first column, 11-20 in the second, and so on.  The first player to cover a row was a winner. 

The craze spread across Europe, but by the 1800s the Germans turned it into a child's game to help students learn math, spelling and history.  Fast forward to the early 1900s and America.
It was called "beano" (little did anyone know it would come to be an anti-gas pill!).  Anyway, it was 1929, and it was being played at a carnival in Atlanta, Georgia, when a struggling toy salesman, Edward Lowe,  stopped by to relax.  He saw a huge crowd playing "Beano."  As numbers were called out, players put a dry bean on the card.  When all the numbers were covered, he or she won.  Lowe inquired about the game, and, true to his roots as a traveling salesman, he realized some big money could be made.   He returned to New York, bought some dried beans, a numbering stamp, and cardboard.
 The game consisted of 12 cards for $1 or 24 for $2.  Everyone loved it, and one night a girl yelled out "Bingo" instead of "Beano" and the name stuck.  Now, the tale gets interesting!  A priest (no comments!) wanted to use the game to raise funds for his church, but he did not think it had enough number combinations, and too many people won.  Lowe saw more money and in 1930 hired a mathematics professor from Columbia University to increase the numbered cards.  The professor agreed, but it is reported that he went mad after he accomplished the task of designing 6,000 different cards! (Sorry...but I had to chuckle...I can fully understand that madness!)
By 1934, more than 10,000 bingo games were held weekly, and today $90 million is spent weekly, and I do not imagine that includes online bingo.
These cards are labeled "Radio," and I found a game machine that must have gone with them. 

 So, once again, whatever comes to America turns into a money making machine!
Anyway, do not make fun of those folks sitting in those Bingo halls~remember what Ben Franklin said, “We do not stop playing because we grow old, we grow old because we stop playing!” 

1 comment:

Guernsey Girl said...

Bingo! I really enjoyed reading this blog - & I've learned a lot. I live near Blackpool - England's bingo capital....though I've yet to have a go!