Bananas and bingo help to break the hold of the blues

Susan Manzke
Susan and Bob from autumn 2019.

December 1, 2021 would have been Bob's and my 48th wedding anniversary. Today, I’m sitting in Bob’s seat at our kitchen table remembering our days together.

Of course, as with everything, there were both good and bad days. Mostly I try not to dwell on the bad. There were many more good memories and I prefer thinking about them.

When we moved to Seymour, Wisconsin from Mokena, Illinois in 1978 we had two youngsters. Robby was almost three and Rebecca had just turned one.

I started writing years before. At the time of the move, my efforts were directed toward writing a romance novel. It never entered my mind to write a weekly column about our lives.

My column began with a short essay I wrote after taking Robby to church. That Sunday my little boy couldn’t sit still. He stood on the pews and then stretched out on the kneelers. From that position, he started matching the people above to their feet below. The only thing that brought him out of his investigation was when we shook hands as a sign of peace.

I felt sorry for the people around us. Robby’s actions had to be distracting. After mass, an old lady came up to me and congratulated me on my son’s good behavior. I guess his wiggling didn’t bother her. At least, Robby was quiet.

That church adventure became my first published essay. That little event was the start of many more essays about my family.

Bob was always supportive of my projects. Not many people would have let me write about their misadventures on the farm. My husband got a kick out of it.  

Like the time 5-year-old Robby came into the house one January evening telling us something was coming out of the chimney. It took us a couple of minutes before we went outside to investigate and found we had a chimney fire!

I wanted to call the fire department but Bob said not to, that he would take care of it.

As he calmly took a fire extinguisher outside, climbed up on his truck to get to the garage roof, and then up to the chimney, I was panicked. Of course, Bob had the blaze out in minutes. It wasn’t until I got before my typewriter and wrote about the fire that I finally saw the humor in it.

On this past December 1st, I was really missing Bob. Everything I did reminded me of him. I was exceptionally sad and making myself sadder. I had to do something to get myself out of my funk. That’s when I remembered that St. John the Baptist Church in Seymour was having a bingo event in the school gym that afternoon.

Two cards per person played at BINGO.

For the first time I decided to join the bingo players. At least, that way I’d get out of the house and stop dwelling on missing Bob.

The decision to go to bingo was great medicine for me. I met up with old friends and laughed.

About 15 people sat at tables. No fee was charged to play, but as in most church functions, a free-will offering was asked of players.

Prizes were an odd assortment from knickknacks, ornaments and scarfs to cookies and bananas.

The first time I won a game I chose a prize of two bananas, as I did when I won a second game. My final winning was a little snowman—all the bananas were gone.

Susan’s bunch of BINGO winnings.

The bingo event takes place on the first and third Wednesday of the month. I plan on going on December 15 (weather permitting). That day I will join the community not because I miss Bob but because I need friends.

By the way, anyone can join the group and play bingo. You don’t have to be a member of the church. It may be the perfect thing to help break out of your winter blues.

Now, it’s time for me to start sending my Christmas photo greetings. If you’d like one from me, send a card with a loose stamp inside to help defray the cost of my postage. I sure would appreciate it.        

Susan Manzke, Sunnybook Farm, N8646 Miller Rd, Seymour, WI 54165;;