Fall is finally here and Halloween just a few weeks away. It's supposed to be down in the 40's by the weekend and the leaves are starting to turn colors. All this does is remind me of Fall back in Gueydan when I was growing up.
I was raised in the Methodist church...not so much because my mother was a devout Christian or anything like that. More I think because my father was Catholic and she definitely was not going to send her children in that direction. But there was one occasion every Fall when mother would send us off to the local Catholic church with a smile.
I really didn't know what went on behind those stone walls during the rest of the year and even looked at the kids who went to the Catholic school like someone visiting from another planet. But when October rolled around I was giddy with excitement because every year the Catholic church put on the largest church festival I'd ever seen.
It was also one of the few times Mother had a bit of extra money saved up. She would give each of us a few dollars and we could spend it however we liked. I would make a beeline to the cotton candy machine and wait anxiously in line. Would they run out of that sugary sweetness before I could get one?
Clutching my purchase, I would then wander through the different food stalls, drinking in all the wonderful festival smells, until my fingers were sticky from the melted sugar and my tongue changed colors. So much to see, so much to do, and just a few coins left in my pocket. I knew where I wanted to spend it.
Even at a young age I thought it strange to see what I considered gambling to happen at CHURCH but who was I to argue with them? Every year I would walk into the dining hall of the church and sit down to row after row of people playing bingo. Some, like myself, with one lone card while others gazed at stacks of lucky cards in front of them. Everyone hoping for a chance at the cash prizes but I would have been happy to go home with anything.
And I was.
All those years, all those bingo games and only once do I remember winning anything. Boy, was I thrilled when I got the chance to yell BINGO and run up to the front of the church to claim my prize. It was a robin egg blue, ceramic boot shaped bottle of perfume with for some strange reason, a rounded red velvet cushioned top like you used to see on fancy pin cushions.
I didn't care what it looked like. It could have been the leg lamp from The Christmas Story and I couldn't have been more thrilled because I HAD WON A PRIZE!! I saved that bottle long after the perfume was gone and returned to play many a bingo game over the years with the eternal hope of repeating my good fortune.
Now, when the leaves start to paint the ground and the hint of winter floats in on the morning breeze, I dream of those fall festivals of my youth and wonder if hidden somewhere in these hills I now call home there isn't a bingo game still calling my name...