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Tossing Pebbles in the Stream

This blog is my place to sit and toss pebbles into the stream. The stream of Life relentlessly passing before us. We can affect it little. For the most part I just watch it passing and follow the flow. Occasionally, I need to comment on its passing, tossing a pebble at it to enjoy the ripple affect upon Life's surface.

Wednesday, May 01, 2013

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.


At 8:46 p.m., Blogger Anvilcloud said...

I am not a gambler either, but I do buy the occasional lottery ticket. I don't consider it gambling although I suppose it really is. To me gambling has to do with expecting to beat the odds. In the case of lotteries, no one in their right mind expects to win. There is simply no way to beat the odds; you simply give yourself a a sliver of a chance to get struck by lightning, as it were.

At 7:17 a.m., Blogger possum said...

How lucky you were to NOT win that watch. Had you actually managed to win it it might have started you on a love of gambling or games of chance, most of which are rigged, by the way.
Pity the poor fool who does not learn this lesson and spends his life blowing every cent he gets looking for that high that never comes. I can't believe the excitement winning $10 on a scratch off ticket after spending $5 or $10 a week on tickets that win nothing! OH LOOK! I have spent $500 this year buying tickets and I just won $10! Whoopee! How lucky I am! Here, let me buy another couple tickets now that I've got this $10!
Yep, you were blessed to have learned so young.

At 1:47 p.m., Blogger Ginnie said...

There's really nothing that compares to the old time carnivals.
We have an old Ex-carny in our AA group and we love it when he shares his stories of those days. He has almost 45years of sobriety but has never lost his love of the "carny life"...even though it's what contributed big time to his downfall with alcohol.

At 10:49 a.m., Blogger Owen Gray said...

We had a similar carnival on the West Island of Montreal when I was a kid. I remember spending a dollar tossing baseballs at plastic bottles to win a small jack knife.

I proudly brought my prize home and showed it to my father. He pointed out that I could get the knife at Kresge's for 25 cents.

Such are the lessons of life.


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