Me, A Carnival and Gambling
As I remember it was late Spring of the year that the Carnival came to our small town. It was sponsored by the Lions' Club., a fund raising event for them. It was contracted out to a small carnival and fair company. They would come and set up an assortment of rides and a midway of food and game of chance stands while the Lions were allowed to set up their own row of games of chance booth for children and adults, such as crown and anchor and fish pond where every child got a gift.
The Carnival was a big event where everyone would come for some of the time over the three days. I always went. Besides finding the events interesting I found the Carny
men and women fascinating and wondered about the lives they lived. They always seemed nice but appeared rather scruffy. U guess I was middle class clean back then. You know, "Cleanliness is next to Godliness."
This is a typical booth of some game of chance. There were always a few people just watching while other played. The gifts look grand like all the large stuffed animal but few of these were awarded, instead you were more likely to get some cheap trinket for your efforts.
This is a picture of a carnival in Dayton, OH in the mid fifties. It reminded me of the modest home made stands for our Lions' Club games of chance.
I had a life lesson learned by me at the Port Credit Lions' Club Carnival one year. It would have been in the mid '50s. I was 9 or 10 , I think. I was old enough to walk the mile or so by myself, to the St. Lawrence Starch Works Park, where the Carnival was set up. (Kid's were allowed to wander further from home in those days.)
I had a five dollar bill I had earned on my paper route. My mother saw me with it as I was stuffing it in my pocket. "You aren't going to take all that money with you to the Carnival! It is too much to spend there."
(Five dollars was a lot of money in those days) I assured her I did not intend to spend it all and I would be careful with it.. She let me leave with it but I could tell she was nervous about me having all that money.
I liked to wander around and watch the games of chance. I was not particularly keen on playing them. Finally, I found myself watching for the longest time a game of skill where you had to drop metal discs to cover up a circular spot. I watched the Carny guy do it time after time and it looked easy. I spotted a watch they awarded as a prize. The more I watched the more I wanted that watch and the easier that game of skill looked.
I stepped up to play with a vision of wearing that watch. Right off the bat I almost got all the circle covered. Just a small sliver showed on one time. I tried again. I was so close again. I tried again and if only the last one had landed a little different I would have had that watch. I tried again, and again and again Wanting to win that watch became desperate to win that watch for without winning it how could I explain to my mother that I spend more than I indicated I would. In fact, I spend the whole of the five dollars and still had no watch. I can still remember the feeling of defeat, and regret and how foolish I had been.
Now I had to go home and tell my mother what I had done and how I had lost all the money. She would be disappointed in me. Oh, how I hated to disappoint my mother.Just to hear her say, "Oh, Philip!. . . . ." I know I had disappointed her as well as myself. She didn't need to say anymore. I spend years remembering the feelings I had that day which was punishment of the worst kind.
Here is a copy of the dreadful game that defeated me and caused me to waste my small fortune.
If I had only know there were instruction on how the win at this game. The Carny man knew them and I didn't . I was the sucker and victim.
As a result of this lesson learned so many years ago I have never gambled or played any games of chance. I don't even play bingo. I never have bought a lottery ticket. I had an older friend who used to buy me one for Christmas each year. I could never bring myself to tell her what a unwelcomed gift it was. It was like getting a hankerchief at Christmas from my grandmother. ( I guess no one buys hankerchiefs these days)
I am dead set against all gambling and regret that the government took it over from the criminals. Gambling is a bad way to finance government. If there are programs we want and need from the government we should be willing to pay for them though taxation in proportion to everyone's ability to pay.
I guess I will never understand the thrill of gambling. To not win, which is virtually all the time, it would fill me with great reget for trying. I would remember that occasion at the Carnival. How painful it was to win nothing for my money and remember how hard it was to earn that sum working delivering papers. And, of course, the disappointment in my mothers voice.