Stockbridge Lions held their final bingo at the Mackinder-Glenn American Legion post on Monday, February 25, 2019. The following afternoon Marv Cook and Chuck Wisman sat down to finalize details and reminisce.
For many years Marv has been not only leader of the event, but primary bingo caller. The new automated games are far more advanced and complicated then those of us who grew up playing traditional bingo can envision. Cards, multi-games, and lottery type tickets not only make more for the participants, but for the organizers. In recent years attendance dwindled as players were drawn to larger jackpots at casinos or online.
Neither Marv or Chuck could give a definitive date as to when the bingo began, but Marv recalled that his mother-in-law, now dead 41 years, played once, did not like it and never wanted to play again. Marv himself became involved in 1981 when he joined his wife for a night out and enjoyed it. He soon became actively involved and by the mid 80s became a bingo caller and later becoming head of the entire event.
When Marv began the bingo was being held at Smith Elementary, space limitations, handicapped accessibility, and smoking laws caused a move to Township Hall. Shortly thereafter the event moved to the Legion Hall after Lions assisted the Legion in renovation of the Legion Hall. At about that time the Legion began Wednesday night Bingo which continues.
The weekly event took the regular involvement of at least fourteen people who came from Stockbridge Lions, Lionesses and Munith Lions. The Munith Lions staffed the refreshment area and the Lionesses distributed cards, collected and distributed funds. Marv who has a bingo caller license did virtually all of the calling. Chuck helped with technical equipment.
During the years those who served in leadership roles were: Dave Glenn, Gene Squires and Ed Grumelot. For a time there were two callers. Those who assisted at that were Mike Burmis, Scott Snyder, Ron Miller, John Ociewja and Mike St. Dennis. Finding volunteers fell to Jennifer Grumelot and then Jan Dunlap.
At the high point the bingo averaged attendance around 125 weekly. The state offering of criss cross lottery tickets helped to create that increase. In recent years it has averaged closer to 30.
All proceeds received by the Lions are returned to the community. Over the years the group has raised $1.2 million for these projects through the weekly Bingo. In early years the funds helped the High School Boosters, funds have also gone to Outreach, the Boy and Girl Scouts, the Stockbridge Community School District and to individuals who have no other place to go for assistance in receiving things like hearing aids. Now that the Bingo has ended the Lions will be seeking out new revenue sources in order to continue their support of community activities.
photos from Eric Holmes