Family Stories: B 14… BINGO

Family Stories: B 14… BINGO

Family Stories_ B 14... BINGO.png

As a child, I don’t have any memory of ever playing Bingo, but after marrying, and living with my in-laws while Steve was stationed in Thailand… I soon learned how popular this game was in his hometown of West Haven, CT.

It wasn’t long after living there when I discovered that Bingo in West Haven was a big attraction! There were Bingo halls everywhere… in every church hall! My mother in law mainly played at her favorites of St. Paul’s Church and the Jewish Community hall. Steve remembers she liked the Jewish Community hall the best as she seemed to win more there… and we go where we win! I wonder if she had a certain place she liked to sit… as she always liked to sit in certain places when she gambled… her lucky spot, she would say!


Even though St. Paul’s church and its Bingo games are no more… the sign remains!

Steve went a few times with his mother to play Bingo when he was young, usually on Thursday nights at St. Paul’s church hall. That was one of the more popular Bingo halls in West Haven and also where his parents were married and he made his confirmation.

st paul church

ST. Paul’s Church… West Haven, CT

I remember going to the Jewish Community Bingo hall with her several times… and she watched my cards like a hawk… and whoever sat on the other side of me… watched too! I never bought more than a few cards… while she’d have “dozens”… all lined up in front of her… and after scanning hers…. she always found time to look over at mine and find a number I missed. That always amazed me, and sometimes I felt a little intimidated with all these women watching my cards! They didn’t even have to know you… if you sat next to someone… they had prying eyes… looking at your cards and enjoyed telling you that you missed a number. It was serious business with them… they weren’t there for the coffee and donuts… they were there to bring home the money! Being a new, young bride with a husband deployed overseas… my mind was elsewhere! I was probably thinking of that letter I wanted to write him when I went home…. maybe even telling him how his mother dragged me to Bingo that night.


I found this in a book at a tag sale last summer. Hubby said he didn’t think his mother ever went to the Italian-American club for Bingo, but it was another popular Bingo spot!

After Steve came home from Thailand, we often went weekly with his mom to Bingo at The Jewish Community Hall… he was more lucky than I was. Once he was even crowned “King“… winning $50 dollars and free cards to play the following week; I never won “Queen.”

My mother in law went weekly to Bingo… every Thursday was St. Paul’s… the Jewish Community Center was often Monday or Friday and hubby remembers Sunday evenings was at the Knights of Columbus… but she had to be desperate for a place to go in order to go there… they had small pots. It wasn’t like St. Paul’s, who once in awhile had a $1000 pot up for grabs… and I’m sure it was standing room only on those nights! Hubby and his best friend worked a few Sundays helping to serve food at the Knights of Columbus…. they made a few bucks and sometimes were even tipped… but only when the players were winning… no one tips when they’re losing! Steve said he probably made about two bucks an hour working those Sunday afternoons… but it was money!


Even my father (Clayton Bryan) played Bingo at one of our family picnics. It was probably the first time he’d ever played, but if he had… it had been a long time ago; he was a gambler at heart!

I remember being amazed in watching the women come in for Bingo… setting up their area was a ritual. The Bingo cards were bought and all lined up in perfect order, then out came the many colored markers, chips, or colored stampers, and it wasn’t just one color stamper, they had several different colors… then their secret weapons came out… the “good luck” charms. They were serious Bingo players… they weren’t playing for prizes… they were playing for Money! Bingo was really a legal gambling game and just as popular with both the women and men! Those Bingo halls were crowded… hardly a seat left at the tables if you were late! And if it snowed… they still came! Snow never kept my mother in law home… she was always pacing the floor to go before she left… she lived for gambling!

Did you play Bingo… leave me a comment below!


To read more Family Stories… click HERE.

© 2019, copyright Jeanne Bryan Insalaco; all rights reserved


About Jeanne Bryan Insalaco

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