Monday, December 12, 2011

Bingo In Colorado

If you didn't know already, a project that I have currently in progress is called "Bingo Culture."  I am traveling to different bingo halls across the country to meet players and document the game as it is played in different states.  Throughout my journey, I've documented halls in Maine, Georgia, California, South Carolina, and Massachusetts.  I have just now visited a hall in Colorado.

I went to Fort Collins Colorado to attend the opening of an exhibit I was selected to participate in at the Center for Fine Art Photography.  After the opening and events throughout the weekend, I had a day to spare so I thought it would be nice to visit a local bingo hall to meet the locals.

I wanted to get there early because most players arrive long before the game begins to claim their playing space to start setting up their game cards.  In this case, many brought tape to secure several cards into one big sheet to play on the table...spread out like a poster.  I am always interested in the lives of the players and sometimes they are open to meeting a stranger.  I was in luck this time since all of the players at this hall were so sweet to me.  I sat down across from Beatrice, or "B" as she wanted me to call her.  She said, "My name is Beatrice but don't call me that." I asked her about her life and when she started playing bingo.  She told me about her grandkids and kids and her late husband.  She is 89 and started coming to the bingo hall after her husband died to get out of the house and be social.  As she put it, she said, "Well, it beats sitting in front of the boob tube!"  Indeed it is.

Sometimes I get emotional and reflective when I look back at the photographs I've taken of the players.  Partly because it's a dying breed.  There are very few young people here playing and as "B" and I agreed, it will die off as the players die off.  This is why I am documenting it.  Well, more than just that.  I miss my grandparents and when I meet these players, it makes me feel good that they are out doing something fun and social.  I enjoy talking to the players and learning about their life.

There isn't just a bingo game going one at the hall.  They serve home made food (I loved the deviled eggs), have side games of a bingo equivalent of a lottery "scratcher" and one of the players makes these beautiful dolls that are raffled off each week.

Yes, "B" certainly beats sitting in front of the boob tube.


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