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Editor's column: My chance to shout 'Bingo'

I walked into the Eagles Club in Morris early Saturday afternoon and was surprised by the crowd inside. Surely, all these people in the front of the club weren't there to play bingo? The back tables were nearly full and the front tables were all full. And yes, they were there to play bingo.

Since starting my job in Morris in September it's been my goal to get to bingo on Saturday afternoon at the Eagles Club or on Sunday night at the American Legion. I have an aunt who still plays but the venues are fewer as various Eagles and Legion clubs, Catholic churches and other organizations in her Iowa city have stopped calling bingo. My son plays every several weeks at bars or organization clubs in Minneapolis. He also calls bingo for a nursing home. Apparently, there are those in the under 30 crowd who find bingo kind of hip.

I probably shouldn't have been surprised at the crowd at the Eagles on Saturday. If I'd been paying attention I might have heard the progressive bingo pot was up to $1,100. Yet, even if I had heard that, I probably wouldn't have understood what a progressive jackpot is.

I still don't know exactly what a progressive jackpot is but I know it draws a crowd. Fortunately, I got to the Eagles Club in time for the fourth game. If you don't play the games from four through 14, you can't play the progressive jackpot games.

Bingo officials gave me a cheat sheet that described the games and the order in which they would be played. I didn't know you could achieve bingo in a space configuration that resembled a kite. Good thing I had that cheat sheet.

My recollection may be faulty but I believe there were at least two chances to win $1,100. The rest of the bingo game pots were $99, which is a nice healthy payout.

For $1, a player receives three cards. That was plenty for me. Being a new returnee to the game of bingo, playing at family reunions and holidays doesn't count for much, I did not want to be overwhelmed with too many cards. A table neighbor showed me how to track the more unusual games by drawing a line through only the spaces needed to create a diamond bingo and others.

It was a cool atmosphere as folks chatted between games, got up to get popcorn or a brat or another soda or drink.

I stuck to diet coke. I could not let anything cloud my cognitive skills. I had three bingo cards to watch.

I'm sure it would have been fun to win but I need to admit that I was worried I'd yell bingo, only to learn I didn't really have it, thereby, potentially upsetting the other bingo players.

A table neighbor said the inaccurate shout of bingo doesn't happen often.

I took a photo of my bingo cards and sent it to my son. He was happy I was finally able to play. Maybe I will receive my own dobber for mother's day.