The winner, and still champion …
Famous dates in history: 205 to 187 B.C.- The world discovers the lottery, thanks to the Chinese Han Dynasty. Proceeds are said to have helped build the Great Wall of China.
Jan. 11, 1569 - The first lottery ticket goes on sale in England. It’s performed nonstop through May 6 at St. Paul’s Cathedral in London.
Proceeds were meant to boost Britain’s shipping industry, among other things.
“The public went wild for it,” according to thetudorials.com. “The lottery was so successful that subsequent lotteries were held. However, they soon fizzled away as people decided to keep their cash.”
1638 – The world’s first well-known casino, the Casino di Venezia, opens in Venice, of course.
Proceeds continue to benefit the casino, all these years later.
1923-2013 – My mom plays the lottery and visits casinos and wins virtually every time.
Proceeds from my pocket benefit various lotteries and casinos - where I sit frowning deeply as bells ding and lights flash and people gather to watch as Mom wins again and again.
She was in her late 80s, a spunky little lady who liked things the way she liked them.
I tried to get her to use the one-armed bandit at her favorite casino, down in Iowa. She used it once or twice and went back to pushing the Replay button on her favorite penny machine, and winning some more.
I wondered if I could still get rich with the $1.05 I had left, after starting just minutes ago with a crisp (aren’t they all?) $20 bill.
I’ll try this cool-looking machine, designed with a roguish, shampooed, lightly-bearded Renaissance Lord hunk and his ultra-confident, shampooed, makeup-enhanced Renaissance Maiden hottie in mind.
I pull on the one-armed bandit. The screen rolls up and up and finally gives me a Lord, an icky Knave, and a Castle. I think you must need three of one thing to win, so this is no good. But I try again. ‘Cause that’s what gamblers do.
My available balance is quickly reduced to $.05. I despair, and head back to watch Mom win. The bells are dinging, the lights are flashing, several people are waiting to jump on that hot machine the second she leaves, and she is beaming.
“Look! I’m up to $200!”
How does she do this?
Probably because she’s just happy and carefree – glad to be out and about on another adventure away from her little apartment in the Independent Living place. Where she won at Bingo about every Sunday night.
We bought Mom a big bouquet of scratch-off tickets for her birthday, not long before she had a stroke and started the downhill slide, and she beamed that big sunbeam smile.
We all knew the tickets were just frosting. Being with her family was more than enough.
Within a year or two she was wheelchair-bound and distinctly unhappy in the nursing home. She stared out her window, perhaps wondering what was coming next.
Somewhere there’s a video of Mom playing her favorite old German dance tune – maybe a Schottische – in her last days. Ninety years old and those fingers were still nimble and sure.
It’s the most beautiful music of all.
I returned to the casino a couple of weeks ago. The live music was good, but I lost another $20 and missed my old gambling buddy, who doubled as my traveling buddy and tripled as my best buddy of all.
No doubt the lights are flashing and the bells are ringing at some heavenly casino. Mom is winning on her favorite penny slot machine as God shakes his head and smiles. He probably doesn’t even win like she does.
Go get ‘em, Mom. I sure hope to join you again. I’ll win, as always, just by sitting next to you.
What a great day that will be.